Seize every fleeting inspiration:Designer Li, Hui Lun

Lamp designers are like poets who wander and seize every fleeting inspiration in daily life, transforming the ideas into sketches with the Midas touch, and refine to a sophisticated and timeless work to light up the darkness.

Li, Hui-Lun is a senior designer in Seed, all these years she has turned from a childlike perspective in early career toward social and environmental concerns. The keen observation has generated her designs in various styles and interpreted new light effects. Among her well received works OLO, LING, HOODIE, SIRCLE series and more, the OLO Φ table lamp has just been honored by the 2021 Red Dot award. 

On a chilly morning we were guided by White, to filter through the garden and the alleys she used to walk around, talking about her perspective on design and life.

“Lighting for me seems like some sort of companionship.”

What do you think “lamp” is to you?

Lighting for me seems like some sort of companionship.

Rather than design electronic devices which may become obsolete as the trend goes, eventually I devote myself in the lighting industry to develop and refine fixtures. I’m always delighted to see how people treasure their daily essentials, lighting is one of them that particularly tends to stay in each family and solidify the relationship between people. So I guess companionship is the core value I’d like to bring into my works.

What do you enjoy most about the designing process?

My favorite part is the final phase of the job, while simulating my work in various styles of interior to see the products in a different light. I’d know that’s it when it can fit in so many different scenarios and yet looks all good, then my intuition would tell me that things won’t go wrong. Because you can’t literally feel the luminance while 3D rendering, but when the work is put to virtual scenes, it comes so vivid with the light on! So in my proposal I can’t help providing so many scenarios more than requested while team sharing.

The biggest challenges during your career?

I was quite lost for some time in around the fifth year getting into the lighting industry. At the time, I was so focused on the “lamp” itself that felt strapped by other iconic designs that influenced me a lot. Then I learned to see the objects from a broader perspective, paying attention to the space and interaction with users. This change has calmed me down and led me to break through the stereotypes. Now when I see a design similar to mine, I’d be like “Oh, we are thinking of the same thing!”.

Is there any changing or evolving since your first lamp product made a debut?

At first, I would get stuck whenever my idea was shot down, but now I can live with it.

Being a designer I have to handle rejection on a daily basis, and as much as I can understand that it’s not the desired outcome being struggled that could negatively affect my performance. Sometimes I was in the grip of an obsession like “it has to be 5mm thick for perfection!”. It’s not easy but now I’ve learned to keep an open mind listening to the comments and trying to balance between insistence and compromise, taking into account both engineer and aesthetic considerations.

I’d like to say to the junior designers who have been depressed by allowing a rejection to knock confidence: “hey stop being upset, just move on, keep on drawing for the next successful proposal.”

What’s your favorite product among your works?

I think it would be LING as it is well received in the market. At one point I found it was specified by one of my favorite interior designers and that totally blew my mind like “OMG! Is this really my design?” I always see myself as an ordinary person who is luckily doing what I love, turning my ideas into drawings. I’m flattered and exhilarated to be recognized, not to mention by someone I admire. It must be one of my most surreal experiences.

Eagerly soak up something new.

How to stay inspired?

Eagerly soak up something new.

I spend a lot of time submerging myself in various design magazines and websites such as Pinterest and Instagram for creative ideas, taking different elements and sorting them correspondingly to the space they fit and the texture they contribute. I think it’s also important to really” experience life. In my spare time I like to filter through the city’s streets, or go for a staycation to spark new inspirations.

If you were going to design a lamp for your child, what would it be?

I created HOODIE based on the concept of my son and it just came in handy.

When I returned from my maternity leave, I was assigned to design a petite table lamp, then I thought “okay, that’s exactly what I need while accompanying my little boy!”, and here it is. Since the task is specified for nursing, I gave the lamp a hood to be able to change the light direction. I used to dim the light and turn it toward me for bedtime stories, afterwards I would be able to read or have a little MeTime without disturbing him while sleeping. I found it is also therapeutic when kids wake up in the middle of the night, a dim light would comfort them, make them feel secure.

Now my son is getting older and he loves doodling too. Sometimes he would even cheer me on the way to work: “Keep drawing mom, have a good day at work.”

Can you share with us one of your most cherished items?

I’ve got plenty, no way to share just one. 

Turns out I am a bit fetish. As long as I am emotionally attached to something, I can’t resist putting it in my pocket and taking it home ever since I was little. Things like candy wrappers from my crush, a fallen leaf collected by my son on our first trip to the park, pebbles from our family trip, even my little brother’s baby tooth. It’s the fond memory associated with these things that present the most value. Looking through them and walking down memory lane always gives me joy. The downside is that things pile up and I have to give them up at some point, reluctantly.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to take a walk in my spare time, and enjoy aromatherapy with my favorite scented candles. 

I like walking, making myself a hand brewed coffee everyday. Lately I’ve started to like baking, I’ve shared a lot of cookies and cake to my family and friends. My favorite hobby is lighting scented candles. I love the moment of flash while it’s lit up, watching it slowly burn with it’s open flame and enjoy the aroma filling the room to comfort and refresh my mind.

What would you become, If you weren’t a designer?

I think I will be a baker or a teacher. 

Since I’m always interested in baking. It should be my dream job after I retire. But recently I realized that baking is really exhausting, so I think It’s not suitable as a retirement career. I should do it right now while I’m still young. Or I can be a teacher. At some points, I had a chance to teach computer graphics in elementary school. It was fun and meaningful to help kids. But I was not professional enough to take care of my throat. After finishing the all-day classes, I found myself with a sore throat. So I think each job has its challenges.

What would you do if the world ends tomorrow?

I think I would live like usual.

Stay at home with my family, watching TV, eating and going to bed. 

Even if the end will never come, there are still so many accidents that happen throughout the world every day. I think the most important thing is to cherish your loved ones, seize the moment and don’t leave your life in regret. I used to be kind of shy, but now I feel it’s necessary to express the positive emotion to the ones we care about. As much as I often show my gratitude and compliment, I’m actually creating the cycle of goodness in return to myself.


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