While the face-kini is the latest strange Chinese phenomenon, there are designs emerging from China that are not strange but instead, stylish. Two such designs, PodKit Watch? + ClipClok?, are iPod nano? watch accessories currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
An American-Taiwanese industrial designer, Simon Kwan, is amongst the coming wave of independent designers and smaller brands that want to change Western consumers' perceptions of Chinese design. With the success of Apple? MacBooks?, iPhones?, and iPods?, all made in China, the quality and perception of Chinese made products is already improving. Designed in China, however, is still a novel idea, with very few Chinese brands, such as Lenovo? and Haier?, and even fewer Chinese designers making inroads into Western markets. Kwan, and others like him, is seeking to change that.
Kwan's PodKit Watch? is a modern retro mix of a classic gentlemen's pocket watch and personal electronics accessory. Inspired by the success of LunaTik?, the first Kickstarter design project to raise almost $1 million in crowdfunding, Kwan decided to also use the site to launch his own take on the iPod?-as-watch product trend. His design, however, adds some new twists. Unlike the LunaTik?, PodKit Watch? isn't worn on the wrist. It comes with two chains allowing it to be either worn on clothing and bags or as a pendant.
Indeed, Kwan hopes his design will appeal better to women, who may not wish to wear a nano wristwatch, which is somewhat ironically bulky on the wrist. Kwan's design also doesn't require tools to install or remove the nano. As with classic pocket watches, this one has a spring loaded cover that protects the nano's touchscreen display. Opening the cover also simultaneously wakes up the nano's display from its power saving sleep mode. Nano wristwatch owners need to press the nano's power button using their other hand to do the same.
The ClipClok? is an analog watch, or timepiece module as its designer refers to it, that is shaped just like a nano. It's meant to be swapped in place of the nano when owners either can't wear the nano as a watch, like on rainy days or when their nanos need recharging, or when the next generation iPod nano? is introduced, most likely featuring a new shape and size.
Kwan launched his Kickstarter project at the beginning of August, and with a little over a week remaining, has not had as much success as he had hoped in reaching his funding goal. Does this signal that the world isn't ready for Designed in China? Kwan thinks not.
He instead women's jackets online believes his campaign's slow funding is due to his lack of PR and marketing savvy. Prior to launching his campaign, Kwan didn't even have a Twitter account. He has learned quickly and is now active on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. It remains to be seen, however, if his actions now are enough for PodKit Watch? + ClipClok? to succeed.
Regardless of the outcome, Kwan says this, his first attempt at crowdfunding, has been an incredible learning experience, "My backers, friends, and family have been so supportive. I've received enough honest compliments about my designs that I feel confident if I fail this first time out, I can re-structure, re-launch, and succeed in the future. I think there are great designs waiting to come from designers in China, and crowdfunding is a fantastic way to both fund them and validate consumer interest."
Simon Kwan is an American-Taiwanese product designer, originally from Quincy, Massachusetts, now based in Shanghai. Over his 15 year career as, first, a mechanical engineer, and now as an industrial designer, he has developed commercially successful products both technical; such as audio systems and go-karts, and beautiful; such as luxury travel amenities, fashion bags, and home décor products.