Central Saint Martins (MA Communication Design 2007)
Co-Founder of Taiwan design firm By Associates
After graduating from CSM, Keira worked as a Designer for Corporate Vision Strategists. She then spent over three years as a Designer at graphic design firm Thomas Manss & Company, during which time she received a 2010 Red Dot Award in Communication Design. Following a brief period working as a freelance designer, Keira returned to her native Taiwan in 2012 and co-founded By Associates with German designer Felix von Bomhard. The company specialises in visual identity, print design, editorial design, web design, signage and packaging.
What made you come to London to study and Central Saint Martins (CSM)?
The richness of the history of London and of its design. I also wanted to learn the basics of design. For example, typography and font design are not really taught in Asia, it is just too painstaking to design thousands of characters. CSM’s reputation was another reason.
What is your fondest memory of your time at CSM?
Interaction with classmates and the discussions with the tutors.
What was the most important thing CSM taught you?
Endless creation, how to present your work and visually communicate with your friends from different cultural backgrounds.
What advice would you give anyone wanting to come from Taiwan to study at UAL?
Be brave and show what you are capable of.
What happened after graduation?
Got hired at the graduation show and then kept on working at various design studios like Graphic thought facility and Thomas Manss & Company among others. Kept living and working in London for six years. That’s when I met my husband to be and moved back to Taiwan to set up my own firm.
What did you love about living and working in London?
The competitiveness. I enjoyed working with people from everywhere.
You and your husband Felix have set up your own design agency in Taipei. Tell us about By Associates
Our speciality is brand and editorial design, with an emphasis on printed matter. Since arriving in Taipei we have diversified quite a bit and are doing more and more packaging or way finding design. I think we have opened our studio at just the right time. There seems to be a generational shift in a lot of Taiwanese established companies, which are preparing to hand their companies over to their sons and daughters (Taiwan has a lot of family owned companies). This offspring has often similar background to ours, they have studied abroad and are well versed in how brands work in Europe or the US and they see the need for a solid brand identity. It is a good time to be a designer in Taiwan, there are still lots of things to be done!
You’ve worked on some really varied projects for a variety of different companies including ice-cream makers, chocolatiers, museums, restaurants and property companies (to name but a few!). What have been your top three projects?
Yu Chocolatier, Chimei Museum and the Foster Monographs which I designed when still at Thomas Manss & Co.
What are your top tips for anyone wanting to set up their own design business?
Learn and practice how to communicate with clients and vendors.
What has been your proudest moment?
When I met someone for the first time and they said they had already heard about our office.
What are your favourite things to do in Taipei?
Wander around one of the city’s countless markets or head to the surrounding mountains for a hike.
What’s next for you and Felix?
Becoming parents and to find a way to integrate the newcomer into our studio life.