Travel and taking something home

When I visit a new country I like to like to learn about the people and culture. I walk the streets, visit the supermarkets eat the local food.

I like to take one thing from each place and incorporate it into my life as a way of learning and as a way of making my life better.

Last week I was in Japan, the week before China.


China is a place of real contrast, mostly with itself. A closed government and an open way of life, certainly in the major cities like Shanghai.

I met up with an old university friend. We met 10 years ago studying UX and now both of us work in the field.

He set up and is running one of China’s most respected UX design agencies. Tang and cxpartners have a long history of working together.

He, like me, got married recently. We shared stories of the times we had both visited Thailand, complained about our shared frustrations with iO7, drank beer and compared our wedding days.

We may see life in China as being somehow repressed by the government. Certainly both Facebook and Twitter are blocked. But little else is. I can’t access Pirate Bay in UK. Both our governments have the ability to spy on our every internet move.

In spending time with my old friend I realised out lives were far more alike than they were different. The same hopes, dreams and challenges separated by 5,996 miles.

The one thing that will stick with me from China, how more alike we are than we are different.


I spent many of the years in my 20s working with Japanese students studying in the UK. I worked with Japanese business and even studied Japanese for a while. I love Japanese culture the Japanese design aesthetic.

This was my first visit to Japan. The Japanese people are so wonderfully polite and happy. The respect they have for everyone around them is a joy to be part of. The thing that struck me the most was how much more fun it was than I thought it would be.

What I loved the most was that every aspect of their life has a little element of play expressed through design.
Where we in the UK might place a boring notice saying ‘The management take no responsibility for items stolen on the premisses’. In Japan they’ll create a comic to show the problem.


There is no need to formal when you can be fun.

The one thing I’ll take from Japan is to make my designs as playful and fun as I possibly can. After all a message is so much more impactful if there is emotion attached.

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