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Wolff Olins and Path have brought a dose of Chinese medicine to London retailing with Sen, while CTM Design is piloting an interiors concept for a Chinese airliner (News, DW 14 November). How should design ensure that ‘East meets West’ is more than a simply, tired, old cliché of ‘yin and yang’?

‘Simply using the concept of “yin and yang” is a bit of a cliché – reminiscent of bad fusion food. The key to success is to use design to draw out and creatively express the relevant Eastern and Western values. Your target audiences’ needs and trigger points should help you determine which values will work best.’

Hin-Yan Wong, Strategy consultant, Rufus Leonard

‘When I first opened Yo! Sushi on London’s Poland Street the PR company wanted to headline “East meets West” and I said no, no, no, let’s do the “World’s Largest Conveyor Belt Sushi Bar” in the days when nobody had ever heard of them. Modern Japan is what I call the last great secret of the Orient, mainly because so few people have ever been there. In Yo! Sushi we never did Katakana (Japanese heirographics) or Kimonos, but with Yo! Japan, the clothing range launching in January, we’re using motifs from ancient Japan though to modern Manga. And Yotel! takes the notion of capsule hotels, but completely revamps it. I am even looking at Yo! Travel to take people to Japan to experience the food and nightlife and Onsens (bathing spas) from a Japanese perspective and at much cheaper prices than the western hotels there. I love Japan and it is an influence and inspiration, but that is all and we’ll still do things the Yo! way.’

Simon Woodroffe, Founder, Yo! Sushi

‘Bringing together different cultures requires empathy and style: there’s no magic formula. The core experience must be authentic: in Sen’s case, that its traditional treatments actually work. Yin and Yang is about balance, ditto a design that seeks to blend East and West. As for the so-called “Chinese airliner”, this Shanghai-based consortium isn’t designing a “Chinese” aircraft any more than Boeing designs “American” ones.’

Mark Lee, Director, Watermark

‘The commercial application of motifs from Asian culture is always superficial if the designer seeks to provide nothing more meaningful than a “look”. It may be appropriate to look East for inspiration when designing an apothecary, but I’m not sure I would want to fly Ming Dynasty Airlines: who needs economy class Feng Shui?’

Alan Yau, Founder, Wagamama and Hakkasan

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