Upon walking into the office of designer Xinran Hu, you are greeted with the Apple logo on the door. As you sit down, you see an intimidating picture of Apple's founder, Steve Jobs, staring directly at the seat of the desk.
"Steve Jobs is my hero," Hu explained. "He is the combination of science, technology, art, and sensibility. If you put it all together, that is why Apple is so great." Hu relates to Jobs in the way that her standards are extremely high and she is always asking herself if her work can be better. "I am a perfectionist as a designer," Hu said. "I push myself to the extreme, to the point my work is as close as possible to perfect.”
However, before Jobs came into Hu's scope, she drew inspiration from another designer, Paul Rand, a former Yale graphic design professor who had designed logos for major companies. The book he wrote gave her the drive that propelled her into coming to the United States for graduate school.
"My education in graduate school changed my life," Hu said. Graduate school taught her design thinking. Hu said that the design process involves research, analysis, definition, idea development, implementation, and evaluation. It is a whole problem solving process, which is something many do not know. Design is "not by instinct, but research based creation/invention."
After teaching for six years, Hu became tenured Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Southern Indiana in 2009. In summer 2013, she also became the creator of Running Joys, a line of bags with symbolic meanings.
Hu did not create her designs that are now on Running Joys products to make a business. She initially did it for a research project to see if she could transform the classic traditional elements to something modern. In her designs, she combined the classic form from the east and the color theory from the west to achieve this balance. Additionally, all designs have a meaning behind them. To read about the meanings and check out the products, visit www.runningjoys.com or Cielo Luxury Shoe Boutique in downtown Newburgh where the line is carried.
Note to readers from Xinran Hu:
In Eastern culture, decorative patterns always carried symbolic meanings. For example, the peony means happiness and wealth; the lotus signifies purity, elegance, and integrity. Amazed by their beauty and richness, I modernized and colored these patterns to bring them into our own lives. With this new perspective and with these fresh new looks, I hope as you run your errands and stay on the run in your life, these bags will bring you wishes for joys, happiness, health, and wealth.
By Rachel Willis
*This is the first in a series of blog posts by our intern, Rachel Willis. Thank you Rachel!!