NIU Perspectives: Designing the future of urban mobility

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NIU Perspectives is a series that explores behind-the-scenes at NIU through the eyes of our staff.

Michael joined NIU in October 2014 as an Industrial Designer and has held multiple positions at the company. We discussed his long history with the company, how product design can redefine urban mobility, and how he fuels his creativity.

MICHAEL SCULPTS A CLAY MODEL DESIGN OF A NIU SCOOTER

MICHAEL SCULPTS A CLAY MODEL DESIGN OF A NIU SCOOTER

 

Please introduce yourself to our audience.

I’m Michael! Nice to meet you all! I joined the Research and Development Team at NIU as an Industrial Designer over 7 years ago. I have had different roles within the company, and right now I work as a Designer on the Branding team.

In school, I studied Industrial Design in the US for three years and wrote my Master’s thesis on a bike sharing service that would provide a convenient commute option for users. I spent that time traveling to different cities to figure out what transportation problems needed solving at that time, which really sparked my interest in urban mobility overall.

In my first role at NIU, I collaborated with other designers to create some of our company’s first products. I have also had other positions working on graphic design, marketing, branding, as well as retail store and expo booth design.

 

How did you discover NIU?

I am from Taiwan, which has a really high density of scooters per capita. Scooters are really a part of the everyday culture, and every college boy needs a scooter to get a girlfriend. So of course I had one as a student as well.

I really enjoy the freedom of riding a scooter. You can feel the breeze and experience the natural environment more closely when compared to other types of transportation. Before I left to study in the US, I rode around Taiwan for a week on my scooter to say goodbye to friends and family.

It makes sense that I eventually found my way to NIU. I was working for a design studio at the time, and was introduced to one of the co-founders of NIU. I am very passionate about design and also love scooters and motorcycles, and NIU merged both of those things together in a beautiful way. It was fate!

 

MICHAEL HELPED TO DESIGN NIU’S BOOTH AT EICMA 2017

MICHAEL HELPED TO DESIGN NIU’S BOOTH AT EICMA 2017

What is your favorite part about working at NIU?

Originally, I was recruited to help NIU design some of our first products. It was an exciting time because the whole team was new and we were all very passionate about designing awesome vehicles. I have the chance to learn and create at the same time, and I really appreciate that about my whole experience at NIU.

I loved watching NIU grow from such a small group (just 20 people) to a large organization, and it continues to develop and draw really talented people at all levels. I think the company has so much potential to make life better and improve our world.

 

I have the chance to learn and create at the same time, and I really appreciate that about my whole experience at NIU. I loved watching NIU grow from such a small group (just 20 people) to a large organization.

 

What was the most exciting product you worked on at NIU?

The N1 (now known as the NQi Sport) was such an outstanding product to work on. You could really sense the energy and excitement in the air when we were nearing the release of that product, because it came from months of hard work and creativity from all these different people at NIU.

We approached the N1 more like a tech product than a traditional vehicle, which made it feel so unique compared to a lot of other scooters. We wanted to re-think everything about scooters from the ground up, instead of re-hashing the same scooters that already existed with a “different wrapping”.

When it finally launched as our first product, you could feel a tangible joy in the office. It was finally happening, and it was a success!

 

How do you recharge your personal battery?

I really enjoy watching movies in my spare time. Even movies that I’ve seen a hundred times can still provide entertainment again and again for me. I think movies are a great way to escape and forget about normal life for a short time. My favorite is Interstellar. Christopher Nolan covers such a unique topic but also focuses on love and human connection.

Also, exercising and sports are an important part of my life. I really think they bring me clarity and focus. I enjoy playing basketball, hiking, and weightlifting for the most part.

 

MICHAEL EXPLORING MACCHU PICCHU; HE LOVES TRAVELING AND EXPERIENCING NEW PLACES

MICHAEL EXPLORING MACCHU PICCHU; HE LOVES TRAVELING AND EXPERIENCING NEW PLACES

 

How do you #MakeLifeElectric?

I am always learning and trying to develop my skills. My personal motto is “stay inspired”, and I use that to drive how I approach everyday life: finding inspiration around me and fueling my own creativity.

When it comes to a challenge or a new experience, I don’t often tell myself “no”.  I #MakeLifeElectric through constant curiosity and growth.

 

My personal motto is “stay inspired”, and I use that to drive how I approach everyday life.

 

Rapid-fire questions

Favorite NIU model? NQi Sport. I have such a deep connection to that product’s history.

Your scooter’s name? Scarlet.

Go-to comfort food? Burgers, for sure. They’re fulfilling and juicy. I’m getting hungry thinking about it.

Favorite genre of music? Pop music.

Top travel destination? I really love Peru. Macchu Picchu is a magical place. It was on my Bucket List and I still think about it today.

Perfect Sunday? The perfect Sunday starts by having brunch with my wife. Then go to the gym in the afternoon. Follow that up with a good movie and some social time with friends. Then go to bed early.

 

That concludes our third NIU Perspectives interview.

But we’re not done yet! Stay tuned here for future staff insights at NIU!

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