Chi-Hong Chuang started his brand with one dream in mind… making thoughtful, beautiful design accessible to everyone. He combines elegance, functionality and imagination to create objects that improve the atmosphere of the space they poses. Presented for the first time in Australia by SCHÖN, we sat down to talk to Chi-Hong about how his own memories inform his creations.
What drew you to create these objects?
I really enjoy observing household objects and letting my imagination run wild. I want to give everybody a story, an image, while catering to people’s functional needs. Movable and functional furniture is the closest relationship between people and the environment, and therefore the objects I want to create.
Tell me more about the importance of memory and imagination in your designs.
Memory and imagination strongly inform my aesthetic. A wonderful encounter, a scene, a story… these create the reasons why a product exists. Take the swing shelf for example: swinging is the most light-hearted childhood moment I can recall… reading the curves of swings makes me happy, feeling the gentle rhythms of swings makes me free, looking at the skyline high above the swing enables me to see higher and further. I have been able to turn that feeling into something beautiful and functional in the swing shelf.
A lot of your products have dual functionality. Did you design the series with this intention, or did it just come about in the design process?
I am very inspired by the interplay between East and West, how these cultures come together and the differences between them. We use a lot of angles in our design vocabulary to express this juncture… a product will look different because of the change of light or angle, or how it is used. I also want people to be able to define how they use the products themselves, creating their own narratives about their space and the objects in them.
The centrepiece of your latest collection is the Float barstool. How would you describe it?
This series of works is called “imagine furniture” and I hope that under the demand of the function, there are some interesting or imaginative elements to each piece. I hope that 70%-80% of the attention on the products is paid to the basic function and the aesthetic, leaving 20%-30% to provide a little of humour and imagination. The design of the barstool surface floats through illusion, like magic, and the floating space creates a storage space. This space creates curiosity… in several exhibitions where the stool was displayed, everyone touched it and tried to use their hands to see how the stool floats. Everyone is pragmatic most of the time, but we can show that everyone has a romantic heart and wants to believe in magic.
Who is your favourite contemporary artist or designer?
Oki Sato from Nendo, I like the humour and surprise that he brings to everything he creates. He is also a designer across multiple fields, products, space, and styles and does things that no one expects, like the pop-up store for Starbucks in Tokyo. Oki created a coffee library (an entire white space covered in gradients of brown coffee) and changed the whole behaviour about how we interact with coffee. In the library you chose a cup of coffee like you choose a book. He has made many products alive, using vitality and visual tension, I always looking forward to his new work. In the concept description of each work, he will use hand-drawn sketches to illustrate the concept, not long boring words, which makes it easier to understand the ideas that you want to express, and it is also the part that everyone finds interesting. In these details, you can see his sense of humour.
Explore all of Chihong’s imaginative pieces in the SCHÖN Zen Collection!