Tyler Suiters  0:11 

Hey, everybody. With a Consumer Technology Association, I'm Tyler Suiters. We are the owners and producers of CES, the most influential tech event on the planet. We are here to get you CES ready. The show is January 8-11, 2019, in Las Vegas. And today we're talking about one particular portion of the show a relatively new section as well. It's called Design & Source. This is the place for innovators, entrepreneurs and even larger companies to find partners to help you with product design with sourcing with creating product to market strategies all in one location.


And our guests today well, they run the gamut in terms of size and influence. First of all, a global company, you know, Alibaba.com. This is a company with buyers from more than 190 countries and regions around the world, talking about what goes into smart design and smart sourcing. And then we're also talking to an American design expert who's out of New York City, who's discussing exactly the importance of design in tech products, and some about the balanced relationship between designers and engineers. That's all coming up on this edition of CES Tech Talk.


With us now is Allan Chochinov, he is partner at Core77, and we'll talk about exactly what Core77 is in just a moment. Allan is also the Chair of the Masters in Fine Arts program in Products of Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York. A true globetrotter, Alan, glad we could pin you down and find some time to connect today.


Allan Chochinov  1:54 

Thanks, I'm thrilled to be here.


Tyler Suiters  1:56 

As promised Core77, I can give a brief boiler right and that you are a gathering point for designers and design and fuzziness across the across the spectrum of expertise. In your words, though, what purpose and what role does Core77 play for this community?


Allan Chochinov  2:14 

Well, a very long time and trusted role Core77 was actually the very first design website of any kind. Founded by my partners, Stuart Constantine and Eric Ludlum back in 1995, it started out as a master's thesis project and then was incubated at the University of the college where they went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and grew from there. And as the internet exploded and the you know, the appreciation and consciousness around design exploded, the site just got bigger and bigger and bigger. So where it was really a resource and advocacy for design, it now has a design conference and annual Design Awards competition, a job board and portfolio site that are just massive.

So really making design connections between people looking for designers, and designers looking for really creative work. So it's coming up on, you know, 25 years in a couple years, which is remarkable. There aren't a lot of things on the internet that have lasted that long, pretty proud of that.


Tyler Suiters  3:21 

Yeah, or the internet itself. Right?


Allan Chochinov  3:23 

Yeah, it changed a lot.


Tyler Suiters  3:24 

When you look at this a lot, when you look at Core77 scope, Allan, I mean, you you have competitions and lectures, parties exhibits a long list of gathering points touch points for those enthusiasts. Is this a dedicated community that you see the design community, one that's shares a passion that, that that is just inherent, it's not like you stumble your way into it, to some degree, it seems that this is something it's almost inherent in terms of the passion you feel for it.


Allan Chochinov  3:55 

Yeah, it's perfectly put. The other thing is like, designers are typically often optimists. So it's a very forward looking group of people. Designers think that they you know, to put it a little bit slightly, they think that they know better, right, you can come to them with a design challenge. Whether it's to design, you know, a new toothbrush, or a new way of finding your way through a hospital emergency room. And typically, designers will say yes, and typically, they'll come up with something that actually is better.

So it's a it's a bizarre profession, it's kind of like inventor, school or inventor world that you actually get paid for. And it has a repeatable, predictable process, around research around prototyping, around iteration around testing, and ultimately, to manufacturer and then you know, scaling something out and get it in into the real world. But it is a repeatable process, it is very strategic, versus simply aesthetic, and more and more designers coming in, in the earliest framing of any kind of challenge versus you know, at the end, which is like now make it look good, or make it make it desirable.

So it's a, it's a really an amazing time for design. Of course, 77 beating heart is around industrial design, which is a term that, you know, most people actually don't know, but product design, the design of actual things. But certainly design has gotten very much interested in interaction design, in service design, in business design. And all of these things really have to come together for any design project to be to be interesting to be successful in the world. I'm actually at the master's program that I found it now seven years ago, teaches all different kinds of design quite a radically multidisciplinary way.

But I really feel that that's necessary these days, you can't just design a thing, you need to be thinking about social media strategy, you need to be thinking about its business model, you need to be thinking about the sharing economy, what happens


if somebody puts a plan on Instructables com to build something like it seems to be aware of all of these different channels and different modalities for design, right from the get-go.


Tyler Suiters  6:12 

So an interesting point, Alan, because it on one hand, you're pointing, you're painting a picture of designers, and you're saying this lovingly, so when in the first person has as a unique set of characteristics, right? Quirky, unique, talented, strategic. And you can say that, of course across a lot of suites of skill sets.


Allan Chochinov  6:32 



Tyler Suiters  6:32 

Since we're pinning today's conversation on design and source it at CES, that is a congregation point of confluence of certainly designers, but also entrepreneurs and innovators, the inventors, you mentioned tech centric minds who know what a product should do or should be, but need to make it physical, tangible, build it at scale. What do you see when these groups meet each other? I know you've written to some degree about designers and engineers and their interfaces and both for good and for bad.


Allan Chochinov  7:07 

I'm sure. I mean, I think there's often like the stereotype that there are, you know, different cross purposes. Although I think that, you know, that's probably more of a media story than the actual truth. Yeah, designer has to wear lots of hats, we actually have courses in the program around venture capital, with for business courses.

So this this notion of entrepreneurship is, is very real. And the rules around entrepreneurship these days are very bizarre rules. Once venture capital comes into the development of a product, that product is developed in different under different circumstances, there is a there's a runway in terms of how quickly something has to be developed level to use your term of scale that it has to reach, or it just sort of no go.

When we think about interaction design, and the design of apps or platforms or services, things really, really speed up in this way. And that's why you see this incredible startup culture, if we bring it back to actual three dimensional products, industrial design is just so hard. There's just materials and processes and supply chain and labor practices and toxicity and regulatory, you know, something plugs into the wall.

It's, there are rules, if something plugs into a person, my background is actually in medical design, surgical instruments, diagnostic equipment, you know, FDA approval, their years of approval process built into the developed right of a medical device, for instance. And those years take a lot of money, they take a lot of lawyers, they take a lot of policy people. And so everything is just incredibly complex, when you think about actually putting an object into the world. I think interaction design, in some ways, is a little less scary graphic design, maybe less scary still.

But really, I in some sense, as I said before, all design is all design, you need to think about it all at the same time. To be able to frame the problem strategically and as narrowly as possible in the beginning is really the key to having a successful, you know, a chance of success here.


Tyler Suiters  9:20 

Well, that's interesting, Allan, because it in one sense, it seems a bit at odds with seemingly the mantra of the design program there at SVA, which is, in short, I'm paraphrasing, we want to get messy right away. Now, I know there's a much more nuanced message in there. But could you draw that out a little bit in terms of what that approach means to you as a strategy to for teaching designers and then applying that strategy in the work field?


Allan Chochinov  9:48 

Oh, such a good question. Yeah, actually, seven years ago, I made a poster and put it up in the classroom, and it's still in the same spot. And it says no prototype, no meeting.


If you have a meeting, and this is this is not just for designers, this is friendly for anybody, if you're going to have a meeting, the price to walk into that meeting is to bring something to the meeting, a piece of research maybe that you don't agree with a prototype in the form of a sketch or a paragraph that you've written out, maybe like a sort of a press release from the future, what do you want the project you're working on to, you know, to sound like, I mean, really, even a list of things you don't want to do, rather than nothing. And so what I say to the students and the faculty is, if you're in a meeting and the agenda of the meeting is what should we do, then walk out of that meeting, it's like the price to enter it is actually bring something to the meeting.


And this really kicks off this notion of prototyping, you know, early and often something that the esteem design from IDO, talks about popular rises all the time. And it's really the best advice at all, making something in any way real versus talking about something, it's just so much better. It allows you to put something in some bit in front of somebody's face, you know, interaction designers will do a lot of paper prototyping luxury design apps on post it notes and flip through them on paper. And you can get a lot of user feedback when you show somebody because everybody understands what a screen essentially is. And they understand that they click on things and that they might be buttons or words, icons, in the in the form of a physical prototype, you can put something in somebody's hands, and maybe they like the way it feels, and they like the way it looks. And they put it down on the table upside down you like that that's upside down, they're like, well, I don't know that that's what this form tells me how to put it down.

So you can really learn anything with a prototype, where you can learn almost nothing by just sort of talking about stuff. So this is this is honestly like useful for anybody in any business. I actually finally wrote an article about this no prototype, no meeting, recently published it. And the idea here is the would actually change the word meeting, to the word review, arguing that if you went to something, let's say that you had a review at three o'clock today, you look pretty silly, arriving empty handed to something called a review, it's in the word right? Right as a meeting. So I actually changed, I download an auto correct for my browser, and for my iOS. So I literally couldn't type the word meeting for seven months. I changed it to the word review, right?


Tyler Suiters  12:33 

Rather self-torture, yes.


Allan Chochinov  12:34 

When you type the word review, your Windows computer fixes it. So you start to think well, hold on, well, why am I actually calling a meeting?


Tyler Suiters  12:42 

Allan narrowing this down a little bit to the technology sector specifically? What are your overarching thoughts about the needs the most important elements of design when you're dealing with technology products?


Allan Chochinov  12:57 

Also such a great question, quick answer to that, which is that everything has to be considered as a platform. There's nothing really that's just an app anymore. Even if it is an app, there's a dashboard somewhere where people are looking at the results or taking action on the aggregate of what's happening, the behaviors on that app.

There's often a desktop client, there may be an Internet of Things, an IoT object may be coated in Arduino, that's actually a smart object in your home in your office, that's also reacting to data sets of information that might be input through sensors or through people using an app or if they're, you know, running or jogging. So we think about everything as a platform, and that we also think about inputs and outputs. That what does somebody do and what is the result of that action?


Tyler Suiters  13:56 

Allen, final question for you. So what is your very brief guidance for the innovators, the entrepreneurs who are coming to CES and looking for designs, and sourcing that, that next critical element to get their products, their ideas, their dreams? into market, when you're talking about how you design something?


Allan Chochinov  14:17 

Two things, never give up, is also good advice for everybody.


Tyler Suiters  14:22 



Allan Chochinov  14:23 

And, and stop talking. So if you pitch an idea to somebody and they say, Well, you know, that can't be done. Don't talk. Don't argue with them. If you just stay silent, they'll say, well, I mean, you just can't do that because, you know, well, actually, well, hold on. Wait, oh wait. Oh, I have exactly Oh, I know exactly how we can do this. And you're like how we can do this, right? And all the sudden it's their project too. Engineers, designers, tech people, they love a challenge. And so part of a designer's job is to push things right is to come up with things that might be impossible but might be possible. And so immediately, you're really in the human being relationship business. You're not talking about technology at all. It's really important to you know, listen and talk less than you listen.


Tyler Suiters  15:18 

Yeah, I think that's excellent. And it's something that innovators I think embody throughout the process. To say that Allan Chochinov enough exudes passion for design is a bit of an understatement.


Allan Chochinov  15:30 

I'm pretty excited about this. It was really thrilling to talk to you about this.


Tyler Suiters  15:35 

Allan is partner at Core77 and chair of the Masters in Fine Arts and products of design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Allan, a real pleasure to have you with us and reminder open invitation to come see us in Las Vegas at CES.


Allan Chochinov  15:49 

Absolutely, it's been too long. We'll see you there.


Tyler Suiters  15:56 

Joining us now is the General Manager of Alibaba.com, Kuo Zhang. And Kuo, the Alibaba name is so well known globally, and you're heading into your 20th year since launching, how is Alibaba.com evolved in the b2b space specifically, since all the way back in 1999?


Kuo Zhang  16:15 

Thank you for asking question. We are excited about our upcoming 20th anniversary this year, so also is already past 20 years, our mission remains the same. And we want to say more specifically, at this time to make it easy to do business anywhere in this digital era. So we would like to digital lies are racing to make this global trading more easily. So how to say that. So we can see through this 20 years, magazines changed. First, our supplier started from zero to our 170,000 is not only from China, but it's also from another 100 countries. So a lot of suppliers is a global cell global by business. The second part is that we are now transform our business from sourcing to trading.

So 90 years ago, actually alibaba.com is a listing platform for suppliers to list their our product and to online sourcing. And now we are saying we are from sourcing to trading is we want to digitalize the entire customer journey. So meaning customers, the suppliers and sellers should only focus on their business. And we can manage the rest including our  translation for communication, for logistics, for custom colors, for the foreign exchange, and you can name it. So our mission stay the same. But we want to digitize everything so we can make our business simple and easy. Thank you.


Tyler Suiters  18:00 

Your company's mission is awfully succinct and quoting now make it easy to do business anywhere. So how does Alibaba.com find efficiencies in partnerships and, and the reach to leverage that global marketplace?


Kuo Zhang  18:14 

We define ourselves as a platform to enable our customers to do business online. So to do all the transactions, actually, we partner with a lot of FinTech companies, banking systems. We do transportation, as we work with a lot of logistics companies wonders, to let our suppliers meet with buyers. Actually, we partner with CES as well. We bring a lot of customers, suppliers with us together all over the world to CES and to demonstrate their cutting-edge technology to the world. We also partner with CES to digitalize all this content.

So for the buyers who cannot participate can reach them online. And we can let more people to understand and to see the power of this technology demonstrated in CES, I think we have a lot of partners to work together.


Tyler Suiters  19:14 

Alright, cool. I'd like to quote you, if I may, you have said quoting here, we are focused on what we call global by global cell, we want to see trade between all countries and quote. So what's the current state of play there?


Kuo Zhang  19:30 

Our founder, Jack Ma introduced the idea of an electronic world trade platform, ETTP,  to share the benefits of globalization with SMEs worldwide, the ETTP refers to technology, trade, travel and training. So our platform alibaba.com focusing to make the trade easy everywhere in this world. So in the last 20 years, actually, we already in the both suppliers and buyers from over 190 countries. And each year I feed 10s of thousand buyers is buying and the sourcing stop from one over 170,000 suppliers are perform daily basis.

So we should say we already made some progress in this global cell globe by strategy. And we still have a long way to go. This year, we established our New York team in U.S., especially to help our buyers and U.S. and also enable the sellers in us to sell over the world. And also we are very proactively to search for partners to work together or how SMEs all over the world to do business easy. U.S. and all over the world.


Tyler Suiters  20:53 

All right. alibaba.com talents, its flexibility, right, including sourcing from your mobile phone. And just this past June, you said that 54% of your web traffic was mobile, and that 40% of your buyers used a mobile phone. So at alibaba.com where do you see this trend going?


Kuo Zhang  21:13 

The mobile users are continuing to grow. So as you said, no more than half of the buyers is using mobile phone to do their daily work. You can see a lot of professional buyers are still using PC in the daily life. But also they are using mobile as an omni channel approach. We providing multiple applications, like real time translation is not only in text message, now we're providing real time translation in video conference. You can check it out in CES stage. And also, we can see that trading is enabling by mobile as well. A lot of buyers now paying the suppliers through mobile. And also we see there's a lot of new things coming out like all this 360 degrees of views. And buyers actually are checking out our suppliers, factories, suppliers manufacturer process and the logistics through mobile as well.


Tyler Suiters  22:18 

All right at CES design and source connects brands to buyers, the show offers design, sourcing, packaging companies from all across the globe. So what are you specifically looking for there? Is it connections? Is it synergy?  Is it something else?


Kuo Zhang  22:33 

Last year I and the chairman of CTA Gary Shapiro, we have a great for meeting together to discuss this opportunity, how we can synergy together. So from last year, we can see many opportunities. The first of all, we are happy to introduce a lot of our customers to CES to enable them and to meet more buyers and see more technologists. And most importantly, we would like to digitalize our this CES content, shows and technologies online. So all these companies who is supported by alibaba.com, and the CES, committed millions of buyers online, what we see is that from last year in CES design sourcing showcase, so how the suppliers in this showcase, actually, their online traffic grows 10 times compare with their average time. So because of the brand of CES, and also because we digitalize all of their content online, so that can attract more potential buyers online. So I think it's a win-win for both parties. And it's kind of a great victory for online and offline combined together.


Tyler Suiters  23:49 

All right outside of the design and source scope, what are you looking for at CES 2019 anything specific in terms of a vertical or a platform technology that you envision supporting your company's global strategy?


Kuo Zhang  24:03 

Consumer Electronics is a very important category for us. And the CES actually sets the tone for the new and emerging technology trends. So we are excited to participate in CES. In addition to the design the sauce showcase alibaba.com as a technology company, we are demonstrating a lot of the new technologies in the central hall as well. You can meet us there to see how we incorporated AI, virtual reality and the blockchain in data usage and how we allow this all this new technology to redefine and transform global trade for millions of global SMEs.


Tyler Suiters  24:48 

Kuo Zhang is General Manager at alibaba. com. Kuo, thank you so much for your time, and we'll see you at CES.


Kuo Zhang  24:55 

Thank you. See you there.


Tyler Suiters  24:48 

All right, next time on CES TechTalk, we are talking all things CES. I don't know how to say it any more plainly than that. Our guests will be experts on the world's biggest most influential tech event. Both the CTA leaders who put together the show and know the ins and outs of the innovations and the exhibitors who will be on hand and also one exhibiting company that has been with CES since day 1, 50 years later.

Unknown Speaker  25:26  

Panasonic has really transformed. We are for 100 years Panasonic has developed new technologies for one simple reason to move toward a better life and a better world.

Tyler Suiters  25:40 

And of course, we are here to help you be CES ready. So download the CES app, you can build your personal agenda, find your favorite exhibitors and speakers, and also sync in real time across your devices. And new this year, you can connect to your LinkedIn accounts and see which connections of yours are also at CES.

The big show is January 8-11 in Las Vegas. The information you need is at CES.tech. As always, none of this is remotely possible without our true stars: our producer Tina Anthony, and our engineer John Lindsey. You all are the best. I'm Tyler Suiters. We're glad you're with us. Let's talk tech again soon.