Service Related Businesses in China

In order to have good service related businesses, you must have more polite and nice people in the society. After decades of prosperous economy development driven by mostly manufacturing in China is slowing down, China is trying to promote service related businesses at home such as senior caring facilities, hotel and restaurants…etc. You might think China will have no problem to make this smooth transition since the economy development in last few decades in China was extremely fast. Well, I will say it will take China much longer time to have top notched service related businesses in all spectra, and the very reason is because of China’s super fast economy development.

The extremely fast economy development in China has elevated many people to middle class, millionaire or billionaire status, but it failed to elevate most people’s sense of responsibility, integrity or etiquette in the same time. In contrary, the fast boomed economy made people become greedy money chasers, they became very selfish, rude, and hostile to others. Everyone became everyone else’ competitors, For being successful, stepping on other people’s backs in order to climb to the top becomes necessary. People lost the compassion towards others because they were not considered as human anymore but competitors, and if they are my competitors, why should I treat them nicely? Having that in mind, you won’t be surprised to see people often arguing on the streets, pushing people hard and fighting for seats on subway trains, or cutting in lines in China, and you will also be shocked to hear people say thank you or excuse me over there.

Therefore, when you go into the stores to ask the clerks directions or any other questions without buying anything, the only answer you will get is “I do not know.” No extra assistance or advice. It will make you feel those clerks are so unhelpful or unfriendly and you just do not feel like going back to the store as customers in the future. While visiting restaurants in China, most greetings sound very superficial and machine-like. The waiters will sit you down and disappear, you usually need to yell at the waiters and tell them you are ready to place orders. Otherwise, you will sit there forever and no one will come to you to take orders. I even encountered waiters who ignored me on purpose when I waved and asked them to come to take my order in many occasions, and if you keep yelling loudly, then you will see the waiters coming to you with very stinky faces.

On the end, you can give those waiters, waitresses or clerks any training you want, if they are not nice people naturally, they will always treat their customers with fake smiles, machine-like greetings, ignorance, or big attitudes. You can build infrastructures in few months but you won’t be able to make people friendly or nice in just one generation. Having top notched service related businesses in China? well, wait for another 20 years.

How does culture difference influence interior design?

The culture difference affects interior designers’ ways of design and the entire design company culture. When I heard the clients in the US told me I have seen this very same light fixtures at the XXX hotels or the same chairs at XXX restaurants, my reflex would tell me: “damn, I will need to find another light fixtures or furniture!” and it happened to be always the case. The clients in the US usually do not like to have the designs in their home or spaces that have been used by someone else, they prefer to have something unique to them and no one else has. This culture of being different in the US directly affects the design company culture in the US.

All of the interior design companies I had worked at in the US encouraged innovation. Design something out of nothing is so essential for surviving in the interior design companies in the US. The design hobbies such as copying or tweaking are often not encouraged, and are prohibited strictly at some companies. In contrary, design companies in China encourage tweaking and copying existing designs. Chinese interior designers always looked for reference photos on the internet and design magazines in order to tweak or copy other people’s designs.

Unlike American clients who do not like to have the designs other people also have, Chinese clients want to have the designs other people have. This behavioral trend can also be easily spotted on fashion. Americans dress to be unique; Chinese dress to blend in. So, if you have the opportunity to work in China, remember, you will need to learn how to copy or tweak other designers’ designs in order to thrive. Being creative or innovative is just not Chinese clients’ cup of tea.

Will China’s Economy Reform Fail?

When China’s GDP growth downed from double digits to 7 something percent last year, it signaled China’s economy is slowing down. Increasing labor cost and tightened regulations slowly expelled the labor intense industry out of China. Similar to what happened in Taiwan in the late 90’s and throughout 00′, China needs to transform its labor intense industry to high-tech industry. Unfortunately, Taiwan failed the transformation, and is suffering the consequences, low job growth and stalled salary. Will China follow Taiwan’s step and fail the challenge? Very likely.

As an interior designer, my job can not be classified as high-tech, but it is not hard to predict why China will fail the economy reform to transform its economy by observing how the interior designers operate in China. When interior designers start to work on a new project and prepare for client presentation, unlike what we do in the States,  we research the available materials and start to sketch out the ideas, Chinese interior designers look for project photos on the design magazines or websites, and then copy with minor tweaking the designs from the photos they found. Why do they do that?! Isn’t it violating the copy rights and professional ethics, or at least personal integrity? No, not to Chinese designers. In fact, they are encouraged to copy others’ design ideas, why? well, because the clients in China love to rush. If you think some clients in the US like to rush to get things done, the clients in China are 1000 times worse. If a project needs 1 year to complete in the States, it will be completed in China in 3 months. Super fast work flow forces Chinese designers to work overtime constantly, under the pressure, it becomes luxury for designers to have time to be creative and think about the ideas of their own. Long working hours also impairs the designers’ ability to innovate. Therefore, most of interior design ideas in China are copied.

Ok, no big deals, right? just copy an interior design idea! so?! people still make money! Well, Chinese high-tech workers work the same way! cell phone companies, automobile companies, computer companies, website companies, and defense insdustry….These high tech companies copied whatever from foreign companies without creating their own indigenous high technology, so they will always lead from behind.

When the US built the stealth fighter jets like F-22 and F-35, China followed and also built J-20 stealth fighter jets with lots of “borrowed” technology and designs. Many of you might think “see! China is strong and advanced! They can also build stealth fighter jets!” but for me , the real strong country is the one that came up with the idea – “stealth” at the first place. Now, the United States is the only country in the world has operational stealth fighter jets in service and maintains the air superiority. Innovation makes the United States lead.

So, if Chinese clients do not change the way that they want everything done by yesterday, excessive over-time working will keep impairing Chinese workers’ innovation and creativity, and China’s economy reform will be doomed to fail.

Full Of It!

I have heard a lot of Chinese designers said they are the best in the world. Well, if you are so great as you said, how come the reference photos or the mood imageries you put on your project presentation PPTs are the projects mostly done by American or European designers? and how come we do not use Chinese designers’ project photos as our mood imageries for project presentations in the US? So, if you say Chinese designers are good at working long hours and fast pace, I agree, but if you say Chinese designers are creative or innovative, I totally disagree.