Interview with China's celebrated architect and interior designer

Dai Kun

October, 2021

Dai Kun is China’s famed architect and interior designer. A multi-awarded designer, Dai Kun’s works are widely publicized in China’s media and showcased in the international design scene. He has authored several design books and served as the deputy director of the Chinese Furnishing Professional Art Committee. Asia Designers Directory interviews Dai Kun to find out more about his career journey and his contribution to China’s design scene.


As one of the leading interior designers in China who possesses an in-depth understanding of the country’s design landscape, can you share how has the design scene in China evolved amid rapid socioeconomic growth and a higher standard of living today, and how does this impact designers.

Interior design can inspire living, stir connections and impact our lives on a personal level. As living standards in a country rise, society’s requirements towards aesthetics and interior design will understandably change. To keep abreast with the evolutions and changing needs of our society, interior designers are challenged to rethink design, reinvent themselves, and curate designs that remain relevant.






You are an imminent figure in China’s interior design scene who has found success in creating interiors with global influence. Can you tell us about your career trajectory and in your pursuit for success, the challenges faced along the way?

Born in 1970, I am only now in my early 50s. I am humbled by the attention I am given in the industry and feel that my standing in China can be attributed to the fact that I started working at a young age. Over the years, I have amassed much experience and credibility, and hence a certain status in this field.

My success can be attributed to good fortune. Like many from my generation, I benefitted from China’s strong economic growth and thriving industrial activities even in my early years. I have also been blessed with many opportunities along the way. For instance, it was not easy enrolling in a university after graduating from high school, but I managed to enroll in the department of architecture – a life-defining event that has since sealed my destiny as a designer.

After graduating, I had another stroke of good luck as I landed a rare opportunity to work for Ma Guoxin, the chief designer of the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design. The stint proved to be a huge boost to my career. Under his guidance, I had the privilege of learning the ins and outs of the profession from one of the finest practitioners and academia in the industry. I also learnt best work practices that have been instrumental to my career growth.

Following the Asian financial crisis, the construction industry was riding on an upward trajectory as the economy rebounded sharply. Only 30 years of age, I decided to strike it out on my own and dived into the sea of opportunities. At that time, I was full of zeal and an impulse to succeed. A flourishing landscape provided young designers like myself the invaluable opportunity to hone our skills, with even room to make mistakes and grow.

After a decade, I decided to shift my emphasis from architectural design to interior design. With a background in architecture, I felt that I could provide a fresher and broader perspective, which few interior design practitioners could at that time, by approaching interior design with an appreciation for and understanding of architecture, and hence added much needed depth to many projects. 

In hindsight, I could not have enjoyed the freedom to switch fields with relative ease if not for a strong economic backdrop where opportunities were abundant. I consider this a privilege that my generation of designers enjoys.













You have many iconic works. What is your design philosophy and your approach towards each project.

Design is subjective. Based on a set of criteria and conditions, design to me is a problem-solving process where we bridge creative vision and reality. There can be infinite ways to dress a space, but a good designer is one who can best breathe life to a brief based on the given resources and requirements.

For me, every project begins with an analytical process, where I spotlight inherent traits such as the place, time, characteristics of the building and site. A design gradually unfolds as I take a multifaceted approach towards bringing together all elements. I tend to refrain from presupposing the outcome at the very beginning. Instead, I appreciate the process of letting a design slowly unravel.







What is the source of your design inspiration?

Coming from an architectural background, I feel that my approach towards design is more analytic and methodological, and not so much spurred by inspirations.




You play an active role in China’s design associations to promote the education and advancement of Chinese designs. You have also published design books. What is your outlook on China’s design scenes moving forward?

Every generation of architects or interior designers is tasked with the mission to shape societies. I feel that our generation of designers is tasked to elevate the standard of China’s industry by means of anticipating and leveraging technology to be on par with international levels. We can achieve this by setting high standards for the work that we undertake.

As a designer, I believe that we should support the growth of new designers. At the same time, we must continually hone our designs to effectually raise the image and standard of the entire industry to make good progress.

In my bid to support new designers, for instance, I have jointly set up a charitable foundation with several like-minded, accomplished designers. We aim to raise funds to advance the educational and development opportunities of young designers in China. At the same time, I devote time to teach part-time courses in colleges and universities to help nurture the next generation of designers.

Professionally, I choose to adopt a more hands-on approach as I actively participate in projects’ designs, as opposed to delegating the creative work to my colleagues.

Generally, I am more focused on the process than the outcome. I hope that through ongoing efforts, I can continue to contribute to China’s design scene.

您在设计行业协会担当要职,负者推动中国设计的教育推广及发展, 也出版设计为主题的书籍。对于中国的设计和艺术发展,请问您抱有怎样的期望呢?







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