After Myriam Picovschi in Canada and Xavier Ferré in Hong Kong, the team of school ambassadors abroad is growing with the arrival of Thomas Rogel and Antoine Guéret, both 2016 alumni, in Shanghai.
Upholding the school’s values, the ambassador is both the local point of contact for alumni and the school representative at Shanghai events.
2 different academic careers: 1 conventional training course, the other a work-study program
Thomas ROGEL: “After completing an initial foundation year common to all students, I opted for the Spatial Design bachelor’s program before joining the Transcultural Design Master’s degree in China. I graduated in 2016.”
Antoine GUÉRET: “After doing a scientific Baccalaureate, I joined the 1st year of the 5-year Master’s program then did a 2-year work-linked HND in Product Design at Smurfit Kappa Siemco, a company specializing in packaging for the perfume and food sector. Next, I did the Brand Design 3CI course then the China Studio in Shanghai through the Transcultural Design China Master’s program.”
Thomas ROGEL: “I was recruited at AIA Life Designers Shanghai, an Architect’s firm specialized in, among other things, the health sector (general and specialized hospitals, maternity hospitals, clinics, retirement homes), after doing my workforce preparation internship there in the 5th year. I’ve been there for three years now. We’re split between two divisions: Architecture and Design, and both professions are mixed during projects. I work on the various project phases: Schematic Design, Design Development, construction drawings and construction follow-up. The scale of projects and the speed of implementation mean that I get to work on a broad spectrum of tasks: plans/elevations/section views, 3D, perspectives, meetings with clients and suppliers, building sites, etc. In the space of three years, we’ve seen 7 establishments open their doors and 6 others near completion.”
Antoine GUÉRET: “For the past two years I’ve been a designer at Centdegres Shanghai, an international branding agency specialized in cosmetics. The majority of our clients are Chinese and we work with the most renowned brands such as WeChat, GoodBaby and Sephora for example.
The agency is made up of five divisions (Consultant/Customer Relations, Strategy, Graphic Design, Interior Design/Architecture, Product Design). I’m responsible for creating concepts using moodboards, sketches, 3D, renderings and photoshops. I work with our clients on the creative briefs, following up projects via the mock-up stage, validation of the prototype and the start of production.
I’m learning so much about cosmetics and the language of brands through their product. I liaise with head office in Paris, the offices in the rest of China (Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Hong-Kong) but also with the international offices (Dubaï, Casablanca, Sao Paulo, Ho Chi Minh City).”
Why did you choose a career as an international designer? Why Shanghai?
Antoine GUÉRET: “It has always been a dream of mine to go to Asia, particularly China, and so that’s why I chose L’École de design. I decided to stay because China is an unbelievable place which is moving very quickly, full of inquisitive consumers who adapt quickly to new technologies and innovation. It’s an ideal playing field for a Designer.
Shanghai is very accessible for foreigners and it’s easy to establish a network thanks to communication channels like WeChat and a lot of open events. I feel like they give young Designers more opportunities and responsibilities in China. That can be quite scary but it’s incredibly formative and rewarding.”
Thomas ROGEL: “The decision to go down the expat route came at the end of my 3rd year when I opted to join the Transcultural Design Master’s program in Shanghai. The desire to discover a new culture and new behaviors and to find appropriate solutions for these lifestyles so different to French ones is what led me to pursue an international career.
Employment opportunities, but also the energy and dynamics of the Chinese market had a strong influence on my decision to stay on after graduating. The diversity of profiles that make up the city of Shanghai make social connections even more rewarding. As Antoine was saying, the responsibilities and opportunities on offer mean that you can cram a wealth of experience into a relatively short time span.”
Can you tell us about the role of the designer in Asian society?
Thomas ROGEL: “China and, more generally, South-East Asia, is experiencing tremendous growth and new questions about major issues such as eating habits, transport, information and housing are highly topical. Designers therefore have to challenge current methods and come up with solutions and innovations. The advantage of the demography of Asian countries (particularly in China) is that a niche market in Europe will reach millions of users, creating real sustainability and a privileged position for designers.”
Antoine GUÉRET: “It’s difficult to generalize for the whole area and China has a special place in Asia. As a French designer, I offer a more conceptual approach to projects as well as questioning uses and values. My European conception of esthetics helps our Asian clients to develop products that are more suitable for an international market. My methodology allows me to respond effectively to briefs and makes me flexible in the way I work.”
And in the future?
Thomas ROGEL: “I intend to continue my experience in China for a while longer, until an opportunity comes along to work in another country.”
Antoine GUÉRET: “I plan to pursue my Chinese experience for a few more years before going on to discover new markets and cultures. I find it extremely inspiring to be immersed in different ways of working, representations and esthetics.”
What will your role be as an Alumni Ambassador?
Thomas ROGEL: “Being in constant contact with the students, teaching staff, alumni and members of L’École de design, becoming an ambassador gives me the opportunity to bring together all these circles to create a positive dynamic centred on design and the School.”
Antoine GUÉRET: “I really want to welcome newcomers, consolidate the school’s alumni network, create projects and promote China, its advantages and its opportunities.”