Consumerism in the Wild, Wild East: What to Know About Designing for China

by New Idiom

This was a blog article I wrote for my company (Artefact), primarily to show that we’ve done some serious research and thinking around what it takes to design products (we tend to do consumer electronics, like mobile phones, media devices, home entertainment, etc.) for China.

The lessons/insights/points are more general than specific, but our hope was to start an ongoing dialogue with our clients, other designers, researchers, and people in the community in trying to understand such a dynamic and complex part of the world, full of dynamic and complex and diverse people!

I did NOT go to China to do any research (no budget!).  It is not a user-research piece, at least not based on personal experience.  It was the result of a tremendous amount of reading (books, articles, blogs, reports, etc.), and numerous phone interviews or emailing/Facebooking (some in November last year and the rest this January) with professionals in design and market research, business, product design, UI/UX, and some students.  The calls were to discuss some of these claims I was making and whether or not they were true, and if they had any anecdotes to share related to the claims.

In terms of acknowledging the ID students (former and current) I spoke with, they include:  Lin Lin, Nanqian Xu, Ash Bhoopathy, Pinxia Ye, Fei Qi, and probably a couple others I’m forgetting.

I also briefly spoke with Anjali Kelkar, a former professor at IIT Institute of Design, about doing field work in China.

Hopefully, some of you will have some of your own knowledge, perspective, and insights to share by contributing to the ongoing dialogue on our blog, commenting, re-tweeting, or writing your own thoughts on your own blog in response.


Gabriel Biller (MDes, Design Planning, 2008)