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Fabricating Imperfection: Zhekai Zhang & 'Fabric Formula I'


Fabricating Imperfection: Zhekai Zhang & 'Fabric Formula I'
Zhekai Zhang & Fabric Formula I. Images courtesy of the designer.

Zhekai Zhang is a product designer and graduate of the Royal College of Art in London. This year, he set up his design consultation studio KAE, and his works continue to be exhibited at the London Design Fair, Milan Salone Satellite, and Révélations, to name a few. As part of ‘On The Rise’, a new segment showcasing emerging creatives on The Artling Artzine, we get to know more about Zhang and his unique series ‘Fabric Formula I’

Based in China, Zhang takes on the philosophy of “design through making”. In doing so, he develops unique narratives that underline the relationship between fundamental industrial production and craftsmanship. Zhang is inspired by “understanding the process of making”, and thereby understanding the territories between the ceramic material and himself. 


Fabric Formula 1 - Sugar Bowl


Fabric Formula 1 - Tea Pot

Zhang’s series ‘Fabric Formula I’ is particularly intriguing, not just in its concept but also in its execution. This series is comprised of a series of white glazes teapots, jugs, and cups, and challenges the norms of the medium. Using a fabric mold on one side, the resulting effect presents the clay as partially unmoulded. It also results in a grainy finish that mimics the texture of the fabric itself. By doing this, Zhang sought to “use the fabric as the catalyst for the purpose of showing the unique and imperfection beauty bought by textile in mass production.” 

This casting with fabric eliminated the artificiality that comes with mass-produced objects, yet can be mass-produced. Furthermore, it takes away the artificial feel of such designs. Zhang successfully combines handicraft imperfection with the standardization of industrial production. As a result of this hand-made process and the unpredictability of how the fabric folds, no two works in ‘Fabric Formula I’ are identical. 

Zhekai Zhang, "Fabric Formula I". Image courtesy of the designer.


Fabric Formula 1 - Milk Jug


Fabric Formula 1 - Tea Cup

Speaking to The Artling Artzine, Zhang also cites ‘Fabric Formula I’ as the series he’s most attached to. He further elaborates on how this series has taught him to understand that the characteristics of materials can be “borrowed”, thus allowing him to invent a new object language that belongs to him and only him.

At the moment, Zhang is preparing for his next exhibition in Maison&Objet Paris and will launch a new product collection during the show. For now, you can check out his ‘Fabric Formula I’ series on The Artling by clicking 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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