We recently had the chance to speak with Marc Cansier, one of the partners and founders of the eponymous cutting edge creative agency Marc & Chantal Design.

The scope of your work spans over very different disciplines, do your teams work on specific clients and projects or you rotate the projects to give everyone a variety of multi-disciplinary projects?

Yes, the variety in our projects – it is a unique characteristic of our company and a lot of our team members join us for this precise reason. One day, a designer may be working on a branding project for a hotel, and the next a public gallery for say, Hong Kong’s new LegCo facilities. We’re always encouraging the team to embrace challenges, and step outside of the box when it comes to their approach to a new project. And the fact that everyone in the company has the chance to work on a wide array of disciplines and industries helps us approach each project with a fresh set of eyes.

What defines a good designer?

Personality and awareness. Design is mostly about problem solving and finding solutions. But good, or great, design transcends the function. A designer’s personality should be able to shine through the solution, without clouding it…So there is this constant tension between the mind and the heart.

Just the other day in our Hong Kong studio, we were looking at the work of Saul Bass. It’s just mind blowing how he was able to balance his mind and heart in his work. To me, when a designer reach that point, his/her work can have a profound effect. (You can put Steve Jobs in that category too…)

Tell us a little more about the starting point of working on the identity of The Opposite House, Beijing

Keycard design inspired by the reflection of the Forbidden City

It is a very special project for us. It was the first hotel to be opened by Swire, so we really got to explore and set a tone for Swire Hotels. Understated, yet playful, elegance – there is so much to say about it because of the impact it had on the industry and in Beijing as a whole. It really became a magnetic point and redefined an entire neighborhood.

I really wanted to do this talk at the Beijing Design Week, about the making-of The Opposite House, with a representative of Kengo Kuma and Swire Hotels. I wanted to convey that such results could only be achieved because of the vision and values that underpinned the whole team’s process.

Many people have come to us after this project, basically to emulate an “opposite house” experience. But it’s not that straightforward!

To achieve such result you need a clear understanding of what it means to create a new experience – a notion that many find quite challenging to grasp.

The Opposite House worked because of what I like to think of as the “Heart.” This means the values, purpose and vision that, even from the starting point, were so clearly and powerfully articulated by Brian Williams and his team. A real brand is above all a “culture” and the team that drives the brand needs to truly internalize the entire process and vision.

This clarity in vision is a rarity, which is very reassuring in a way…

Most challenging project to date?

We’re always up for a challenge! That’s where we thrive. I would say that the Shopin project we did in Beijing was both challenging and very rewarding. Shopin is a Discount Retailer in Beijing, with an online and offline business model.

We went through a complete re-branding exercise, through positioning, brand definition, naming, brand identity and retail environment.

To do this for a Chinese client is obviously a challenge, because there is still a big gap when it comes to the understanding of branding in China. But they were very attentive, open and ready to follow our lead. The result proved to be quite powerful and really turned-over their brand. This is exactly the kind of challenge we are looking forward to in China.

Advice for people starting a career in design?

Just believe that you can impact the world. Design will increasingly be a part of people’s life… So step out of the “designer” world and start talking to scientists, engineers, economists, activists, whoever… we will all be “designers” together. They all need us and we need them!

Marc & Chantal Design was founded in Hong Kong in 1993 by Marc Brulhart, Marc Cansier and Chantal Rechaussat. The vision was to create a studio that would cross-over design disciplines and answer emerging needs in an holistic, rather than segmented approach. Today the company is fueled by the talent and creativity of 35 individuals, harnessing this accumulated know-how in crafting unique multi-dimensional brand experiences.

The partners were guided by their design education in Paris and Milan to develop an open working environment, one in which lateral thinking and creative interaction are encouraged and nurtured.

With 18 years of experience in connecting major international brands and corporations to the Asia Pacific market, the studio is now more than ever dedicated to act as a bridge between Eastern and Western culture and has recently started bringing its expertise and sensibility to major Chinese companies such as China Mobile and Yintai Property.

Marc Cansier and Chantal Rechaussat both studied fine arts and graphic design at the Ecole Superieure d’Art Graphique (Atelier Penninghen) in Paris.

Marc Brulhart studied product and interior design at the European Institute of Design in Milan.

Interview by Juliana Loh, Social Media Manager, Swire Hotels and editor-in-chief of the blog. Follow her tweets: @bilbaobab or 微博 @julianaloh

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