Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Han Xiao. I come from China. I did the first part of my studies in China with a bachelor’s degree at the Wuhan Institute of Technology in spatial design. I came to France in 2015. I spent six months at the Université de Nantes perfecting my French, then six months in the preparatory class for the master’s program at L’École de design. In 2016, I joined the master’s program Health and Social Innovation in the Care Design Lab.
You began your studies in China – what made you decide to pursue your studies abroad and why France?
With hindsight, I find that what I learnt in China was very limited. I devoted all my energy to finding the perfect visual appearance, the highest quality or the most advanced technology. Everything I designed was a kind of pipe dream that lacked any methodology to develop it and didn’t take into account user needs. I spent four years doing design in China without understanding design. The master’s program enables me to understand new concepts, to improve my design thinking and to fine-tune my projects.
I chose to come to France to study design for several reasons:
• French design compares very well with other countries.
• The French language is beautiful.
• The artistic atmosphere is friendly and welcoming in France. The country accepts all genres of art and design and gives a lot of support to young designers.
• Each year there are many different art and design exhibitions.
Health & Social Innovation MDes program
Did the preparatory training that you had at the school prepare you well for your master’s program?
Yes, I think the Master’s preparatory program helped me a lot. This preparatory training taught me the school’s methodology and enlightened my thinking. The workshops and group work have strengthened my communication skills. Finally, the teaching staff who all come from very different backgrounds really open our minds.
Why did you choose the Health & Social Innovation MDes program?
The Care Design Lab looks at problems concerning vulnerable populations like children, the elderly or the disabled… These social groups can be easily neglected or overlooked. In China, society often neglects their needs, yet it is these people who need help. I wanted to think about how I can use innovative design to help them have a better life. That’s why I chose the Health & Social Innovation MDes program.
How easy was it to integrate the training program?
At the beginning, as the school’s methodology was completely new to me, I found it difficult to understand. But thanks to the classes, workshops and some help from my teachers and classmates, I quickly improved and understood the expectations. Now I can use design methods to develop my final degree project.
What is your final degree project about? Why did you choose this topic?
The subject of my final degree project is the second child in China. Since China has now authorized all Chinese couples to have a second child, the one-child policy is over. But according to some surveys, Chinese families no longer want to have a second child. I have a lot of friends who complain about really wanting a second child but who are afraid of this choice. Based on the obstacles which influence a family’s desire to have a second child, I defined my research question: How can we simplify the organization of the desire for a second child in Chinese families?
Living in Nantes
What do you think of Nantes?
I think that Nantes is a dynamic city. There are a lot of cultural activities. The locals are very friendly and I think the Machines de l’Ile, the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the château des Ducs are really interesting.
What things do you find surprising about France?
When I first arrived in France, the things which surprised me were, in no particular order: people kiss to say hello, they eat snails, they aren’t punctual, shops are shut on Sundays, no one drinks hot water and a lot of women smoke.