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Michael Tsang

New York, United States

Product Design

Member since September 08, 2008

  • An update of my design process.



    Pros and Cons of traditional Chinese furniture and western furniture - This information is based on the survey and my observation. This would help me to understand my design direction.

    Traditional Chinese furniture:


    1) absence of hardware

    2) complicated joinery for structural purposes

    3) Use of wood reduces temperature build-up

    4) Material is durable


    1) hand-crafted ornamentation and joinery, which requires labor and skills -> increases the price

    2) cannot be mass-produced

    3) rigid and uncomfortable

    4) not environmentally sustainable due to the harvest of exotic woods, such as red wood…etc.

    5) generates a lot of waste during production

    Western / contemporary furniture:


    1) innovative use of materials

    2) multi-purpose function

    3) easy to mass produce

    4) more comfortable than traditional Chinese furniture


    1) not durable due to the use of cheap materials

    2) variation in quality due to mass production.

    3) Materials are not environmentally sustainable

    Re-designing traditional Ming furniture with a modern twist is still the priority of my design criteria. However, I still have other important considerations that need to be addressed that directly affect the consumer’s consumption choice. According to the survey I conducted, price and ergonomics are the main concerns besides the aesthetics, which determines whether the buyer falls in love with or walks away from the furniture. I will meet with Chinese Institute in America, a non-profit organization, in order to complete user testing. CIA is the only China culture-related organization that I was able to find in NYC; they have many Chinese staff members that will able to give me advice on the aesthetic and ergonomics of my design. I will also bring my design to Chinese furniture stores in Chinatown to compare it with existing Chinese furniture.

    My approach with the design is to use traditional Chinese features that will immediately be recognized as typical Chinese design elements, such as the use of repetitive curvy lines, and motifs. In terms of the manufacturing process and materials, I am leaning more towards mass production, due to the rising demand for home furniture in China. I will use the CNC machine, which is fast, efficient, and less labor some; this will also help to lower the price of the furniture. I have already connected with a manufacturer in Dongguan, China, who will be able to produce my design. When comparing Chinese and western furniture, the materials that are used are not always environmentally sustainable as they tend to use hardwood and softwood. Although I am planning to use wood as well in order to conserve the traditional look and quality, I will devise a way to use as little material as possible by using a 4’ X 8’ sheet of plywood (type of plywood is yet to be determined), to avoid wasting material.

    This is a link to the results of my survey that I conducted on a number of different China forums. here

    This is a link to the individual studies of Ming style furniture forms, lines and curves, ornamentations, and joinery...etc here

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My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design