“How far is the future? It is right in front of us.” This is the first impression that the work, “Yao,” designed by Hu Yu and his team, brought to the journalist.
Why is a land-based two-wheeler named after a marine creature? This is because this high-tech concept car provides three riding modes: land, water, and snow!
Because of this, when it made its debut at the “2021 Sichuan-Taiwan Industrial Design Awards,” “Yao” attracted much attention and helped Hu Yu, the whole process designer, win the title of “Top Ten Industrial Designers in Sichuan and Chongqing.”
Recently, the journalist conducted an exclusive interview with Hu Yu, a rising star from Chongqing who showcased his talents at the awards. Hu Yu introduced to the journalist his 11-year passion and dream for “speeding” in transportation design.
Speedy “Yao”: the two-wheeled electric ride of the “future”
Almost everyone who sees “Yao” for the first time is captivated by its futuristic and high-tech appearance. With its metallic silver finish, ocean blue wheels, and streamlined body, it looks so cool that it seems to have flown out of a Sci-Fi movie, rushing into reality. It is just perfect for men’s aesthetics. Who wouldn’t want to be a stylish knight riding in the night and attract everyone’s attention? What’s more, this “beloved ride” can not only speed on the road but also glide on water and snow.
Before meeting Hu Yu, the journalist assumed that someone who designs future solo commuting vehicles so stylish would have a similar “trendy style.” However, the designer with black short hair, was dressed in a denim shirt and black casual pants, looking reserved and calm.
However, once he starts talking about his passion for design, Hu Yu’s eyes immediately light up, and his voice becomes particularly vibrant when he gets excited.
When talking about the birth of “Yao,” Hu Yu considered it as a hard-won achievement. He recalled, “It took us two years to tackle the first ‘pain point’—balance. Two years.” He told the journalist that stability and safety are the research and development directions for future two-wheeled electric vehicles. Moreover, for multi-use vehicles like Yao, this problem is even more urgent.
“Therefore, on one hand, we drew inspiration from autonomous driving technology and installed a pressure-damping electrical power steering system. On the other hand, we adopted a car-like single-foot control system for acceleration and braking, abandoning the traditional handlebar acceleration. This makes the ride smoother and more agile.”
After the balance issue came some new problems. How to ensure signal transmission? How to fit an automobile pressure steering into such a “compact” electric ride? Over this, Hu Yu and his engineering colleagues had numerous arguments and discussions.
Hu Yu explained it with a smile, “Design and engineering are contradictory. When aesthetics is satisfactory, there may be something wrong with engineering structures. So, debates are commonplace, and sometimes we argue and even get angry. But in the evening, a hotpot and beers make us all happy again. It’s said that designers and engineers are meant to be friends and foes. We strive for both aesthetics and performance through endless negotiations.”
Today, after a difficult “incubation”, “Yao” has successfully been born. The good news is that Hu Yu and his team are collaborating with universities in Chongqing to promote the mass production and the launch of “Yao.”
This handsome two-wheeled electric ride, carrying Hu Yu’s beautiful imagination of the “future,” is soon to venture into countless homes.
“Speedy” designer: 11 years of deep exploration in “riding”
“Yao” is the proud creation of Hu Yu and his team, but before its debut, Hu Yu had been explored in the field of transportation design for many years.
This young man from Chongqing has had a passion for drawing since childhood, especially for automotive mechanics. He was obsessed with it. As a result, he chose to study industrial design at university without hesitation. After graduation, he joined Chongqing Dusse Technology Co., Ltd. and worked his way up from a regular designer to the head of the design department in 6 years, and then became the design director in another 2 years. During his 11 years in this company, he completed numerous design projects, with his greatest passion always lying in transportation-related work.
In 2015, the company took on the project of designing the “Xiaobawang” and “Little Boy” Bent Beam Motorcycles, with Hu Yu as the chief designer. This was Hu Yu’s first real experience in designing vehicles.
He recalls that during that period, he was so excited that he worked continuously for two or three days, staying up all night, drawing, revising, and making models… He worked meticulously, and in the end, his efforts paid off. The motorcycles were produced, sold overseas, and greatly favored by African people.
Transportation design is not easy. Whether the styling satisfies the customers, whether the existing technology can be realized, whether the human-machine interaction is correct, whether it complies with national laws and regulations… Hu Yu must take all of them into consideration.
In his view, any product design starts with solving specific problems, with functionality being the essence of a product’s existence. The other aspects, such as appearance, structure, and interface, all rely on the functional existence of the product. “A good product must be practical, and user-friendly. It should stand the test of the market.”
By adhering to this philosophy, Hu Yu spent countless weekends at the company, drawing hundreds of blueprints and creating thousands of models. He launched many products that were highly praised by the design community and well-received in the market. In 2018, “Yao” was shortlisted by the China Excellent Industrial Design Award Committee; in 2019, the “Integrated Agricultural Machinery for Tuber Crops” received the Committee Excellent Award from the High-end Equipment Innovation Design Competition; and in 2020, Hu Yu’s designs, including go-karts, beach cars, scooters, and knight motorcycles, achieved total sales of over 66 million yuan.
It is because Hu Yu attaches great importance to the “appearance” and “value” of product design that he left a deep impression on the jury of the Sichuan-Taiwan Industrial Design Awards. “A cool appearance is just one of its features, the greatest of which is that its basic structure can balance land transportation with technology, entertainment, and leisure. With a simple retrofit, it can easily switch to water and snow modes. This design completely aligns with the theme of this competition, ‘Reshaping Value, Designing Future.'”
Hu Yu was delighted by such praise. “I feel deeply honored to participate in this competition and be selected as one of the ‘Top Ten Industrial Designers in Sichuan and Chongqing.’ This is the recognition of the committee and the result of my company’s training and support, as well as an encouragement for my future work. In addition, through the competition, I have made friends with many outstanding colleagues in the field in Chengdu. It is a valuable experience.” He said.
For Hu Yu, the achievements in this competition will serve as a new starting point. To Seize the opportunity of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle, Hu Yu and the company he works for have set their sights on the Chengdu market.
“A while ago, we conducted market research in Chengdu and found a high demand in the electric bicycle market. In the future, we will deepen our cooperation with electric bicycle manufacturers in Chengdu and promote product planning and styling design services. I hope the people of Chengdu will like my designs.”
Hu Yu revealed to the reporter that Chongqing Dusse Technology has established a branch in Chengdu, mainly engaged in electric vehicle development. The first “Made in Chengdu” product, DUSSE Y01, has entered mass production and has been well-received in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
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