gooood team interviews creative individuals under 35 years old from all over the world, some are pioneering founders, 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.14 introduces Xiong Xing, founder of Xing Design
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gooood x Xiong Xing 熊星
A Fresh Start
“I want to closely participate in shaping the world I belong to.”
I am the only child in my family, as most of my generation. I had to entertain myself after school, and imagination would bring more fun. I knew little about architecture when I was in high school, but that time the architecture school requested the highest entry score in Tsinghua University, which impelled me to make the choice “in priority”. Also it meets my interest to materialize something from my imagination. In highly specialized industries, lots of people couldn’t see their roles in a larger scope. Architecture is better, it inspires everyday life in the physical world.
Working and studying were just small aspects of my life abroad. and it makes you realize the limitation of your way of thinking. Although there are 56 ethnic groups in China, people share the same ideology and values. Being abroad provides new references.
It is a comprehensive decision. Things now happening in China inspire me more. I enrolled in March2 program in Harvard GSD and worked for two European offices during my gap year, one in Copenhagen and the other in Amsterdam. I moved to New York after graduation from Harvard. I came across various things when I was abroad, all these references and experience helped to build the capacity to think independently. Since architectural design is to shape the tree-dimensional physical world. I want to closely participate in shaping the world I belong to.
▼清华到GSD的学院时期，academy works in Tsinghua and GSD
The biggest challenge is to fit in. Numerous changes have taken place during my absence. Another challenge is to build a team. In U.S., people are seemingly driven by their enthusiasm, and work with professional standards. In China, people have many concerns of other aspects, and are most likely harder to communicate. But I’m sure that I will find people loves design to join our team. Moreover, I found that there are still a large number of designers who only use SketchUp, which will take us extra time to train the software.
Experience before XING: URBANUS, BIG, UNStudio, KPF
“The experience in the three offices has benefited me a lot. I’m now capable of developing interesting aspects in design.”
Mr. WANG Hui, one of the founders of URBANUS, is my mentor who brought me into the real architecture world. I started to rethink the all my previous school experience — more like false statement only requires to be justified itself. However the real world is always filled with challenges and difficulties.
BIG was not as supreme as today yet at that time. There were about 50 people in their Copenhagen office and opening up a new office in New York. BIG apply ideas in a pretty straightforward way. It may due to the high level of industrialization in Northern Europe, which helps to accomplish the projects precisely anyway. The high level of welfare may also help to filter redundant concerns, so that they can focus on simply creating interesting stuff. It was getting dark around 3 pm in winter then everyone started to drink. We often had a bustling overtime, lots of fun.
▼在BIG给同事做图形处理讲座，lecture of graphic processing in BIG
▼纽约工作日常（左）/ 曼哈顿悬日（右），work scene in New York (left) / Manhattan henge (right)
▼翘起的方块 – 芬兰古根海姆美术馆竞赛项目，Upward Square – Prying Helsinki, competition project
Woking in UNStudio in Amsterdam, I was impressed by their high standard of geometry control. The forms are out of control in lots of design firms, because it seems easy to play with 3D softwares. While UNStudio still keeps the form rational. They regulate Nurbs curves and surfaces by, which is different from Maya dealing with polygon sculptures. To control a form means to understand the geometry. A column can be read as an elongated hexahedron, while a surface should be defined by accurate geometric constraints.
▼停车塔，竞赛银奖，曲线控制，Parking Tower, silver award, curve control
KPF New York dedicates in scale projects, especially super-talls. These long-term projects, such as PingAn Finance Centre and Shanghai World Financial Center, require a long-period-dedication of professionals from multi disciplines. I was in charge of the architectural design aspects of the OCT tower in Shenzhen. It ran through my life in New York over four years. KPF team is very professional and responsible, including the way we had meetings and kept track records. A large-scale building is a complex system which involves various groups. Therefore, architects must handle the correlations among geometric form, structure, vertical circulation, industry division and manufacture, etc. I was very lucky to work with such fantastic team and bosses, from whom I learnt a lot. They supported my ideas and help to realize them. I had a great time in New York.
▼在KPF参与设计的华侨城大厦项目，OCT Tower designed in KPF
参数嵌套系统模型，model of nested parameter system
The experience in the three offices has benefited me a lot. I’m now capable of developing interesting aspects in design. Design stems from sensibility, but not all of it. Sensibility works in the beginning, and then it’s more about controlling. Furthermore, collaboration with professionals is significantly important. This kind of work usually is more about management and caution. It is essential for the realization of a design, despite it has exceed the scope of design itself. Keep talking is always easy, but an accomplished project won’t be done without professional collaboration and hard working. In general, my employee life was a process of from simplicity to complexity, from a tentative joyfulness to the rational preciseness.
▼华侨城大厦项目，从设计到施工的严谨过程，OCT Tower, the precise process from design to constructuion
“I hope my studio could open to various types of techniques and concepts.”
I started independent practices last year. To establish a studio is not like a sudden event or declaration, but a course that is constantly driven by subtle things. First of all, the original intention is to make something interesting and worth being created – otherwise why bother? While interesting works does not mean working progress is always interesting, but at least it is interesting enough to help you to get through those tedious parts.
Second, I have been thinking about my positioning and present situation of architecture, trying to apply it into my practice. Many people said that architecture was being impacted. It is quite normal in my opinion. In fact the boundaries of disciplines are inevitably getting blurred and overlapped during the development of technology. Architecture is an applied discipline that never stops moving forward. From ancient Greek period to present, Architecture is actually a platform driven by demands and techs, hosting progress and products from all other disciplines. The reason why people feel impact today may be the boom in science and technology has be applied in our everyday life scenes. This is actually what architects should be excited about.
▼Xing Design工作室，office of Xing Design
It’s far from enough to have a space or material fetish (which is very important though) without being open. The current architectural common sense is actually based on the science development through last three hundred years，it is quite old. Architecture is about the space within a dimension of 10º meters to 10m³ meters, which can be intuitively perceived by human beings. That means what is happening in this physical space can all be categorized as architectural. I hope my studio could open to various types of techniques and concepts.
▼Xing Design部分作品一览，part of the projects of Xing Design
I have engaged with various projects, from installations, schools, hotels, theatres and renovation of industrial buildings, etc. And we will surely encounter more types of work in the future. What is important is to make it interesting. In fact, , except for some extreme cases，most of the projects can be found an interesting aspects. For example, There was a hotel project we just done, the core strategy was to provide best views for every single room by introducing a one-sided corridor, which resulted in an overlong circulation space. To deal with the problem, we used a curved form to bend the massing into the site, and then taking the advantage of the bending shape to create a series of terraced public spaces.
▼波浪酒店，通过设计实现景色最优化，Wave Hotel, introducing the best views by design
在项目设计过程中，我想保持一种开放的多样性的状态。虽然我越来越关注落地性，但理想情况下我们还是希望有其他视角和学科的介入。这就要说到把工作室叫“行之/Xing Design” 不光是因为我的名字。在美国开车的时候经常看到路上写着“XING”是Crossing – 交叉，出没的意思：有鹿crossing，熊crossing，熊孩子crossing。在我们的实践之路上要交叉不同学科不同视角，crossing fields才会是一个丰富有趣的Road trip。
I expect to keep open and diverse in design. Although I’m increasingly focusing on the feasibility, ideally I still want new perspectives and disciplines being involved. What should be mentioned here is that I named my studio as “XING DESIGN”. It is not only because of my name, but relates to a US road sign reads “XING”. It notices you that there are deer crossing, bear crossing, or kids crossing. This is like we keep moving, encounter the crossing subjects. It will be a fun road trip for design.
▼XING道路标志，XING sign on the road
Perhaps there are two kinds of excitements. One is consumption-oriented, that is pretty straightforward, and the other is creativity-oriented, brainy and takes much bigger efforts. Architecture is not either about transient events, or two-dimensional graphics on cellphone screens, or virtual business. Architectural design is a down-to-earth process of creating our “daily lives” in three-dimensional space. Isn’t it exciting enough?
Design process begins with a “crazy idea”, and ends with filling it up. A good design needs intuition and rationality. To make the “crazy idea” come true, one need to work hard. But once you overcome bunches of difficulties — from technique issues to business concerns — to make it real, it will be fulfilled with accomplishment like game clearance.
▼Look at Pixels项目，创造独特的使用体验，Look at Pixels, creating unique experience for users
Styles can only be summarized, not created. You will certainly have your habit of doing things, maybe ten years later, or at any appropriate time. The more works you do, the more samples are collected. As the variance of these samples is getting smaller, your “style” is probably showed in the mean value.
▼通过不断实践形成自己的“风格”，find the mean value of “style” by constant working
“Design-wise, I’m fond of realizing irrational conceptions through rational approaches.”
Smoke Cage is a small installation I made in New York 6 years ago, not my major stream. It can be read as an icon of a transparent walk-in-house, could be solidified by colored smoke.
I’m not determined to make things concise. Of course, expression changes, but regardless the form, the logic behind is if it is worthy making, if so, how to achieve. I’m always following this thought in my practices – the mechanical concepts, the OCT Building project, as well as those later works.
▼摩天楼，建筑与机械结合，Ferris Tower, combination of architecture and machine
曾经有一段时间风靡做复杂的建筑。单纯形式上的复杂性只是一种风格，稍有不慎就显得很冗余。就好像人人都能用滤镜一样，技术进步使做复杂形体更容易，于是人们都能去做了，我也做过不少。当然，要把复杂型做好看非常需要功底，还只会做方盒子的时候光批判复杂形体，就有点像吃不到葡萄说葡萄酸。毕加索素描特别好，最后才能抽离出来。不管是主动还是被动，做复杂形都是一个很有价值的成长阶段。现在我更多地把力量用在刀刃上，希望能举重若轻，用最直接有效的方式把设计切入点呈现出来。不过我也不排斥复杂形体，只要觉得这是有必要，值得做的。设计最尴尬的就是费了那么老大劲，结果做出来一看：“ok, so what？”。
There was a time when complicated forms were extremely popular. The pure formal complexity is only a stylish expression, usually quite redundant. Just like everyone can easily apply filters to their shots, it is simply because the technology makes it easier to do so. I also did bunch of them so before. Actually to make good-looking complex forms really requires solid skills. Criticizing complex form when one can only deal with cube, it sounds like sour grapes. Picasso’s abstract masterpieces is based on solid sketching skills. It is an important and helpful phase to work with complex forms at certain stage of architect’s career, initiatively or forced. Now I prefer efficiency – to spend half of the time defining the goal, the rest half to achieve it in the most smart and interesting way. Nevertheless, I’m fine with the complicated forms, as long as it’s interesting and worth doing.
▼碉楼博物馆改造，华侨城光明社区竞赛第一名，Renovation of Watchtower museum, first prize in OCT Guangming design competition
Design-wise, I’m fond of realizing irrational conceptions through rational approaches. Is it so called “natural” to pretend a building a “flower” or a “mountain”？ Maybe. However, if we have to mention the concept of “nature”, in my opinion, mathematics is the most natural thing. Why does a seashell have a shape of the Golden Spiral？It’s because there is a law of the infinitely increase based on the natural logarithm. What determines the appearance of creatures? It’s the microscopic geometry defined by the way that carbon atoms bond with each other, since we are carbon-based life forms. Some people think that “boxes” are unnatural and too industrial, but I would say that it’s precisely industrial technology that helps to create those forms reflecting a pure mathematical concepts. Lines, quadrants, squares and geometric shapes are based on the fundamental law of the universe, which to me are all quite natural things.
For the “Herbal” exhibition, located in a high-dark-ceiling industrial plant, I introduced a light structure floating above the display area, to create contrast as well as unifying the theme. Due to the limited budget, we suspended the canvas above the space in the shape of catenaries, which provided an economical solution for a large-scale venue. Considering that the exhibition spaces and the objects might be replaced at the last minute, I created a “parametric algorithm” to ensure the flexibility in space arrangement, without changing the total length of the canvas. The design also allowed for a real-time data sheet to help control the construction.
▼杭州ADM设计展，悬垂的画布形成自由的展览空间，ADM exhibition in Hangzhou, suspended canvas created flexible exhibition spaces
▼使用参数化设计帮助控制施工，control the construction by creating a “parametric algorithm”
The light projected on the floor was also my design. It felt a little boring to just hang a canopy in the air, I want to apply another layer of design. The actual design was not on the hanging canvas, but on the floor, where presented a ripple-like pattern generated by the waggle of the canvas due to the movement of the visitors.
If there was anything in this project that relates to natural elements, it should be the “catenaries”, which can be expressed though differential equations. The equation allows precise control of the final effect, by providing the accurate length of the catenaries. The other “natural element” – the projection, which seemed intertwined, was actually a geometrical optics.
▼灯光透过画布在地面上形成光影的涟漪，ripple-like pattern generated by the light projected through waggling canvas
“It is important to focus on the trends of development, and keep expanding the territory of the architecture discipline and practices.”
Nowadays there are fewer scientists who win the Nobel Prize as an individual. Perhaps it is no longer the age of personal heroism. If a “master” is someone who establish a paradigm in certain field, today the master is more likely to be a team or group that works collaboratively. For instance, it is not only the giant architecture firms that defined the paradigm of contemporary super tall buildings, but also the rules and standards set by elevator manufacturers, etc. In the future, architecture may be re-defined by the elevators and escalators that can move in random directions, or the enterprises that relate to the capsule engineering in the space, which can never be achieved by just a single person or discipline.
I have been influenced by lots of people. In recent years, Steven Jobs had inspired me the most. Jobs was the one who led Apple to set a new paradigm that broke the routines. The birth of iphone under Jobs even overset our lifestyle. The other one is Elon Musk, he has a long-vision, forward-looking who never subject to the existing rules. Lastly, but most significantly, both of them have a wonderful team.
▼Xing Design，和团队一起前进，make progress with the team of Xing Design
I expect that everyone can think independently. If everyone tells you “what good should be like”, it must be an awful time. As for me, I hope that everyone can be more open-minded, and never be restricted by the traditional architecture disciplines. It is important to focus on the trends of development, and keep expanding the territory of the architecture discipline and practices.
As I have mentioned, architecture is an interface that integrates the achievements of various academic subjects. First of all, a logical and systematic way of thinking is critical. Secondly, a solid fundament of understanding geometry will make one better drive forms. Physical objects are projected in digital world through the abstraction and algorithm, so that it could be further optimized. Finally, “stay hungry, stay foolish”, life-time learning is to make your own better judgements, rather than to become a “so-called” expert. Architecture is getting closer and closer with all other fields like IT industry, machine manufacturers, automobile, and aerospace, the whole dynamic is pretty exciting.
▼工作中的熊星，Xiong Xing devoted in his work
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