We decided to post this list of FAQ (frequent asked questions) to help anyone interested in finding out what makes us tick, especially design students who frequently email us questions for their school assignments.

Besides the FAQ, we like to encourage the design students to explore our projects on the website to come to your own conclusions for the assignments. Design thinking involves decision making- we suggest you don’t ask us which is our favorite project, but decide on your preference and think about why it appeals to you. Good luck!

1. When did the studio start and how did it came about?

Tsai Design Studio is a small design practice funded by architect Y Tsai in 2005. It began with several small commissions, ranging from one-off furniture pieces, small product design developments and some architectural projects. The diversity of these original commissions cemented the philosophy that we practice daily – we like to work across disciplines on all forms of design, it is the variations of each design discipline that stimulate new ideas and constantly open our eyes to fresh perspectives.

2. What inspires the studio’s design work?

We are inspired by people. It is by observing people and be sensitive to their behaviors that we learn to design better human centered solutions.

We are also inspired by nature. Nature offers the best design solutions on many levels. The ecosystem, for instance, is the perfect example of System Design thinking. Another example, the ant-hill, has been said to be one of the best green architecture in nature, complete with its own central cooling and heating system.

3. What are the studio’s design considerations when starting a new project?

Our design projects are always concept driven. In other words, we like to start a project with a simple idea that allows us to explore its options. It is the glue that allows other considerations such as context, environment, economy and function to come together. This methodology also means that we can explore the same idea repetitively on other projects- using the all the lesson learnt- to test a new outcome.

4. What does the studio strives to achieve through design?

It is easy when projects have little or no design parameters to take into consideration. However in the really world, we are bound by many restrictions that limit the optimum outcome. Over the years, especially on social projects, we have learnt to work with minimum budgets to achieve the maximum impact for the benefit of the communities.

We hope, through these valuable experiences, as well as our other design endeavors, we can continue to make a bigger impact to the people around us.

5. What is the studio’s approach on sustainability?

While we aim for design solutions that makes as little footprint on the environment as possible, it is not always possible within the social and economic context we work in. However we also believe in practicing creativity that exercises our intellect and sensibility. This means we don’t claim to be ‘green’ designers, but as good designers that can balance many pressing issues without losing our creative integrity.

6. Any good tips for the young designers out there?

This is what we have learnt- to make ideas happen it takes a creative mind as well as an entrepreneurial spirit, it is not about good drawings and cool presentations, it is about a steady persistence in order to bring the ideas to life.

7. Are there any designers that the studio likes and look up to?

There are too many amazing designers to mention.

In South Africa, just to name a few, we love the architectural work of Henrich Wolff of Wolff Architects (www.wolffarchitects.co.za), and Jo Noero (www.noeroarchitects.com), as well as social entrepreneur such as Charles Maisel.

As for the international designers, we are in owe of British design maverick Thomas Heatherwick’s (www.heatherwick.com) creativity, American architectural practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro (www.dsrny.com, architects for the New Your Highline Project), as well as the amazing Bjarke Ingels and his team at BIG (www.big.dk).