With the simplest aspiration, Jia Wei set up RKK in 2004 in the hope that design will live on with endless originality; with the most complex ambition, Jia created a design-sharing platform LKKER in 2016 in the hope of making designs global. Sometimes he abides by the rules like a manager, but sometimes breaks the rules like an artist. He is never confined by conventions, always longs for reform and subversion, and salutes to unstrained imagination in the era of artificial intelligence.
In Jia Wei’s design kingdom, the economy of imagination has already arrived. A novel idea can trigger numerous junctions, forming a complete sharing ecosystem. Everyone can be a designer and outline the landscape of our future on the canvas of the world.
But outside his kingdom, doubts about him have never diminished. Is he a gifted designer with rare endowments, or a money-orientated master in the commercial world? Is he a pioneer of firm faith, or merely an opportunist?
Masayuki Kurokawa, a prestigious Japanese designer, once said that designers should devote themselves to their work without any distraction. Only when designers feel their own vitality and refrain from following the trends blindly can they touch consumers.There seems to be an irreversible paradox between design and commercialization. But Jia Wei is the first person to be called a commercialized designer with both business acumen and design talent. Is it a praise or sarcasm?
People have their own take on Hamlet. What is your take on Jia Wei?
The tycoon invited by iAsk this time is Jia Wei, chairman of the board of LKK Innovation Design and founder of LKKER design sharing platform. Gloria Ai, founder of iAsk will have a dialogue with Jia Weito explore his definition of design and himself and to ask how he will make his next self-subversion in the context of AI frenzy?
Reform: a Cognitive Subversion?
Gloria Ai: You only have a few friends to start with at the beginning, but now have more than 10 thousand designers on your platform. And you are planning to have 10 million designers in the next decade. So are you a designer, a businessman or an entrepreneur?
Jia Wei: I think I have three identities. First I am a designer manager, because I am managing a thousand designers offline and about 40 to 50 thousand designers online. Second I am an entrepreneur with design as my core competitive edge. Some people start businesses with technology, some with capital and others with business model. My partners and I use the concepts of design to create different business models. Third I am a designer. I have my own brand and designs. I have discussion with designers every day on how to make our designs better.
Gloria Ai: Running such a big platform could be a great challenge. What is your challenge at present?
Jia Wei: I did not encounter any particular difficulties at the first 12 years. But since I started the LKKER platform, I suddenly found that I haven’t changed from the mentality of an offline manager to an online one. Apart from designers, we have users. We plan to have10 million designers and supply chains. LKKER is actually a multilateral platform. In the past I only need to manage designers, but now the users. We are inviting supply chains and various channels. The greatest challenge is to reconstruct my thinking model. I have to destroy LKK, and see it as a representative of traditional offline design company. In essence, it’s all about subverting the mentality and destroying the old me of the past 12 years. Actually subverting yourself is the most difficult part.
Gloria Ai: We have studied a lot of platform companies. For example, Cheng Wei, founder of Didi Chuxing was not a driver. iAsk has also invested in a cloud photo sharing platform Vphoto. Its founder used to be an accountant. Once you dived into this industry, will you definitely destroy yourself?
Jia Wei: When you destroy yourself, you are protecting yourself. I think the Internet has gone through three phases:
the first is called the consumption of the Internet. It was all about connecting the Internet. Entrepreneurs in this industry were tech engineers who could make such connections.
The second is called Internet Plus. In most cases it referred to Internet operation with technologies. That is to integrate the mentality of the Internet with different industries. Operators should have strong operational logic. Internet was combined with offline retailing, medical care and entertainment.
But the third phase is industry plus Internet, which is more profound than Internet Plus. You should have a solid industrial background and formulate a sharp understanding of its core competitive edges. Then you need the Internet mentality and the advancement of technologies. We know very clear that we are doing Internet Plus.
Designhas no boundaries?
Gloria Ai: When an enterprise develops to a certain stage, you don’t choose what to work more on, but what not to work on. That’s what we call the boundaries. I have been trying to find your definition of LKK and LKKER and who Jia Wei is. Now you are leading a thousand designers. Have you drawn the line between design and the rest of the world?
Jia Wei: Design is an industry that creates boundaries. It is a logic that is constantly creating new species, new services, and new business possibilities. So the core of the design lies in whether you can create more possibilities. Relatively speaking, it has no boundaries. And the word “design” is a new business language that connects science, technologies and capitals. The language itself has no absolute boundary.
Gloria Ai: It is said that you and LKK have participated in 80% of robotics projects in China. Are you replacing yourself or fighting for the whole humanity against robots?
Jia Wei: I have thought about this question. Artificial intelligence will first replace manual labor, and then intellectuals, such as doctors, lawyers, and hosts. And lastly the creators. But I believe AI will subvert creators. I learned about Three Waves along the lake of Alibaba.
The first wave is the traditional enterprises with no Internetlogic. I think LKK at early stage belongs to this group; the second wave is to build platforms according to the logic of the Internet. Today’s LKK can be categorized into this group; and the three wave is to use the logic of AI and pure intelligent mode.
We are also discussing the possibility of generating new AI logic on LKKER platform. But now we still can’t do it. We can take our time. Currently, 99.99% companies belong to the first wave, and only 0.1% companies that run platforms make up the second wave. Companies of the third wave have just emerged. Whether a company can constantly subvert itself lies in whether you have vision forthe future and a sense of urgency for the present.