EightSix is excited to present the work of designer Mengya Hao, from Taiyuan in China. She studied at Jiangnan University, before heading to London and the UAL. We spoke with her recently about design, China and the future.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Taiyuan, Shanxi. After finishing school, I went to the School of Design at Jiangnan University, where I completed my bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication Design. I have recently come back from London where I was studying at UAL.

Where are you currently working?

I’m a freelance designer right now, but I don’t think I will be freelancing for very long. I’ve been doing some research, and I am hoping to be able to work for a design studio soon.


Where did you study at University – a lot of Chinese designers often go overseas to learn design. What do you think about this?

I graduated from University of the Arts London, and it is true that many young Chinese designers prefer to go overseas to learn design. If there is the possibility of going to another country, a new cultural environment, I think it is an efficient way to improve design ability.

As for me, I completed my MA at UAL, and it means a lot to me. Going to a new environment helped me to refresh my way of thinking. Despite the initial cultural shock, the educational structure in the UK is quite different from that in China. MA courses in China are normally three years while in the UK it is one to two years. So studying overseas saved me time but meant I was under a lot more pressure. Most importantly though I learn new ways of thinking, and new ways of thinking about design.

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People typically say that Chinese education from a young age does not allow you to be creative – is this true? How are you creative?

It’s sad because it’s partially true. The education system in China is still exam-orientated, many people say that the younger generation cannot do what they are really interested in, and cannot be creative. The key point is, we can be creative, but from primary school to college the majority of us have gradually lost the ability of thinking and questioning things. It took me few months to realise this was a problem. Working hard to get a good marks, to then get admitted to a better college, results in us not questioning deeper reasons why we are doing this.

I always see the work of young Chinese designers which are creative and dynamic. Creativity varies from person to person and being a designer is certainly a efficient way to activate this.

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Who inspires you – any Chinese designers or international designers?

There are a lot of designers that inspire me, such as Lv Jingren – one of the most famous and important Chinese designers who makes a significant contribution to Chinese graphic design and is also a very nice person. I’m keen on font design, and I learnt a lot from some Japanese designers, like Shintaro Ajioka, Katsumi Asaba etc.

Being a female designer is not easy, so there is one designer I must say who is inspiring – my tutor Eugenie Dodd. She is a typographic designer based in London, a very smart and beautiful woman, and she has shown me a new way of thinking.

The Chinese design industry is getting better and better and there are more chances for ambitious young designers.


Where do you hope to be in 10 years time?

I think I will stay in China, but hopefully I can gather more knowledge and experience to work with both local and international clients. If I have the opportunity, I’d like to stay in Japan for a period of time, either to study or work.

mengya haoThis interview is part of an exclusive Cross Post Series and collaboration between Design China and EightSix. Please do not use any of the materials shown, whether in part or in whole, without prior permission from the editors. All images are copyright their respective owners. 

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