Designers to Watch

05.01.2017
By AnnMarie Martin

Contributor

Asecond-year interior design graduate student at the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), Yu-Hsiang Fu was the grand-prize winner of this year’s ASID Student Portfolio Competition. Winners were recognized at the society’s National Student Summit (SCALE) last month at the University of Oklahoma.

Fu walked away with a $5,000 scholarship and an internship with Studio O+A after two online reviews, one round of finalist interviews, as well as portfolio presentations at SCALE. Fu will be honored in July at the ASID Awards Gala in San Diego.  

“This honor made me think of what Steve Jobs once said: ‘You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future,’” Fu said. “It was my industrial design background connecting with what I learned in interior design at NYSID that allowed me to stand out from the finalists.

Thanks to NYSID for providing a well-designed program with outstanding professionals and professors.” Fu received his bachelor’s degree in industrial design in his home country of Taiwan prior to applying to NYSID’s Master of Fine Arts (Post-Professional) in Interior Design program.
But this wasn’t the first time that Fu’s portfolio stood out from the crowd. Last year he snagged first place in the IIDA NY Student Design Awards for his retail design class project.

With brands forever searching for that sweet spot—the perfect balance between an online and physical presence that best accommodates the shopping habits of consumers—Fu’s concept offered some much-needed direction.

Randy Fahey, past-president, IIDA New York Chapter, served as a judge for the awards. He described Fu’s submission as “a beautifully simple design approach for a retail company. It is clean, fresh, and gives new meaning to the term ‘interior architecture.’”

Inspired by online clothing brand Everlane’s policy of radical transparency, Fu developed a brick-and-mortar concept that gives consumers a destination to interact with the products and materials they’ve purchased (or will purchase) online and submerge themselves in an honest manufacturing process.

“I think customers have the right to know more—more details and more information in order to build a better relationship with the brand,” he noted.

With a number of clothing brands called out for mistreatment of workers and lack of price transparency, Everlane has set out to change the face of the industry by revealing and promoting all factories with which it works and listing all of its costs—from production to delivery—on its website.
Aside from merchandising zones, Fu’s layout features four main “experience areas”—divided into cashmere, leather bags and accessories, T-shirts and sweatshirts, and knits—which include raw materials, screens, and videos that tell the stories of the various factory partners and workers, and fitting rooms.

“Customers can experience the entire process from touching the materials to trying on the product,” he said. He also takes it one step further with overhead panels that will mimic real-time weather conditions in the various Everlane partner factory locations.

Fu graduates this month, and is also completing a spring internship at multidisciplinary firm AvroKO’s New York City office. He says his passion lies in commercial design and hopes to land a position that will keep him in the Big Apple for the next few years.

Fu’s portfolio can be viewed at issuu.com/yuhsiangfu/docs/portfolio2016.