INSPIRED BY the richness of Chinese culture embedded in traditional Feng Shui articles, the Ji Jian Wu Collection presents a contemporary take on these objects that bring prosperity and blessings.
Developed with Design Incubation Centre from the Division of Industrial Design, National University of Singapore, we speak with Lin Qiuxia to find out what fuels her passion to create and the significance of culture in her designs.
PLEASE TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I’m an industrial designer, who graduated from the Division of Industrial Design, National University of Singapore in 2019. Spending my childhood in China has cultivated my strong interest in Chinese culture. I like to integrate interesting stories and elements from traditional culture into my works such as Ji Jian Wu and Xian Cha. The latter was a school project with two other designers, Yang Yang and Laura Maartje Bijl.
Industrial Designer Lin Qiuxia, graduate of Division of Industrial Design, National University of Singapore, marries her Chinese heritage with innovative designs that improve or bring a new experience.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, WHAT ABOUT DESIGN DREW YOU IN?
My first encounter with Design was during my Poly days. I took some programmes related to design, such as Engineering and Design Project, Industrial Engineering and Human Factors. That was when I realised that I am interested in problem-solving.
“I like how design can help to improve people’s daily living or create a brand new experience to interact with objects.”
Therefore, I decided to pursue Industrial Design. As I dive deeper into the design field and explored different design directions, I gained more interest in product design and user experience design.
WE’VE NOTICED A STRONG ASIAN INFLUENCE IN YOUR DESIGNS, ESPECIALLY IN THE JI JIAN WU COLLECTION, HOW DOES CULTURE INSPIRE YOU?
When I was young, I always tagged along with my grandparents to watch Min Opera (Fujian Opera). I am fascinated by the exaggerated paints on the opera performers’ faces, as well as their vibrant costumes. They are used to symbolize a character's role, fate, and illustrate the character's emotional state and general character.
“I believe cultural roots define who we are, why we behave and think in a certain way.”
It makes me feel a sense of belonging.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DESIGN JI JIAN WU, WHAT WAS YOUR GOAL AND HOW DID YOU WORK TOWARDS IT?
I started by exploring traditional Chinese elements. It was a stroke of serendipity and curiosity to explore Feng Shui due to its major influence in Chinese culture. Upon diving deeper, I realised that Feng Shui can be interpreted as a reflection of the Chinese’s hopes in achieving ideal lives, often related to receiving well wishes and blessings.
Thus, my goal for Ji Jian Wu is to spread the awareness of such hopes embedded in Feng Shui, its story, and why each object is being used in practice for the various good blessings. To achieve this, the first approach is to tell the story by redesigning traditional Feng Shui objects into something more relevant in modern times.
OUT OF ALL YOUR DIFFERENT CREATIONS, WHICH ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF, AND WHY?
Ji Jian Wu, of course! Firstly, it is a work that holds my beloved culture. Secondly, it’s a collection that went into production and is sold in stores now. It’s a dream come true!
WHO ARE YOUR DESIGN HEROES?
Jaime Hayon! His works fall on two ends of the spectrum — some are exaggerated and intriguing, while others can be simple and minimalistic. Some examples that illustrate this are Green Chicken
, and the series of porcelain designs like Hope Bird
. From his porcelain designs, you can probably tell where the design inspirations for Ji Jian Wu come from.
From Ji Jian Wu - Jin Chan. In Feng Shui practice, the Three-legged toad helps to bring wealth. Find out more about the story of Jin Chan here.
As I like to integrate Chinese culture elements into my work, designers who do the same naturally attract my attention too. Jiang Qiong Er (CEO and Art Director of Shang Xia) and Guo Pei (China’s most renowned couturier) are some of such designers that I look up to. The traditional Chinese influences are evident in their works and yet they look modern in the present-day.
In the aspect of experience design, I like Oki Sato’s Nendo studio. The brand concept often brings little surprises and pleasant improvements to objects of daily living. Their sources of inspiration related to the actions of everyday life can be enlightening, making me wonder “Why didn’t I see this issue myself?
” or “Why didn’t I think of this?
”. Some of my favourite works from Nendo studio are Talking
— a soya sauce, salt and pepper containers that uses the shape of the mouth to differentiate the condiments, instead of using words or letters, and THE FORK
— a fork specially designed for eating cup noodles. This is what I hope to achieve too when I do user experience design in products.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON PROJECTS, WHAT DO YOU LOOK OUT FOR IN PROPOSALS?
Usually, I prefer projects that improve or bring a new user experience. My favourite part of the design process is when we have to observe and interact with users to find out new insights. I also like the process of prototyping and testing with users.
DO YOU HAVE A DREAM PROJECT — WHAT IS IT?
I hope to set up my own design studio or brand one day. I would love to design products that could bring pleasant changes or intriguing experiences to others, be it physically or mentally.
The Xian Cha, an earlier design by Lin Qiuxia, Yang Yang, and Laura Maartje Bijl, is a self-heating portable tea brewer for a better Chinese tea experience on the move.
WITH CREATIVE WORK, OFTEN COMES THE INEVITABLE MIND BLOCKS. HOW DO YOU GET UNSTUCK CREATIVELY?
During mind blocks, I will try to put the current thoughts aside and go back to my initial research to spot the unseen things. I will also go online to find relevant articles and design works for inspiration. Or, I will just leave everything aside and do random stuff, sometimes inspiration comes unexpectedly.
DO YOU HAVE OTHER WORDS OF ADVICE FOR OTHER DESIGNERS OR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN DESIGN?
“Be passionate about what you are doing.”
Even when we face difficulties like lack of inspiration or having mind block, be persistent and never stop learning.
SO… WHAT’S NEXT — ARE YOU WORKING ON ANYTHING NEW NOW, OR WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING FROM YOU?
I hope to gain more experience and exposure in design by first working in the industry. My next creation could be related to experience design as that is one of my interest areas.
ABOUT THE COLLECTION
Inspired by the richness of Chinese culture embedded in Feng Shui article, the Ji Jian Wu Collection
presents a contemporary take on these traditional objects that bring prosperity and blessings. Whether or not you are a believer, the receiver will be gifted with well wishes.