New Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Meichun Liu Discusses Sustainability and Product Design | Arts and culture



Meichun Liu always knew she wanted to specialize in industrial design. As an undergraduate student at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, Liu was interested in design from the start. She weighed in on similar majors like architecture and urban design, but ultimately felt drawn to the smaller scale of industrial design.

“I’ve always loved designing things,” Liu said. “I liked to draw, I liked the creative stuff, so [industrial design] was one of the best options.

Liu is one of three new professors to join the UW School of Art + Art History + Design in the 2021-22 academic year. Liu will start teaching as an assistant professor in the design department in the fall.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in Taiwan, Liu returned to her family in Canada and obtained her master’s degree in design from the University of Alberta. It was at this time that she became interested in teaching.

“I entered [my] teaching post by accident, ”Liu said. “I was like, ‘I’ll be a designer all my life, and this is the only career I’m going to have.'”

Liu has worked in academia and in product design for most of his career. After graduating with her master’s degree, Liu founded her own design company, Wolkeland Design, in 2010. A year later, she accepted an assistant professor position at Asian University in Taiwan, eventually becoming the chair of the department. creative products.

Meichun Liu 1

Courtesy of Meichun Liu

Wolkeland Design’s focus extends from biomedical devices to Bluetooth speakers and many products have received awards from several countries. Liu said his favorite project was also the most complex – a working prototype of a 16-person electric bus.

“Eventually, they actually built the working prototype and [we] were able to get on the bus, ”Liu said. “It’s very exciting to be able to get on the bus that we designed.

Liu is currently completing his doctorate. at North Carolina State University. His research project focuses on adaptive design, which is an alternative to user-centered design or human-centered design. While user-centered design is created around the individual, Liu’s research is “related to systems design, which involves solving a design problem in a complex environment.”

“To think about or solve a problem from a systems perspective, it helps us understand the scope and complex interactions within a large, complex system,” Liu said.

Liu also described his work using a metaphor: “Keeping one eye on the tree and the other on the forest”.

Liu said her research is never really finished and there are always new frontiers to explore, but as a short-term goal, she hopes to collaborate with engineers, AI experts and machine learning professionals. to “broaden the understanding of a more complex system.” . “

“What engineers care about is efficiency, effectiveness and a perfect world where there are no mistakes, but people make mistakes all the time,” Liu said. “It is very difficult to integrate this concept in a world dominated by technology, because we have to be more tolerant.

At UW, Liu looks forward to teaching studio design classes and developing concepts and prototypes with her students.

“As a product designer, we like tangible things,” Liu said. “Today there are a lot of exciting activities that actually take place on screen or on screen. I believe it’s our role to bring these digital experiences back to the real world.

Meichun Liu 2

Courtesy of Meichun Liu

Liu said she was eager to explore the combination of technology and ordinary objects with her future students. Attaching digital elements and abilities to everyday objects, like the mug on her desk, is something she hopes to explore. Recreationally, she is excited to move to Seattle to go rock climbing and visit Olympic National Park.

For the future of design as a whole, Liu stressed the importance of sustainability. Along with teaching, she hopes to educate future designers on ethical concerns in design as well as design skills.

“Sustainability is more than environmental sustainability – it includes social equity and many other aspects,” Liu said. “Although we consider sustainability or sustainable design to be a specialty area, I think this concept should be incorporated into all design… design courses.

Contact screenwriter Natalie Roy at Twitter: @nataliedroy

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