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April 28, 2024

Homa Pioneering Design Innovation.

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At Homa, we take pride in our role as a leading OEM refrigerator manufacturer dedicated to producing competitive appliances for renowned brands and private labels. Recognising design's paramount importance in today's competitive market, we have strategically emphasised design differentiation as part of our innovation path.

We embrace the essence of design thinking, seamlessly integrating design, marketing, R&D, and strategic insights, creating value across all dimensions of our relationships with partners. From fundamental aspects of the product user experience to crafting unexpected experiences in product repair and sustainability (discover our TSM experience), this approach transforms how we shape our distinctive business model. In doing so, we define our uniqueness – our raison d'être.

To bolster our design expertise, we have forged partnerships with esteemed international design houses, harnessing their creative insights to elevate the aesthetics and functionality of our products. For instance, all our products are designed in collaboration with Umberto Palermo in Italy (about our collaboration find more here). However, for us at Homa, design is more than aesthetics. It is an essential competitive tool for an age of perpetual disruption, and 'design thinking' encompasses not only the style and aesthetics of the product but also how we approach our business model and communicate. We are pioneers in B2B design branding and collaborate with companies like Studio Volpi (discover more about our collaboration) and other significant entities in this regard. Our last Canton fair booth was a great example of this "design experience" process. Enjoy the dedicated article on this topic.

Moreover, we have proactively broadened our design horizons by launching a Design magazine. This platform catalyses stimulating discussions, fostering creativity, and nurturing a design-centric culture among our employees and clients.

Through insightful interviews with renowned design personalities, we aim to glean valuable perspectives and insights that inspire innovation and drive positive change within our industry. By embracing cutting-edge design principles and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, we aim to position Homa as a pioneer in refrigerator design, setting new standards for excellence and innovation in the market.

Our vision extends to the entire world; however, as a Chinese company with deep local roots, we are always keen on identifying developmental trends within China. In this context, Homa Design Magazine had the privilege of an exclusive fireside chat with Lidan Liu.

 A designer, an academic and an entrepreneur, Lidan Liu is determined to give Design the place and role it deserves in our societies, in our cultures and in our everyday lives.
The multifaceted Design advocate explores every possible path on that journey, starting by rocking the stiff, dusty global corporate culture and giving back consumers a taste for experimenting and enjoying their passions to the fullest.

In today’s China, Design is beginning to emerge as the driving force of innovation and the way forward for the formidable economy of the country, indicating that industrial might alone may not be sufficient to address the challenges of our globalised society.

Among those who first embraced the idea, Lidan Liu is a passionate advocate of design as an important tool of corporate strategy and a prominent member of the jury of some of the most important international design awards, among which the prestigious iF Design Award.

Discover more in the interview below.

Copyright HOMA 2024- Issued By Federico Rebaudo, General Manager Homa Europe on May 2024
For further Information and Press Contacts:


What is the relevance of Product Design, in the broader meaning of the term, in China nowadays
As you say, Product Design has a very broad definition, and doesn’t only refer to physical objects alone but also to services and other intangible goods, and in China this definition is possibly even broader. In the past ten years, the world of digital and the internet have had a strong influence on Design in China.
More recently, there has been a notable shift of talents from Industrial Design (ID), dealing with the design of physical products, to User Experience (UX) design due to the booming growth of the Mobile Web and Web3 development. However, because of the emergence of transformative trends, such as artificial intelligence aided tools in design, this represents both a challenge and a significant opportunity for designers to evolve. These changes are eagerly anticipated for the transformative impact they could bring to the realm of designer talents.

Lidan Liu

In either case, the current landscape in the country further stresses the remarkable competitive advantage enjoyed by top Chinese brands that prioritise exemplary design, especially in the context of international exports. Therefore, many companies are investing in recruiting design talents to enhance their product design, and branding alike.

Have Product and Customer Experience Design become strategic tools for China’s businesses today?
The whole industry in China has greatly evolved, with the focus shifting from a merely competitive and price perspective to User Experience. A tell-tale sign of this new age in China is the rise of Design Vice Presidents (VPs), a phenomenon spanning even startup ventures where founders often possess a design background. The infusion of a corporate-level design culture is pivotal in fostering tangible design outcomes. Furthermore, the proliferation of emerging startups founded by designers is a noteworthy phenomenon.  As China progressively moves beyond competing solely on cost-efficiency and manufacturing prowess, design stands as a paramount driver in ascending the global market hierarchy.

How do Chinese consumers perceive Product Design? Is it important to them?
Against the backdrop of fierce competition within the Chinese market, consumers have transcended mere expectations of quality and pricing. In their decision- making, Product Design has emerged as a critical differentiating factor. This shift is accentuated by the contemporary generation of Chinese consumers, characterised by a profound alignment with personal style preferences. Consequently, they gravitate towards brands that seamlessly resonate with their individual identities.

How can design help Chinese brands stand out on the global and indeed domestic markets?
The profound impact of design on branding is best exemplified by the cultivation of a distinctive brand character that resonates with a global audience. While every brand character possesses inherent strengths and limitations, it is this uniqueness that sets brands apart. Design plays a fundamental role in evoking robust emotional connections, thereby imbuing each customer with a deeply personal sense of value.
An excellent example of effective design is DJI, the immensely successful Shenzhen-based drone company that controls a whopping 75% share of the global drone market. DJI’s accomplishments demonstrate how design can effectively highlight technological expertise while also establishing a unique brand identity and personality.
Naturally, competitive industries like consumer electronics, automotive, and lifestyle products were quick to recognize the potential of design and adopted it early on. Effective design is also crucial for communication tools like the social media app WeChat, which relies on UI/ UX design to optimize the user experience and has gained a significant following in China.

How can it help Chinese companies be more competitive?
Undoubtedly, Design has proven instrumental in enhancing the image of companies, exemplified by the paradigm set by DJI. Harnessing China’s exceptional prototyping capabilities and design prowess, products with impeccable design aesthetics offer customers an enriching journey from purchase to utilisation.
This symbiotic relationship between design and quality bolsters the competitive edge of Chinese firms on the global stage.

As a member of the jury of the most important design award, the iF, and a professor of Design, what contribution do you feel you can personally offer to support the creation of a Product Design culture in China?
As a person I don’t think I can influence Chinese Design culture that much, though I do my best to contribute.
My aspiration to make a meaningful impact in fostering a vibrant design culture aligns with the broader Chinese economy and society. While acknowledging the magnitude of this endeavour, my role entails both setting a precedent of revolutionary design and guiding the next generation of designers. My affiliation with the School of Design and Innovation at Tongji University empowers me to directly influence emerging designers, nurturing their acumen of raising critical questions to inspire new ideas for solutions towards multiple topics, such as, impact of newest technologies, and the meaning of sustainability.
Tongji University provides a dynamic platform for the exchange of diverse perspectives, also thanks to the collaboration with foreign universities such as Milan’s Polytechnic, providing for an inspiring environment that opens up the unlimited potential inherent in open discussions.

Scandinavian, Italian, German or European Design all have clearly recognisable, distinctive identities. Is there such a thing as a typical Chinese design- identity?
Actually have a strong opinion about this. I don’t see it happening in China, and I don’t think it’s necessary at this point. Everything is still so young, and exciting, it’s
too soon. The Western world has undergone a century- long evolution in design development, the trajectory of trends and identities is emblematic of historical contexts and represents a summary of past events. China has undergone a journey in design over the past three decades. At present, China’s design scene is characterised by multifaceted growth and exploration. Over time, as China matures within the design domain, a distinct and powerful design identity will emerge organically, naturally. I advocate an approach that embraces innovative ideas, potential, and opportunities over rigid definitions of “distinctive identity.”

As the founder and CEO of HOTO (HOme TOols, Ed.), your declared intent was to bring sleek modern design to everyday, mundane home tools. What motivated and inspired you when embarking on such a venture, and how did it turn out?
As a designer, I often found that in large organisations, all the important choices regarding design were taken by the companies’ executives and decision makers.
I wanted to create something were all aspects of a product, from its actual shape to the way it was marketed, to the customer experience, were driven by design. So the impetus behind HOTO’s establishment was rooted in advocating the pivotal role of design within corporate frameworks. China’s fertile landscape for new and innovative design, coupled with burgeoning platforms to incubate ideas, were a clear sign that this was the right moment to embark on this journey. The outcome has been resounding success.
HOTO has successfully introduced over 30 products, built a team of 120+ individuals, and achieved remarkable sales figures, with our flagship product, the precision screwdriver tool set, exceeding the 3-million-unit mark within 2.5 years.

What are your plans for HOTO in the near future? Where do you want to take the brand, and what is your vision for it in the long-term?
Our payoff is “make it happen”! We want to inspire people to embark on personal journeys of exploration, be it hobbies, projects, or self-development. HOTO’s trajectory is hence firmly anchored to a customer-centric paradigm.
Our strategic focus entails crafting tools and products that go beyond their utilitarian functions. Also envisioning a global footprint, HOTO seeks to be regarded as a beacon of inspiration, a catalyst for individuals to embrace new pursuits.

Would you like to share more insights about your next moves on a professional and personal level?Professionally, starting from the idea that design can be close to the user while providing for smooth and smart manufacturing, my vision is to contribute building a smarter Supply Chain: I’m working towards creating a system that brings together supply and demand in a flexible way, enhancing the efficiency of producing top- notch products. This way, we can deliver even better offerings to our customers. I also want to foster Innovation: I’m passionate about providing a platform where creative minds can come together to share and bring their ideas to life. It’s all about turning those innovative concepts into real, tangible products that can make a difference.
Finally, still on a professional level, one of my goals is to strengthen our designer Community: at HOTO, we’re looking to attract even more talented designers to join our community. By doing so, we can collectively push the boundaries of what’s possible and keep our designs at the cutting edge.

On a personal level I profoundly enjoy connecting with Visionaries: I’m really looking forward to meeting with people from all corners of the world who share a common vision for the future. It’s incredibly exciting to collaborate with individuals who have a forward-looking perspective and want to make a positive impact. I’m also all about dreaming big. I’m eager to explore new horizons and work towards building a future that aligns with the ever-evolving global landscape. There’s so much potential waiting to be harnessed, and I’m excited to be a part of that journey.
Share a common vision for the future. It’s incredibly exciting to collaborate with individuals who have a forward- looking perspective and want to make a positive impact. I’m also all about dreaming big.
I’m eager to explore new horizons and work towards building a future that aligns with the ever-evolving global landscape. There’s so much potential waiting to be harnessed, and I’m excited to be a part of that journey.

Lidan Liu

The recipient of more than one hundred design awards, including the Good Design Award, IDEA and the Red Dot Design Award, Lidan Liu founded HOTO “Home Tools” technology, in 2016, of which she is CEO.
A partner at designaffairs China from 2010 to 2018, she is also associate professor of the College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University, and a respected juror of many different design juries, such as the Braun Prize and the iF design award.

Homa Design Magazine is a vibrant editorial venture on a mission to ignite the flame of design thinking across the entire Homa community—encompassing Homa people, our partners, and beyond! Yet, its influence extends beyond these boundaries; it serves as a beacon of design culture poised to illuminate our entire industry.
Today, it stands as a remarkable testament to the potency of tangential marketing, presenting a novel approach to captivating audiences. The magazine is the result of a collaborative effort, with the original idea stemming from Homa Europe.

Editor in Chief: Federico Rebaudo

Project Coordination: Federico Gallina

Contributing writers: Elena Scandroglio, Pierre Ley, Patrizio Cionfoli 
Coordination, Design & Layout: Studio Volpi

Copyright HOMA 2024- Issued by Homa Marketing dept. on May 2024
For further information and Press Contact:

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