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Jiang Hua

Design China’s Lynn Zhang was lucky enough to talk to graphic designer and CAFA lecturer, Jiang Hua, during the break of Typography Landscape forum, which took place earlier this year. Also a curator and member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), Jiang Hua studied BA Graphic Design and completed his PhD in communication design at CAFA. Here he discusses practicing and researching design, as well as typography and a consideration of Chinese culture through language.

How do you define your role in design?
In a broader sense, I am a practitioner of design, and a researcher in typography. This has been greatly influenced by my thesis advisor Professor Wang Min, and Professor Xu Pin (also from CAFA). Under their influence, I came to realise that both design practice and research are inseparable: my practice is research-based, and my research is carried out through practice.

What inspires your work?
I am greatly inspired by people, as well as the kind of life they want to live. I refer to this as a sensitivity towards everyday life rather than concrete inspirations. Everyday life is my greatest source of thinking and ideas. For those who create, everyday life practice is the idea tank. If art takes root in life, then design creates the foundations of art.

Why did you decide to specialise in typography?
Partly influenced by Professor Wang Xu; typography is also associated with Chinese culture in various respects and is, therefore, an appropriate medium to carry out research into social and cultural issues in China.

What do you plan to focus on for 2012?
I’ll be concentrating on two research-based projects: one is the critique of design entity, and the other focuses on modern Chinese typography.

Typography is both a language and method with which to carry out research about local society. It also has such a great influence on shaping modern culture. Without discussing Chinese typography, it is not possible to interpret Chinese language. So many of us are talking about design in China or design in a Chinese context, and I deem it the responsibility of educators, schools and design institutes to carry out serious research on the topic. This, in my opinion, starts with typography.