Rising Stars

At this spring's Maison&Objet Asia, six young designers were recognised for their budding talent and growing contribution to an Asian design scene. In Issue 5, we featured excerpts taken from interviews with these young designers and are please to bring you the full, unabridged content of those interviews below.

ABIE ABDILLAH OF STUDIO HIJI, INDONESIA

Can you briefly describe your work?

I was trained as an industrial designer back when I was studying at  Institut Teknologi Bandung. I mainly focus on furniture design, working primarily with responsibly sourced material that is commonly found in Indonesia; I especially like to work with rattan material.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

I hope that people can experience the true nature of rattan as an interesting material and to feel the craftsmanship in my creation, which cherishes our strong heritage as a craft nation.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

It was when I was still a student at the university. I realised that there was an opportunity to take my profession in a direction for a good cause and that I could make something worthwhile for my surroundings.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

First of all, I am grateful to be Indonesian. We are blessed with an abundance of natural material, not to mention the handiwork of craftsmen.I found rattan interesting because more than 80% of global supply comes from Indonesia, yet for decades I have barely seen any improvement on design and development with the material. Trained as an industrial designer at Institut Teknologi Bandung, I saw this as an opportunity to be able to bring a contemporary look to a materials considered classic and traditional.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

It varies from fond childhood memories to certain craftsman skills that I see to even the technique of production. I am inspired by my surroundings. Everything I see has the potential to inspire me and could be the start of a new creation, from nature to the everyday things that I might find.

Mostly I am inspired by the true natural character of the materials that I use. I use rattan the most, so the pliable, lightweight yet strong character is often a source of inspiration to create something.

Can you name your top three influences?

Yuzuru Yamakawa, Imam Buchori Zainuddin and Joshua Simandjuntak

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

I would love to have been able to have had the expertise that I have now around 50-70 years ago when rattan and wicker were considered an important material. I cannot imagine the experience of being able to work with and among the many prominent designers who were working with it during this period, like Nanna Ditzel, Arne Jacobsen, Franco Albini and Giovanni Travasa.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am now focusing on expanding my brand, working toward new collections and also trying to promote rattan more to the world communities.

 

 MONICA TSANG OF MONICA TSANG DESIGNS, HONG KONG

Can you briefly describe your work?

My style is strange, bold and rich in poetic flavour. Maybe I was born with this style. My Chinese name is Tsang Ka Ki, which is quite common, but the last character ‘Ki’ means strange in Chinese and refers to the very dramatic circumstances surrounding my birth. I am not a conventional person and I am willing to challenge the rules.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

I hope people will remember my work; I hope that it will connect with their feelings, make them laugh and inspire them.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

How can I become a designer? I would say that a love for art just flows through my blood. Since I was little, drawing and paintings have always been my favourite hobbies; however, these leisure activities didn’t bring much happiness to me during my childhood. In that time, I was studying in a conventional school that attached importance to students’ academic performance. Teachers and parents always insisted that a student should perform well in his/her examinations. Therefore, nobody would think that a love for art plays a vital part in students’ development.When I had a science class about Jupiter and Mars, I could not remember how they related to the solar system, but it was their beauty which caught my eyes. When I had a math class, I could not figure out how to complete a calculation, but the numbers told me their gender, like 5 represented a boy and 8 was a girl. Perhaps I was not the apple of my teacher’s eye but I did not care. My soul and body would break apart when I had to learn something, and it was only when I was drawing and able to let loose my imagination that my soul and body would come together. So undoubtedly I would choose a career which could make use of my imagination.Additionally, I am crazy about aesthetic objects. So as a designer here today, speaking about designing ceramic is very natural for me because the concept of home is very important to me.The most enjoyable moments for me are mealtimes with my family. And good food must be provided with exquisite utensils. Thus, my first successful ceramic designs were to match food with containers, which earned me a Red Dot Award. Afterwards, I spent more time designing ceramics, and I was able to win the Young Design Talent Award and then I received a scholarship to complete a two-year master’s programme in ceramics in the UK.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

The more I get to know ceramics, the more I love ceramics. I feel very lucky to do what I like to do and to make it my career. The most distinguishing difference or the most interesting thing about ceramics is its unpredictability. There are several steps in making a ceramic, like grouting and firing, but only when you open the kiln and retrieve the finished product can you call it a success. Due to its unpredictability, ceramic is a material that gives me the impulse to touch it when I see it. That is quite romantic to me. Plastics and steel are material that make you feel icy, plus, they can be easily made by computers.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

My philosophy is ‘Live your life with your heart, inspire your heart by your life’. As long as ordinary things like a photo, a verse of rhyme, the scent of flowers, spicy food, a movie or a hug can provide me with different feelings, I happily embrace these as inspirations. Indeed, I am fond of beautiful things. But I am also curious about the truth behind beautiful things, and I am obsessed with unusual things. I believed that every single item, whether alive or not, can tell us a story. So I like antiques and specimens.Speaking of an innovative spirit, I do not necessarily remind myself of it every day. I love making progress in my life and adapting to changes, and as we go along, sometimes we do not notice it, but we have improved a lot. For example, when you have a chance encounter with someone that you had deeply loved and you realise that s/he is unfamiliar to you the reason is that you have changed. Individuals are always moving forward and meeting different people.

Can you name your top three influences?

I love travelling because I can meet people with various cultural backgrounds. I also like keeping a little distance from other travellers because I like to keep a sense of mystery, and this can also be a source of inspiration.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

I want to work for El Bulli

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am working for five star hotel The South Beach in Singapore.

 

GUSTAVO MAGGIO OF OUTOFSTOCK DESIGN, SINGAPORE 

Can you briefly describe your work?

We approach every project with the intention to find the most genuine and relevant means by which to improve a product or experience in the simplest possible way.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

Whether it is a product, space or experience, we hope our designs will have the potential of improving the lives of many people.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

Since I was young, maybe 6-7 years old, I liked to invent and create things. I never planned to become a designer, just to have the tools to create new and interesting things.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We like to work with the material that best suits each project. Natural materials like wood are our preference, but we are open to many others.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

Our travels and experiences in different cultures are a constant feed to our creativity.

Can you name your top three influences?

Nature, culture and crafts

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

One that has the potential to improve many people’s life, be it a product, space or experience.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

We are currently working on a rug collection inspired by nature, some new furniture pieces, an exhibition on one of the masters of Japanese design and some other projects.

 

HANSHI CHEN OF POETIC LAB, TAIWAN

Can you briefly describe your work?

Our work is a fine mix of emotional sensations and logical considerations. Just like we describe ourselves as Poetic Lab, the concepts of ‘poetic’ and ‘lab’ represent these two characteristics very well.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

We expect people to be surprised by our works at first sight, not just because of the aesthetic, but because they have never seen anything like it before. And after the initial surprise people can take time to appreciate the logical side of the work, and this understanding will bring them closer to our design.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

I think it was when I was 12, while our family refurbished the house. We hired a construction team instead of a designer, and it was then that I first discovered how much fun it could be, and that my imagination could become reality.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We don’t work with one particular material and our projects have quite different starting points. Sometime they are more material driven and sometimes not. I think the material which all our projects share in common is our imagination.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

I enjoy reading a lot. I read all kinds of books, sometimes design-related and sometimes not at all. New inspiration is born between the lines.

Can you name your top three influences?

Visual references also trigger a lot of imagination for me–magazines, movies, exhibitions and photography. I have fallen in love with Pinterest recently.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

Our dream project is the one that just popped into my head last week while showering and I still feel something after a week. And that is the dream project that I can’t wait to start working on.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

We are working on some furniture projects with clients in Europe, including our Bamboo Forest collection, and we are hoping they can be presented at Salone del Mobile 2016. There are some Asian clients starting to approach us recently, and maybe something interesting will happen there.

We also put a lot of emphasis on our own design label, Beyond Object. We have a lot of design proposals under evaluation and some of them will be in production in the latter half of this year.

 

PARK WONMIN OF STUDIO WONMIN PARK, SOUTH KOREA

Can you briefly describe your work?

My work is something that should be able to speak by itself. My design is something that should be able to speak with its surroundings. And even though it may sound obvious, my work should be beautiful and attractive. These ideals are brought together in my work.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

In my work I embrace simplicity, purity and subtlety to arouse delicate sensations and emotions from the people who experience my designs. I always try to put some emotion in the objects that I create.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

I studied architecture before starting my design career. While working in the architecture field I notice that I was much more interested in design, and decided to become a designer.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

I’m working with Resin, which was the best material to realise my concept and aesthetics on to the object.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

Nature always provides good inspiration, always changing and never be the same. I am always amazed by nature.

Can you name your top three influences?

Nature, books and museums

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

Now my profession is a designer, but at the same time, this is my hobby as well. I’m very happy when I see my objects. I want to do this for long time. I want to enjoy what I’m doing, always doing something fresh. I want to design many different objects with something meaningful.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am preparing for a solo show in Paris with Carpenters Workshop Gallery and preparing for an exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris and Milano EXPO 2015.

I am also working on an installation project for the opening ceremony of a fashion store at Le Bon Marché in Paris. I am working with several brands and with various subjects there.

 

ZHANG ZHOUJIE OF ZHANG ZHOUJIE DIGITAL LAB & ENDLESS FORM INDUSTRIAL, CHINA

Can you briefly describe your work?

My work is about exploring the possibilities in a digital world. How is artificial intelligence involved in the future design? This chair, for example, is more like a concept — it represents the future design style.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

My work ultimately contains a digital language, like triangle and logic, which could be the trend of a digital future. The diversity and the perfection in the morphology is my work. These are what I hope to share with audiences.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

In 2006 when I was working in a design company and my first work was launched in the market, I felt that I had become a real designer– my knowledge had been used after I studied.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

The strangeness of the metal can represent my digital languages, especially the legs of the chair. Also metal is easier to produce and a strong material, so it’s a good moulding material, and metal,itself, is beautiful.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

My design philosophy is from traditional Chinese philosophy, and I read a lot about biological evolution. Nature is the most beautiful and strongest creator.

Can you name your top three influences?

Chinese traditional philosophy, evolution and mobile internet thinking.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

My work could be like a creature, which can evolve itself and influence each other. Through many peoples’ selections, it will evolve into a beautiful object with outstanding genes.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am attempting to combine computer software and hardware to create some interactive stuff to discuss the possibilities between humans and computers. More precisely, I am looking to create a method that is suitable for computer’s intelligence to finish some product design.

At the same time, I am working on some other projects, so 2015 will be a very important year for me. Hopefully, it will bring some quite surprising new works.