gooood team interviews creative individuals under 35 years old from all over the world, some are pioneering founders, some are clients, some are ordinary practitioners. gooood is trying to record the authentic living and working states of this era. Your recommendations and suggestions are appreciated!
gooood Under 35 NO.31 introduces Jeremie Lichtfus, founder of MAKADAM. More: MAKADAM on gooood
出品人：向玲 / Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队：武晨曦，陈诺嘉，刘丹阳，李诗蓉，韦紫昭，历剑 / Editor: Wu Chenxi, Chen Nuojia, Liu Danyang, Li Shirong, Wei Zizhao, Li Jian
“Do not follow the money and rather keep on working on my creative side.”
As a kid growing up, I remember spending lots of time outside. In Belgium, where I am from, our villages are safe and every house has very big garden, so I had so much opportunities to explore and create things. Then, when computers and video games became popular, I spend some times playing games that involved city building and city managing. In fact, my favourite game was an architecture software that allowed me to build 3D architecture model (I just didn’t know it was a design tool at that time).
When I had to choose which university I would go, I was actually thinking on doing economics at first cause I was sure I could get a well paid job, but my best friend told me to not follow the money and rather keep on working on my creative side, so I went to architecture school and I enjoyed it on the first day.
Later on, my vision of becoming an architect strengthen and I became obsessed with spaces, volumes and how architecture affects ourselves and the environment.
▼Jeremie成长的区域，每家都有很大的花园，the district where Jeremie grew up, each house has a big garden
From Europe to China
“I always look at a project like a new beginning and thrive of delivering unique solution.”
Althought it is changing very fast in China, I believe as being an architect from the Western Europe, I have been trained to challenge my ideas, seek for innovation and always remember that I am unique. Europe it is also a giant architecture library. Living in Belgium (being at the center of Europe) I had a chance to enlarge my architecture knowledges by traveling and studying abroad. You don’t study architecture in books, you study it by exploring. So, I guess my strengths are the ability to always look at a project like a new beginning and thrive of delivering unique solution thanks to the influences I received from the western and now eastern world.
“Young Chinese architects needs to test, explore and fail as much as possible.”
Architectural practices in Europe is significantly different compare to Chinese practices. Especially for fresh graduates and young architects. For instance, young architects in Belgium will quickly learn all tasks and responsibilities that architects needs to undertake. After two years, many architects would be able to manage a project from conception to completion. However, the strict regulations and rules can sometimes be a limitation to their creativity.
In China, young architects benefit from other advantages. Living in a country with such growth, opportunities and land spaces, young Chinese architects can enjoy from a vast design playfield. Here, every designer can choose from a wide range of firms and therefore explore many differents ways and scales of design. However I still think young Chinese architects working in large firm are not given the chance to grow much in the first few years of their career. Here, young designers are often hired for small little tasks rather than giving them the chance to learn new skills, manage a construction site, hold a client meeting. An architect is not only a designer but also a coordinator between all participants in the project. Young Chinese architects needs to test, explore and fail as much as possible.
“A successful design project is the one you can’t remove anything and not the one you can’t add anything.”
As a foreigner working in China, you face a lot of difficulties. In my opinion there are two majors difficulties that I am still struggling with to this day. The first is the fact that some clients are afraid of innovation, which is paradoxical when you look at Chinese technological development. Some clients believe in things they see and don’t necessary want to take too much risk. The second is the mindset. In Chinese cutlure, the more sophisicated you are the better. For most of our projects there is this constant argumentation between over-designing and designing just what is necessary. Being a “less is more” scholars make me believe in architecture and interior that express simplicity. A successful design project is the one you can’t remove anything and not the one you can’t add anything.
“We operate very much like a design studio class. Every design ideas, critics, discussions are welcomed.”
▼MAKADAM办公室，office of MAKADAM
As an architecture student, I had the chance to do an international exchange program at the University of Sciences and Technology in Wuhan. That’s where my interest for Chinese culture and architecture grew. After being graduated from the University of KULeuven with an International Master Degree in Architecture and Sustainability, I worked in Paris and then head to Shenzhen to work in bigger firms. Unfortunately, no many firms suited my interests as an architecture and so I founded MAKADAM at the end of 2015 with my Chinese partner.
Currently, our office consists of 6 people, all members are from top university all around the world. We believe in small team with talented designers to sort of re-create the design studio atmosphere we had at school. In my opinion, it is the best to keep the creativity high and deliver tailored made solutions for our clients.
As I said previously, we operate very much like a design studio class. Every design ideas, critics, discussions are welcomed. Our work is greatly inspired by the context we are in. Our vision and the practicality of our work is coming from a deep understanding of where the project sits. Each of our project are made with innovation, devotion of uniqueness and aspiration for quality and details. Our philosophy is to remain a very humble design firm with the interest to learn from each our team members and clients. We view the design process as a dialogue with them.
▼Jeremie在进行设计工作，Jeremie doing design work
“The social, cultural and sustainable challenges of these projects make the entire design game much more fun.”
Most of our clients are from the private sector. We have a wide range of projects from retail, to residential, hospitality and cultural. We mainly work on interior design, architecture renovation and small to medium scale architecture projects. Our preference is to tackled renovation and architecture projects such as guesthouses, boutique hotels, schools located in the Chinese countryside. These projects are big enough for our team to handle it first. Second, the social, cultural and sustainable challenges of these projects make the entire design game much more fun.
▼MAKADAM部分设计项目拼图，selected projects by MAKADAM
▼东莞民宿项目，Dongguan guesthouse project
New rural architecture and especially renovation design of old houses or buildings in China is at the center of our interest. We are seeing for few years already an interesting shift in Chinese people mindset and their carefulness of their village and environment. Most big cities and villages often opt for the “tabula rasa” approach. However, China has the longest history in the world. It is necessary to prevent the destruction of the past and rather transform these architectures with a delicate approach into comfortable places fitting our current lifestyle.
With MAKADAM Design Studio , we transformed an old traditional house into a guesthouse with common space for the villagers near the city of Dongguan. We kept the entire old structure of the house and re-design the interior spaces to fit the current needs. We also offer interior spaces for eldery people to use as entertaining space, organize gathering and other collective activities they usually do in the village.
We also transformed a villa in Shenzhen into a guesthouse. This villa looked less traditional but the challenge remain the same. The importance is too keep the soul of these buildings by respecting what is already there and slighty adapting the design to our current way of living.
▼深圳民宿项目，Shenzhen guesthouse project
When we were commissioned to design the new flagship education center of Dami & Xiaomi in Beijing, we first dived deep on researching about the behavioral and social issues of these children. Their mobility, their sensitive emotions to certain color or images and their difficulties of focusing on their tasks attracted our attention. We had to find design strategies such as rounded corner for safety reason, creating a Centrale wooden area to facilitate orientation and gather all circulations as well as neutral color interior to avoid any distraction.
▼空间中心的木质结构，wooden volume in the center of the space
Other design projects
▼韶关康养度假村项目草图，sketches of Shaoguan wellness resort
Our latest ongoing project is the urban and architecture development of a wellness resort near Shaoguan city, in the north of Guangdong province. The land sits between small hills and includes a river along which farmland and rice fields. Currently, we are operating on multiple aspects. On one part, we are discussing with villagers and government officials to learn from the culture and resources. We are also developing a first draft of our urban concept idea combining new architecture buildings and renovation of some existing ones. The idea is to develop a wellness resort with all facilities (spa, restaurants, tea center, hotels, eldery center) and strongly connect the project to the surrounding nature. Finally, we are also discussing with biological engineers and environmental protectionists to offer a sustainable design solution with lower footprints yet high-end quality results.
▼MAKADAM其他项目 – BOJU酒店
Other projects by MAKADAM – BOJU Hotel
As a coordinator of the University of KULeuven, I am responsible of developing a hub between Belgium and China to foster relationships and academical researches. I am the bridge between the two faculties. Recently, I have orgnanized a workshop in Shenzhen around the topic of the regeneration of urban villages. We will continue pushing these researches much further to encourage debates. Also, in the near future, we would like to create strong collaboration between the two univeristies and allow students to enroll for valuable exchange programs on both side of the world.
▼深圳调研，research in Shenzhen
So far, MAKADAM have done relatively small and medium size projects. We want to keep doing such projects and continue working with private client or group of client. We hope to create more and more interesting design projects. Currently, we are also having more projects in Brussels (Belgium). In the near future, we wish to develop a cross-border design studio that could benefit from both side of the world. Learning from the West for the East and learning from the East for the West.