Award-Winning Taiwanese Designer Yen Po-Chun On Finding His Own Path And Seeing The Value Of Setbacks

By Zoe Hsu

The creative director of Yen Design describes what goes into creating a well-crafted product, his sources of inspiration and his favourite piece of art

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Cover  Yen Po-Chun

I am Generation T is a series of quick-fire Q&As with some of the extraordinary individuals on the Gen.T List

Yen Po-Chun’s love for music and design comes together in his work, which focuses on creating album art and packaging for some of the region’s best-loved acts. The Taiwanese creative runs his own visual design firm Yen Design, which has worked with companies and governmental organisations on projects, some of which have won awards such as the Golden Melody Award and Red Dot Design Award. On the side, he also hosts a podcast called Before Midnight, which has seen guests such as actor and singer Aaron Yan.

Yen shares more about what makes good design, his sources of inspiration and his favourite art piece here.

How do you define "good design"?
Design is a form of expression and good design is being able to express it well. Only by having clear ideas and values, and expressing them with context and logic, can we create work that resonates with people.

How has the pandemic impacted the art and design world?
The pandemic has changed the world, we can never go back to how things were. The current situation is like a big social experiment and everyone is experiencing a collective memory.

In terms of art and design, when we convert physical exhibitions into virtual ones, the question is how can we recreate experiences through virtual means? Taking everything physical into the digital world is not an alternative solution, as you have to consider people's expectations and needs. When we are on social media, for instance, we aren't experiencing a real connection.

[Physical] exhibitions are difficult to replace. For example, when we visit the art museum to see an exhibit, the moment you enter the space, you have started an interactive experience, talking to people you meet there and taking in the atmosphere of the scene—all of this can't be easily replicated virtually. There are no clear answers to how we can best execute exhibitions and showcase art now, but many people are seeking the answer.

See also: Artist Isabel Santos On The Importance of Introspection

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Above  Yen Po-Chun

What keeps you doing what you do?
Working is like having fun for me. Being able to work with talented creators from different fields to produce interesting work also keeps me going.

What is your favourite piece of art?
Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. It showed me that art is not just about superficial beauty, but also about the philosophies and concepts that it brings to one's mind.

What inspires you the most?
Culture. I grew up in a conservative era and had to learn to think outside the box to change my way of thinking. Western pop culture not only inspired me but shook my world. In the past, a single authoritative media would influence your way of life and tell you what are the mainstream values of society. Today, there's so much information we can get instantly, whether true or false. Establishing your own life ritual has become somewhat of a science; you must explain your thinking to everyone, how and why you made certain choices in order to form a connection and convince them to share the same values as you.

Is there a quote you live by?
“Your current situation is a result of your past.” Your past experiences will guide you to the future, no matter how good or bad they were. No moment in life is a waste, every step you take is valuable.

When I first started my career in design, my family opposed it and I experienced many struggles, including doubting myself. But these experiences have become an important nutrient of my life now. Whenever I look back, I see all the good and bad experiences as pieces of a puzzle that complete my life. When I experience setbacks, I simply consider them as an emotional process.

I want to share these truths with the younger generation so that they are not afraid to make the wrong choice. It is better to understand the current situation, cherish every moment and every choice, and forge your own path. Everyone has their own course in life that cannot be copied. No one should help you make your choices and there is absolutely no way any of your choices will be done in vain.

See other honourees from the Architecture & Design category of the Gen.T List.

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