Brian Lee

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Brian Lee



I am a design practitioner and educator in the product, interaction and social design disciplines, with specific expertise in ageing & healthcare product design, sustainable lifestyle & consumption analysis in Asian contexts, participatory design/ co-creation approach, collaborative prototyping tools/ methods development, and with an interest in which the emerging material, cultural & technological integration, artisanal practice, production methods, and consumption practices intersect. In the capacity as the leader of Asian Lifestyle Design Lab of School of Design, I lead design research projects including future public furniture design, intergenerational park design, envisioning new service design for an elderly nursing home, quality home living for elderly, place-making with and for elderly in rural areas in China, Japan and Korea, and eco-materials archive for sustainable product design.

Born in Hong Kong, I studied at the School of Design, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and gained his Degree in Industrial & Product Design at the end of the 90s, the Masters of Arts in Design and PhD in Design and Technology after years of professional practice and teaching. I had worked in design consultancy firms in HK and Germany for developing medical equipment, OBM design for lifestyle products, watches & clocks and jewellery, and was a Design Director of a furniture manufacturer & retailer in HK & Shanghai.

I won numerous international design awards. I also play active roles in servicing design professional and non-profit organizations. I am awarded the outstanding contributions to the development of arts and culture in the Secretary for Home Affairs' Commendation Scheme 2018, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for my years of creative inputs in the capacities as curator and designer. I also serve as vice presidents of Industrial Designers Society of Hong Kong (2011-13, 13-15, 15-17), panel member for CreateSmart Initiative (by CreateHK), Design Incubation Programme (by Hong Kong Design Centre), the advisory committee for Hong Kong Smart Award from 2013-2017 (by Hong Kong Exporter's Association), and judges for various types of design competitions. 

Research area

My research anchors in concept prototyping and visual thinking amongst the transformation of people, material, culture, and social value. I have extensive experience in planning and facilitating collaborative/ participatory design workshops to explore insights on design for active ageing, lifestyle & material culture, sustainability, and methodologies on the development of interactive product and service system design.

Three interweaved pillars of applied design research works are being established recently to forging the holistic understanding of design activities in response to emerging societal problems. First, the approach of user-centred design is adopted and advocated in which participatory and co-design methods supporting community development in particular for elderly and marginalized people are being explored. Second, new production and consumption models are discussed. In search of emerging societal development and impact of new product design development (e.g. 3D printing), new design methodology exploring the argument from the conventional critique about the concept of customization vs mass production to the system thinking on local production and local consumption, are carried out. Third, the fundamental global environmental problems caused by current production and consumption patterns are addressed in the line of my works. Formulating new design processes and methodologies enriching sustainable product development has been explored for years.

Teaching area

I offer subjects to three disciplines in the School of Design, namely product design, interaction design and social design. I am offering cross-departmental teachings including undergraduate and graduate subjects for students from social sciences and engineering departments.

I take up the administrative role as programme leader of BA (Hons) in Product Design and deputy programme leader of BA (Hons) in Social Design, which carries social innovation for products and services development of the society sustainably and responsibly. I was also the programme leader of Higher Diploma in Product Innovation Technologies which is the first multi-disciplinaries academic platform interweaving inputs from the School of Design, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Industrial Centre.

I focus the teaching and learning activities in the context of the methodology in co-creation, social innovation with & for elderly/communities, product semantics in Chinese contexts, product design for sustainability, furniture design, interactive product and tangible interface. Recently, I explore social innovation strategies at flipped classroom teaching for his students and co-develops various initiatives with an alliance of NGOs that inducing a fundable project of innovative integrated services for the local underprivileged communities. This practice not only introduces the concept of the social designer to the social service practitioners in Hong Kong but also develops a new career path for the graduate of the new programme of BA(Hons) in Social Design offered by the School of Design.