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Playing Favourites - The material world of Yenchen & Yawen


Playing Favourites - The material world of Yenchen & Yawen

Ya Wen (L) & Yen Chen (R) founded their namesake studio in 2015.

It hasn't been long since they founded their namesake design studio, but Yen Chen & Ya Wen have already delved into more unorthodox material combinations than one can imagine, while still staying true to their Wabi-Sabi aesthetic.

There's the oxidation of Jesmonite (a water-based acrylic resin) which relies on the unstable processes of copper patination and iron oxidation. Then there's Kintsugi, an ancient Japanese art form of repairing broken objects with gold. And, last but not least, the very 'in trend' Terrazzo which takes inspiration from the low-cost flooring material invented by Venetian construction workers. All techniques that make their works both experimental and organically beautiful. Some even describe them of having a sunken treasure's quality - very precious indeed!

Their main collections Landscape of Oxidation include Iron Rust, Patina Blue and Golden Kintsugi.

Both hail from Taiwan and are now based in London, with their designs stocked in high-profile shops like London's Design Museum. They're also gearing up to create larger items and providing new materials for interior design. We were lucky to chat with them during their busy schedule and learn a little bit more about what makes them tick.

How did you two meet?

We met each other in London's Royal College of Art at 2012 when Ya Wen was studying her second year Master, and Yen Chen was interviewing for his entry into the Design Product course there.

Can you tell me about your background?

Ya Wen graduated from Royal College of Art in 2012, specialising in Textile design mixed media. After graduated she collaborated with Anthropologie New York for their 2013 collection creating a hardware range. She also participated in various exhibitions such as Heal's London, Salone Internazionale del Mobile, Art Basel and Tokyo showcasing her work and receiving lots of attention and strong positive feedback. This success has been the primary driving source to start her studio in London first. Yen Chen studied Design Product at Royal College of Art under designers like Tord Boontje, Simon Hasan, Martin Postler and Ian Ferguson. He graduated two years after Ya Wen.

Golden Kintsugi (Top) & Patina Blue (Bottom) Collections


What was the moment when you decided to work together?

We were preparing for a Christmas open studio and making some small Christmas gifts. We started from Yen Chen's first year experimental project Something Old Something New by using casting material to create new casting technique which is inspired by traditional craft. The success of developing the concept into products encouraged us to look into traditional crafts and develop our process from our insight.

You're best known for using Kintsugi for your debut design. What attracted you to use it?

Yen Chen is interested in cover material form, traditional craft, process of making and new technology. Ya Wen specialises in mixed media. Her area of expertise is creating innovative rich combinations of various raw materials. Together, we're both fascinated with time defined processes. Hence, we are able to merge craft and technology, design and science to create unique handmade pieces that reflect collective memory of objects.

Kintsugi is sometimes described as one of the beauties that is "imperfect impermanent, and incomplete". To reveal this, we are implying not only the techniques and patterns but also the organic shape of the object to form the unity of Wabi-Sabi. Since Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese art form of repairing broken objects, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Inspired by this idea we have created a new casting method to repair cracked Jesmonite with metal.

The Terrazzo collections also see Yenchen & Yawen delving into jewelry design.

Their new interior design ideas were launched at this year's London Design Festival.


Most of your works are small designs and accessories. Any chance we'll see you working on larger scale items like furniture?

We are working on the larger scale items and looking forward to the new project to apply our combination of material on it.

At London Design Festival 2017, you've also launched your interior design ideas. Can you tell me more about this?

We want to try different scale of our works and also find the way to apply our patterns and material into our daily life.


For more on Yenchen & Yawen's works, visit here.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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