From Concept to Creation, Why 3D Design Makes a Difference

In a world that is visceral, scented, and tactile, any design that gives a viewer something to engage with in a more realistic way, is powerful. CJ Yen, a 3D product designer on our own team, has found joy in the field of 3D design in retail, as its still a new field. We’re used to seeing 3D mock-ups in entertainment industries, but in the world of retail, there are so many ways this kind of design can help in the actual product’s creation.

Hear from CJ about her experience as a 3D designer, how she entered the field, and why she’s passionate about this unique type of art. You might find yourself looking at the world around you in a new way!

Tell us a bit about your background and how you entered the world of design.

I consider myself a geek. I guess I’m passionate about things I’ve loved for a long time, such as 3D animation and music. I haven’t thought much about my career path. I began as a design intern in my college years and chose to keep exploring that field from there.

How did you decide to work in 3D? What intrigues you in your job?

It traces back to my high school years. I was instantly hooked on the idea of 3D after watching a Japanese anime 最終幻想七動畫. I’ve never seen anything so vivid and beautiful and I immediately decided that I wanted to know how to make 3D designs — I wanted to create impressive 3D works that would move people in an emotional way. I remembered bugging a friend of mine to install 3D software on my computer for me.

Do you see differences between the footwear industry and past work experiences?

They’re quite similar in my opinion. In footwear and 3D post-production, the roles are all very detailed, every person has a separate responsibility. But I think that would be the same in any field, not just footwear. Everyone has a specific job to make sure that each part of the product is handled appropriately. The only difference is the product and the knowledge, but our dedication and attention to detail would be the same regardless.

Is working in 3D a male dominated work sector? Do you have other female friends in the field? How do you exchange ideas and thoughts about the industry and trends with them?

More or less yes. There are more female 3D experts joining the industry and creating amazing work, but it’s still not a lot. I exchange ideas and meet more friends alike though forums, exhibitions, trade fairs, and online communities. It’s wonderful how the internet connects people around the globe and helps to eliminate boundaries. Thanks to the technology!

How do you see the future of 3D design not only for the footwear industry, but for the larger commercial/retail world?

It’s amazing how much 3D animation has evolved in the past decade. In the past, it probably only happened this quickly in the gaming and entertainment industry. It’s now expanding more and more, to traditional industries, and I believe it will become more mainstream, to a point where it becomes a common interest, like arts and culture. I believe there will be more interesting, more innovative cutting-edge 3D applications that make their way into our lives in the future. People from rising Asian countries are also enthusiastic about 3D post-production. I’m really looking forward to seeing stunning 3D after effects made by Asian talent in the movie industry soon!

How do find inspiration and how do you inform yourself about trends and technology?

I like conducting research on the internet, I guess it’s hard for me to take my eyes away from the computer when I wake up everyday! I’m inspired by beautiful things, especially music. When I start working on a project, I immediately put my headphone on and start browsing the web. There are just so many great resources for information online; with a little imagination, you can virtually visit anywhere you’d like to go! The important thing is to be aware of when it’s necessary to evaluate and filter information. Information and technology can be too much, the complete access to knowledge can become very overwhelming.

Do you have specific 3D applications or games you love?

I like Blender, Houdini, Substance Designer. I’m quite outdated on games these days, I like Heroes of the Storm from Blizzard Entertainment, and I’m very much looking forward to the new work “Death Stranding” from 小島秀夫 (Hideo Kojima)。The way he expresses story and artistic treatment is unbelievably impressive!

What’s the most recent good book you read?

I’ve been more into comics lately. I recommend Japanese comics like 「靈能百分百」(Mob Psycho)「鬼滅之刃」(Kimetsu no Yaiba), because I love hot-blooded, enthusiastic storytelling that has an optimistic spirit. These 2 comics portray how important is it to live up to your beliefs and the things you value, which is exactly what I believe in. These stories are perfect for idealists and people with strong faith.

How do you see the 3D design screen in China? How do you see AR/VR evolving?

China is growing rapidly over the years and continues to develop in a positive direction, but I’m wary of blindly following things that seem to be popular trends — after all, popular trends come fast and vanish quickly. I imagine that AR and VR will coexist in a hybrid sort of way. It’s a challenge to bring virtual technology to market from conceptualization, but I think that’s probably the most fascinating part!

Do you feel like 3D design work is futuristic? What is the most futuristic thing about your job?

Absolutely. 3D is definitely futuristic and it blends well into our present life. 3D design are already built into cellphones, and I’m sure we’ll find even friendlier ways to engage with 3D in our lives as time passes. I’m amazed by how traditional industries (like manufacturing and retail) can adapt 3D designs into its business operations, and I’m looking forward to seeing 3D technology more involved in other areas of the market.

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