Skip to content
design lab sheng-feng qin

Spotlight on Sheng-feng Qin: His take on Design from China to the UK and US

Spotlight on Sheng-feng Qin: His take on Design from China to the UK and US

Spotlight on Sheng-feng Qin: His take on Design from China to the UK and US

Sheng-feng Qin is a professor at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in the School of Design in Northeast England. His research spans everything from digital design with high-speed rail systems in China to crowdsourcing-based and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) tools in the United Kingdom. As a visiting faculty and researcher at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, Qin has been working to marry the principles of emotional design with the development of social platforms. Here’s our conversation with Dr. Qin.

How can we link more design solutions directly to people and business?

Qin: The process of product development involves idealization, prototyping and finding partners for manufacturing. When identifying platforms for product development, people often use a variety of different tools to bring their idea to fruition. Instead of creating one singularly-focused platform, we should create platforms that are adaptive to a wide range of needs. It’s this dynamic dialogue that drives the creation of better, more useful products. In manufacturing, there are networks of companies and universities that rally around ideation and production. Unfortunately, a lot of those ideas end up unused and forgotten. So, how can we link solutions more directly to the people who would find them useful?

When we first start looking at a problem, we are presented with constraints. The magic happens when we go beyond the problem and come up with an idea that cuts through expectations. For example, technology companies often believe that good business simply means acquiring more users. However, research tells us that an increase in users is often the result of a product’s ease of use, ability to engage people and create an emotional connection that inspires people to want to participate. So maybe instead of seeking to acquire users, we should set out to create tools that are easy to use, effectively engage people, and evoke an emotional connection.

Having worked in China, U.K., and the U.S., how is design viewed differently or similarly across the different countries?

Qin: China tends to focus more on the engineering aspect due to their rapid industrial development,” says Dr. Qin. “The U.K. favors graphics and animation associated with the arts and social sciences. Design in the U.S. looks to be more inclusive and interdisciplinary across research, engineering, social sciences, and the arts. In the U.S., I find there is a strong emphasis on public service, which appears to be the future of design thinking.

About Dr. Sheng-feng Qin:

Dr Sheng-feng Qin is Professor of Digital Design at Northumbria University with an extensive career in design academia. Prior to this post, he was a Reader in Product/Industrial Design at Northumbria University (January 2014-July 2015).

Before joining Northumbria School of Design in 2014, he worked in Department of Design at Brunel University as a Senior Lecturer in Product Design (September 2007- December 2013) and a Lecturer in Industrial Design (September 2001-August 2007). At Brunel University, he led the Computer Aided Design and Engineering research group between 2007 and 2013.  Dr Qin was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Loughborough’s Manufacturing System Integration Institute (MSI) between 2000 and 2001, and a Research Assistant in the School of Product Design at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Cardiff Metropolitan University now) between 1998 and 1999. Before his visit to the University of Birmingham between 1996 and 1997 as an Academic Visiting Scholar in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, he was an Associate Professor at East China Jiaotong University of China. He worked as a Design Engineer in HuaiBei Coal Mining Construction Company in China between 1983 and 1985.

Prof. Qin has published more than 150 papers in journals and conferences and 2 books.

Sheng-feng Qin is a professor at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in the School of Design in Northeast England. His research spans everything from digital design with high-speed rail systems in China to crowdsourcing-based and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) tools in the United Kingdom. As a visiting faculty and researcher at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, Qin has been working to marry the principles of emotional design with the development of social platforms. Here’s our conversation with Dr. Qin.

How can we link more design solutions directly to people and business?

Qin: The process of product development involves idealization, prototyping and finding partners for manufacturing. When identifying platforms for product development, people often use a variety of different tools to bring their idea to fruition. Instead of creating one singularly-focused platform, we should create platforms that are adaptive to a wide range of needs. It’s this dynamic dialogue that drives the creation of better, more useful products. In manufacturing, there are networks of companies and universities that rally around ideation and production. Unfortunately, a lot of those ideas end up unused and forgotten. So, how can we link solutions more directly to the people who would find them useful?

When we first start looking at a problem, we are presented with constraints. The magic happens when we go beyond the problem and come up with an idea that cuts through expectations. For example, technology companies often believe that good business simply means acquiring more users. However, research tells us that an increase in users is often the result of a product’s ease of use, ability to engage people and create an emotional connection that inspires people to want to participate. So maybe instead of seeking to acquire users, we should set out to create tools that are easy to use, effectively engage people, and evoke an emotional connection.

Having worked in China, U.K., and the U.S., how is design viewed differently or similarly across the different countries?

Qin: China tends to focus more on the engineering aspect due to their rapid industrial development,” says Dr. Qin. “The U.K. favors graphics and animation associated with the arts and social sciences. Design in the U.S. looks to be more inclusive and interdisciplinary across research, engineering, social sciences, and the arts. In the U.S., I find there is a strong emphasis on public service, which appears to be the future of design thinking.

About Dr. Sheng-feng Qin:

Dr Sheng-feng Qin is Professor of Digital Design at Northumbria University with an extensive career in design academia. Prior to this post, he was a Reader in Product/Industrial Design at Northumbria University (January 2014-July 2015).

Before joining Northumbria School of Design in 2014, he worked in Department of Design at Brunel University as a Senior Lecturer in Product Design (September 2007- December 2013) and a Lecturer in Industrial Design (September 2001-August 2007). At Brunel University, he led the Computer Aided Design and Engineering research group between 2007 and 2013.  Dr Qin was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Loughborough’s Manufacturing System Integration Institute (MSI) between 2000 and 2001, and a Research Assistant in the School of Product Design at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Cardiff Metropolitan University now) between 1998 and 1999. Before his visit to the University of Birmingham between 1996 and 1997 as an Academic Visiting Scholar in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, he was an Associate Professor at East China Jiaotong University of China. He worked as a Design Engineer in HuaiBei Coal Mining Construction Company in China between 1983 and 1985.

Prof. Qin has published more than 150 papers in journals and conferences and 2 books.

Sheng-feng Qin is a professor at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in the School of Design in Northeast England. His research spans everything from digital design with high-speed rail systems in China to crowdsourcing-based and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) tools in the United Kingdom. As a visiting faculty and researcher at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, Qin has been working to marry the principles of emotional design with the development of social platforms. Here’s our conversation with Dr. Qin.

How can we link more design solutions directly to people and business?

Qin: The process of product development involves idealization, prototyping and finding partners for manufacturing. When identifying platforms for product development, people often use a variety of different tools to bring their idea to fruition. Instead of creating one singularly-focused platform, we should create platforms that are adaptive to a wide range of needs. It’s this dynamic dialogue that drives the creation of better, more useful products. In manufacturing, there are networks of companies and universities that rally around ideation and production. Unfortunately, a lot of those ideas end up unused and forgotten. So, how can we link solutions more directly to the people who would find them useful?

When we first start looking at a problem, we are presented with constraints. The magic happens when we go beyond the problem and come up with an idea that cuts through expectations. For example, technology companies often believe that good business simply means acquiring more users. However, research tells us that an increase in users is often the result of a product’s ease of use, ability to engage people and create an emotional connection that inspires people to want to participate. So maybe instead of seeking to acquire users, we should set out to create tools that are easy to use, effectively engage people, and evoke an emotional connection.

Having worked in China, U.K., and the U.S., how is design viewed differently or similarly across the different countries?

Qin: China tends to focus more on the engineering aspect due to their rapid industrial development,” says Dr. Qin. “The U.K. favors graphics and animation associated with the arts and social sciences. Design in the U.S. looks to be more inclusive and interdisciplinary across research, engineering, social sciences, and the arts. In the U.S., I find there is a strong emphasis on public service, which appears to be the future of design thinking.

About Dr. Sheng-feng Qin:

Dr Sheng-feng Qin is Professor of Digital Design at Northumbria University with an extensive career in design academia. Prior to this post, he was a Reader in Product/Industrial Design at Northumbria University (January 2014-July 2015).

Before joining Northumbria School of Design in 2014, he worked in Department of Design at Brunel University as a Senior Lecturer in Product Design (September 2007- December 2013) and a Lecturer in Industrial Design (September 2001-August 2007). At Brunel University, he led the Computer Aided Design and Engineering research group between 2007 and 2013.  Dr Qin was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Loughborough’s Manufacturing System Integration Institute (MSI) between 2000 and 2001, and a Research Assistant in the School of Product Design at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Cardiff Metropolitan University now) between 1998 and 1999. Before his visit to the University of Birmingham between 1996 and 1997 as an Academic Visiting Scholar in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, he was an Associate Professor at East China Jiaotong University of China. He worked as a Design Engineer in HuaiBei Coal Mining Construction Company in China between 1983 and 1985.

Prof. Qin has published more than 150 papers in journals and conferences and 2 books.

Read Next

Design@Large UCSD Design Lab

Design@Large Spring 2022


For the first time in the nearly 10-year history of the Design@Large speaker series the UC San Diego Design Lab is partnering with California 100, an initiative focused on identifying and uplifting transformative ideas, people, and projects through research and engagement that accelerate progress towards a shared vision of California’s future over the next century.

**This will be a hybrid event (in-person and remote). Capacity is limited. Please register ahead of time.

TOPICS
- 4/13, Alternative Transportation Futures
- 4/20, Climate Risk Reduction and Technology
- 4/27, Housing Justice and Urban Design
- 5/11, Transborder Regions and Immigrant Integration
- 5/18, Future Prospects in Health Equity and Tech Innovation
- 5/25, The Future of Work and Higher Education

There will be no Design@Large classes on 04/06, 05/04 or 06/01.
There are no speakers on 03/30, but class will still take place for students.

Design and Innovation Building Grand Opening: UCSD’s front door to community collaborations

In November of 2021, the UC San Diego Design Lab unveiled their long-awaited new home in the recently constructed Design and Innovation Building, or as it is affectionately referred to, the DIB. The DIB will serve as a hub for academia, industry and community innovators to participate in design events, lectures, and other working partnerships within the design community that aim to create human-centered solutions to the complex problems facing our region and beyond. The grand opening of the DIB showcased the potential for such gatherings, boasting the presence of organizations like the UCSD Design Co., Girls Who Code, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, to name a few. Such groups showcased current and past projects to the students, professors, and industry leaders in attendance. 

The opening of the DIB marks a momentous occasion in the history of the Design Lab, as the building itself, which is a multi-use environment bringing together multiple disciplines under one roof, represents the journey and philosophy at the heart of the Design Lab’s mission–making UC San Diego a world center for design research and education that fosters a new way of thinking, which addresses the core issues with a systems point of view, and emphasizing the role of people in the complex systems of the modern world.
Design Lab Ibm

IBM Design Thinking Workshop at The Design Lab

IBM believes in design thinking. And design doing. So much so that throughout the company,…

Philip Guo

Philip Guo on Storytelling in Design | Design Chats

Philip Guo, Design Lab member and Associate Professor in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego, speaks on the importance of capturing stories during the design process.

Design Chats is a video series where we sit down with design practitioners to answer questions about how they utilize human-centered design.

View our Design Chats playlist on the Design Lab YouTube Channel
Design & Innovation Building (DIB) Grand Opening

Design & Innovation Building (DIB) Grand Opening

In commemoration of the Grand Opening of the new Design & Innovation Building, The Design Lab hosted a showcase of projects and activities on Thursday, November 18. UC San Diego faculty, staff, and students were invited to attend, along with special invitees from the San Diego community such as design practitioners, as well as industry and government partners. The Design & Innovation Building will allow The Design Lab to serve an interdisciplinary group of faculty, students, staff, and community partners that are working to solve the most complex societal problems with design.
Don-Norman

What is the Future of Design in 50 Seconds?

From Jnd.org & Don Norman: I'm developing a new talk: "21st Century Design: Addressing Major Societal…

Back To Top