INTERVIEW WITH YUQIAO QIN
Yuqiao is Brooklyn-based multimedia and mix-reality designer, she focuses on utilizing emerging tech such as VR/AR/XR to create cross-disciplinary interactive experiences and immersive narratives for the world-leading artist and brands. The projects she worked on had gained commercial success and won various awards, such as Kórsafn for Musician Björk, My Blue Thoughts for Musician Lauv, Circulate for fashion brand Ahluwalia and Sol LeWitt App for the leading art figure Sol LeWitt. Recently, as more and more companies start to sup on metaverse, she started to help the world’s leading tech companies to define and design the upcoming Mix Reality and Augmented Reality interaction mode and experience content.
Q: Tell me about your background?
A: I was originally born and raised in China. As a kid, most of the time I was at home all day by myself, watching graphic books and playing Legos. My parents are both software engineers, which was very rare in the early 90s. Both of them were very modern and open-minded. My dad was always trying to educate me on what beauty is. One day my dad brought back the transparent shell iMac and started to show me how great it felt and how ugly the rest of the computers were. My "design critiques" practice started from a very young age thanks to my dad. There was no doubt to my parents that I was going to study design. During college, I got systematic training on aesthetics, materials, philosophy and HCI. That was an important period of time to me, it's the cradle where I shaped my design thinking, gained design skills, and started to reconsider the world in a poetic but controversial way.
Q: What made you choose the path on multimedia mix-reality design?
Q: Emerging technology is involved in most of your work, how do you feel about the role technology plays in art/design projects?
A: It’s actually very similar to another traditional design argument that had been going on for one hundred years: Form follows Function or Form preceded function. Everyone has their own opinions. For me, multimedia design is like standing at the crossroads of design and technology. You cannot slide yourself to either of them otherwise you will lose your balance, but you also have to steer far enough to see how both paths land. I admire technology, it plays a very important role in interaction design and in most of the cases it pushes the boundary of creativity further but of course, in the meantime it challenges the design by creating related limitations. As a designer, we should always dance with yoke, so in this way, technology is a necessary partner to move forward. Last year, I worked on a digital heritage preservation project called Ancient Olympia: Common Ground which is a collaboration between the Greek ministry and Microsoft. It's a great example about how profoundly technology can provoke creativity. In the project, we use AI to scan, calculate and restore the glorious past of Ancient Olympia and digitally bring its structures and cultural impact to life like never before. It's an amazing experience for our generation and also a preserved gift for the future generations.
Q: Share some of the most interesting award-winning projects you've participated in?
A: There are two projects that I was very proud of, one is the Circulate for Ahluwalia, and the other is the X-Ambassador Boom Experience. I am interested in the fashion industry while caring and worrying about the environment and sustainability. Designing Circulate is an exciting journey for me which enables me to participate in the Upcycling process for the coming fashion chapter. Circulate works as a bridge between the public and the brand, it allows people to donate their gently used garments which will be recreated into limited-edition garments through the talented creative team. The project made the Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards Finalist, it lightened the industry and set an example for the industry and helped make fashion as a whole more renewable.
The project for X-Ambassador is also a sweet memory. The keyboard of the rocker band X-Ambassador is blind and cannot enjoy traditional music videos the way sighted people do. For this project, we created two music narratives inside one custom app and used binaural recording and sound effects layered over and under the stems of the original song. When experiencing, the narrative responds to mobile devices' internal gyroscopes and creates a contextual immersive music experience. The project won the Clio Award, it's a music video without video and an entirely new way to think about sonic storytelling.
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you address them?
A: Recently I have been working on exploring and defining the primary interaction model inside the metaverse. I am excited to work in such a new world that hasn't been well defined yet even though there are not many references I can take into account. This type of work is very challenging, we need to look backward and forwards at the same time, to understand how it becomes what it is today and how it will continue to unfold in both the near and far future, besides that, we also need to look deep to understand it’s the essence to avoid driven too far by the technology itself. All the design questions will go back to humans and nature, what we do is finding a balance point for helping the human being to live a better life, and finding a way to see beauty.