A bosom friend overseas brings a distant land near. We share the stories of overseas Chinese in Overseas Special. We hope the share will help bring the world closer. The 28th Special introduces Hsin-Chun Wang and Ye Liu who set up HCWD Studio in New York.
PS: The brick lamp designed by them is now raising funds on Kickstarter. You can click on the orange link to support.
Why study abroad?
I was working for a design firm in Taipei for several years, I felt likeI wasn’t using all my potentials and the kind of routine 9 to 5, day after day job scared me over time. During the time just past my 25th birthday, and a huge economy recession on the way, I really wanted to give myself a new start. It happened to one of my best friend was preparing TOEFL, the English exam for applying grad school in USA.He asked me if I want to join him and that’s how everything started.
刘烨 Ye Liu
I am very slow to warm up in terms of career directions. Consequently, I am exploring and will always try more comfortable and balanced positions for myself between life and working status. Study and work abroad is just one of expressions for different ways of my life.
Is there anything happened impressed you?
其实刚来到一个语言不熟，文化完全不同的地方，任何事情都令人印象深刻，初来乍到刚下飞机拖著50公斤重的行李，独自去搭巴士，再坐3小时车去找朋友借住，如果在国内就是很平淡的事情，但当时的景象我现在历历在目。文化衝击的故事就真的太多了，要说对我人生有影响的，是第一个寒假来纽约做校外参访时，顺道去看的几个当代艺术的永久展览，其中一个叫做Earth Room, 就在普通的纽约老公寓裡面，没有任何门面只有一个小牌子标示，裡面也都是一般住家，但其中一整户被DIA永久租下来，整个房间被两尺厚的土壤覆盖著，我当时被震撼到但却说不出什麽原因，也没太多理解，但我想那是开启我对当代艺术兴趣的一个分界点。
Everything is new for a international student first time came to a place of new language and strange cultures. I can clearly remember I was dragging two luggage’s weighted about 90 pounds over the airport and was looking for a bus can bring me to my friend’s place which is three hours driving away at the first time in USA and along.There is so much to talk about of culture impacts I have experienced, but if you want me to say one thing that changed my life is a field trip we came to New York City in the winter break. I remembered we went to see a permanent exhibition located in an ordinary apartment call ”Earth Room”. There was a unit permanent rent by DIA and covered by couple feet thick earth. I was certainly shocked by the scene and couldn’t figure out what was it at the time but it definitely planned a seed inside me. That’s a moment I started to admire and enjoy contemporary art.
刘烨 Ye Liu
Almost every American native is a handy person. DIY is not only a local subculture but also a life style sweeps North America. People hand make daily objects, build their backyard pools all by themselves. From local home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s, you can easily get whatever you want from hardware to lumbers to build an entire house from scratch. Other than this, portable-set houses are provided in stores too, with free delivery.
When I first came to the States, the weather of Northeast Coast is impressive and overwhelming at the same time. Since I was born and raised in the South, when came to the US, I spent a very long time to adjust myself to the six-month-long winter here. Now I am very used to it. By the way, couple days ago I just shoveled my car out of the heavy snow after Blizzard Juno within minutes.
What do you miss about native land ?
It is always my family and some old friends that I miss most. If more I need to say, I would say the feeling that I am completely comfortable living with, the belongingness, and the connections to the land and the society that is so natural to me.
刘烨 Ye Liu
My parents, families and friends. And of course, I guess nobody can resist cuisine and street food back from home in China.
One more thing for me is relatively flat-rate manufacturing and fabricating of furniture and product industries in China.
Will you come back? Why?
I think life is a journey of constantly experiencing new things in the process,and enjoying it no matter it’s good or bad. To me, I want to go where I can see new things I haven’t tried or experienced. It’s could be a good option or a bad one to go back that really depends on what the world will change in the future.
刘烨 Ye Liu
Ideally, I would like to split my time into half for staying in China, catching up with families and friends, then another half for somewhere else in the future. It also depends on the growing of our studio. Hard to say, my professional path is just getting started. I’d rather keep calm and take it slow.
Is it more distinct to view native land in a different environment after going abroad? Any thought?
I feel like I was forced to quitfrom my original life and the things I cared, and thenrestarted it in somewehere else from ground up. Those were used to meaning a lot to me suddenlty are not anymore and those were meaningless become important in my life. I am not sure it is affecting me in a good way or the other, but I feel like I am numb of watching those political and economical arguments in Taiwan, and worried about people ignoring of global happenings and trends.
刘烨 Ye Liu
Sometimes things turn clearer when you try reviewing them from different and even more angles. Luckily, after soaked in wider views and voices, especially in New York City, my understanding of China and Chinese is getting more comprehensive from first-handed information and diverse cultural impacts from outside of China.
Generally people are more interested in you as an individual during communication and barely label you with so-called “Asian”, “Chinese Students”, “Post-80s” or “Generation Y”, etc. in this classic immigrant city.
What is your favorite artist (in wider range such as art, music, movie)?What is the influence?
My favorite artist is Olafur Eliasson, the magician of light and space. I like to see his works especially when I’m running out of my energy.Though he is an artist focusing on contemporary art, he has a very logical mind and disciplines that I can feel the sensibility within the emotional forms and visual effects he created.Another person is Ang Lee, a Taiwanese film director who I look up to and get inspired from. As a person warm up slowly and is seeking to make another big change in his 30’s, I hope to have the same determination and guts Lee has to keep my energy high.
刘烨 Ye Liu
My favorite contemporary artist is Andy Goldsworthy. I am always inspired by his projects that are made by himself site specifically. His works communicate with daily environment from his sharp eyes, sensitive mind and soft heart.
What amazing character do your works have?
I am not so sure there is one, afterall it’s too early to be recognized as certain kind of designer or artist in early 30’s and I don’t want to be. I think it shouldn’t be sudden made but a process of accumulationof what you have experienced and learned in the long career path. My works are reflections of the special moments I have had and observed and sometimes in a specific period I would create certain things I would like to goal at the time. Basically, I want to create one special point of view that can change people’s viewpoint of everyday things, neither more nor less, like a single black dot on a blank white paper.
刘烨 Ye Liu
I don’t attempt to fight and dictate every single detail in design. Instead, I appreciate uncontrollable moments and surprises in thinking and building process and would like to calm down, response to present issues, sit back and enjoy life. These approaches and effects reflect back to my projects. Consequently, people will connect with my works easily and interact naturally.
↑ 部分草图 Sketches
↑ 部分草图 Sketches
Please describe the educational characteristics the school you attended.
Cranbrook Academy of Art 是一所相对其他艺术院校来说很独特的学校。校园面积1.3平方公里(今年刚刚被评为最美的研究生院校的榜首)，直到毕业我还是会在校园里经常性地迷路。由于很好地传承了非美国传统艺术教育的“传统”，自从老沙里宁建校以来，学校一贯保持精英式的教学模式。小而精，只有研究生院，全校学生仅100多人，每一个学生都有自己的独立工作室与非常大的空间资源，学校没有任何学分课程，从入学开始，教授的身分只是一个辅佐者，有时只是另一位独立设计师，每一位学生必须独立自主的找出他们想要研究的领域并在两年之类建立自己的一套设计系统，感觉很像是让你在两年内创立并运作一个公司，而教授是顾问。
Cranbrook Academy of Art is a very special and unique art school comparing to others in USA. The campus itself is 1.3 square kilometers, which has just been rated in the first place out of 30 most beautiful places to go to graduate school (http://www.gradschoolhub.com/30-beautiful-places-graduate-school/). Even after I graduated from there, I still got lost on the campus quite often. The school has been keeping itsuntypical American traditions of elite education style very well since Eliel Saarinen established it. With only graduate program, it meant to be held and run by a small and talented group of people. There are only around one hundred and fifty students on campus; each studentis given a large and independent studio space and plenty of resources to establish their system and body of works in two years. There is no curriculum or creditprovided in Cranbrook. Professors, aka Artists in Residents, are merely playing roles of consultants to guide and help their students to find their interests and start their own “companies” in these two years.
How did you get acquainted with each other and decide to cooperate?
It is interesting that most of Cranbrookers/Crannies have many views and tastes in common. So-called “birds of a feather flock together”.
Since it was a small group on campus and there were only three students who could speak Chinese at that time, A Japanese architecture colleague introduced Ye to Hsin-Chun. When moving into the new studio, Ye was in looking for a drafting table/desk. Hsin-Chun suggested building one from scratch in the woodshop instead of rushing to Ikea. So then this became Ye’s first mini-design-build project at school collaborating with Hsin-Chun.
↑ 两人手工工作中 both of them are doing handwork
↑ 两人爱好户外运动，音乐，茶道等 their hobbies are outdoor activities, music, sado etc.
What is the most unforgettable thing during your cooperation period?
Solar Panel, an outdoorpiece of landscape furniture, was the first teamwork project with Hsin-Chun. Because it was a full-size piece and lots of physical labor was involved, we had arguments and fights in the process of design and installation. As Hsin-Chun was swamped in his thesis and graduation project at that time, Ye took care of the “gardening” and “base” work before Hsin-Chun jumped in.
When did you start to surf on gooood? Any suggestions? Thanks : )
From early last year, after some of my colleagues shared posts from Gooood as well as articles of my designer friends, I thought it was interesting and started subscribing to it.
I would say more interactive favorable features can be added for subscribers to take part in. For instance, Q&As, surveys, designers’/users’ recommendations, events, user-pick favorite architecture designs, etc..
The original idea of this project is to make people aware of the moment of concealing and revealing light. To make it a functional lamp, instead of a switch, light is activated when raised(on) or laid flat(off). Also by creating the side facets, a natural handle is made which also directs the light when the brick sits on it’s side.
Y-rack is a modular coat rack system which can be reassembledin numerous configurations from short to tall versions, depended on users.It consists of two different Y-shape modules, a center pole and a base.
The design is inspired by nature phenomenon that one splitsin two such as cell division and tree branches. The overallform is influenced by traditional Taiwanese outdoor clothesdryer which has many Y-shape sections for holding clothesand rods.
Stainless steel; 2015
* Wall-mounted version is also available.
Hex is a corner mirror made of polished stainless steel.Relections are trimmed and framed by hexagonal contourwhile folded mirror connects to a dynamic vision through eyes of the observer.
As looking into thecorner of mirror, reversed and double-reversed imagesconsist a world of real and fake.
Stainless steel (available in copper); 2015
30(l) x 17(w) X 40(h)cm
With watchful eyes, they will follow you. Okay, not in astalker-kinda way. Sometimes, they just want to chill outon your desk.
Hand crafted and painted, each character has unique naturewood grain and color that cut out from hand picked scratchmaterial. With minimum design, the types of eyes, we wantto give them just a little personalities and the room for yourimagination.
American hard woods ; 2014
Playable and eatable! By redesigning the profile of traditionallollipop, new joy has been added into this sweet enjoyable thing.
Isomalt, Cane Sugar ; 2011
A field with four entrances/exits surrounded by fourquarter circles is designed to stimulate people tocommunicate face-to-face. The arc benches alsoencourage people to sit at a comfortable angle forconversation. Quarter Benches are oriented touse in any interior space.
red oak, stainless steel ; 2010
By peeling up the original turf from the ground, a cozy platform is created on which people could step, sit, and lie down. The turf surface does not only direct the ground towards the sunlight, but it also shifts the natural material, grass, to become furniture, sculpture and landscape.To minimize the damage to the nature, instead of using modern chemical treatment, Charred wood structure, a traditional way to isolate the wood core form mold and bugs, is applied to Solar Panel.
Framing lumber, steel, turf ; 2010
The objective of the “A” series is to apply utility and simplify user experience by refining the ordinary experience of people. A-table is a narrow bar height table that can be engaged from either direction.A-bench is a bar stool height long bench that keeps those seated at the same eye level as those standing. They can be used together or separate to create a “field” of social activities in public spaces.
Maple ; 2009
The project Twist Door is based on the research of the relationship
between spaces. The function of twist door is not only for opening
or closing, but also for filtering.The twist movement turns the door into
an in-between position, we call this the “semi-closed” t “semi-open”
position, or vice verse.
wood, elastic cloth ; 2008
When: 2008 – present
Where: New York City, NY, US
Who: Hsin-Chun Wang 王新鈞
School and Office:HCWD Studio
When: 2009 – present
Where: New York City, NY, US
Who: Ye Liu 刘烨
From: Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
School and Office:HCWD Studio