A real Chinese experience, the boss is Chinese and the 95% of the people are Chinese. S.Point is the biggest design consultancy in SH with more or less 80 employees, they started as a design studio 20 years ago and in these last 3 years they turned into a design consulting, so it’s a quite new environment. The company is still in a transition phase, that’s why things evolve continuously. S.Point aims to become as IDEO, Frog etc. but being Chinese. Its need time of course, but S.Point has the potentiality to do it. They are big, Chinese and with many contacts.
The company is strongly divided by strategists and designers. So, strategists are on the 4th floor; product, service and graphic designers are all together on the 3rd floor and on the second floor. Here there are also S.Lab, managed by Jin laoshi from IDEO, which train Chinese companies to apply design thinking methods; and Acetino, a beauty brand that has the headquarters in S.Point. The strength point is that S.Point follows every step of one project, from the research to the testing and prototyping, so the designers have the possibilities to see the project realised. The strategist unit is completely Chinese, and for this reason, they can really do research understanding the market. Then the design department can develop concepts and the final output. This unit is a bit small than the strategist unit, but the boss is pushing on it to become more international and to collaborate more with the strategist and S.Lab.
The situation now is interesting because, as I said before, S.Point is still in this transition phase, so sometimes there are some changes in the structure and in the way of working of the company. I personally worked in the design department with the “Integrated innovation team”, we are Italian, Russian, French and Chinese people. I arrived 4 months ago when the team was composed only by 4 people, some people left, some people arrived so now we are 8. We are dealing with different kind of projects, from redesign packaging to the rethinking of the experience of Yu Garden. Lots of projects arrived more or less every week, from Chinese clients but also from International ones.
S.Point do not really have a structure and are not following specific design methods, understandable among over 80 people. But at the same time is difficult to work without short and precise tasks. As long as you are in a small team you can deal with it but if the project involves all the company the situation became a bit messy. For example, when we work in our team we always follow our design methods and it works well. Anyway, I can say I’m satisfied with this internship, the whole experience was good and useful to understand how the things work in China.
As service design just appeared in China, don’t aspect a real service design experience but part of your project will be totally linked with the design process you studied. Remember that this doesn’t happen just in S.Point, but more or less in each company in SH.
General feeling: Up and Down roller coaster
Do I suggest this experience? Yes
Will you have a mentor/tutor? Not really
Salary: from 1500 Yuan, Chinese companies always bargain:)
This was my experience. Mariano Viti now is working as a Product designer and Marta Fontana as a Service Designer. You can also contact them to have more information.