A blend of art, design, engineering and craftsmanship: that’s presents his work Qian Jiang, a young chinese designers in 2015 has decided to open in Stockholm, sweden, his studio, baptizing Dejawu: a name that on the one hand invokes a sense of estrangement that we all know and that always leaves us a little speechless, and on the other – simply by converting a “v” and a “w” – includes the chinese word that indicates the object (Wu, in fact). This combination carries with it the philosophy underlying the production of the Qian Jang: we discovered at the Salone Satellite in 2018 and I will present you with an interview in which speaks about the objects, but also of the union of the two cultures from which they spring.
Lightop, designer Qian Jiang. Three elements in brass with their simple shapes are joined together as a single family. And yet, each performs a different function: the upper one is a spark-out, the center is a candle holder for dinner, and the fund can hold a tea light. You can combine in various ways, to play with the design.
Despite the fact that you will live a long time in Sweden, you’ll certainly maintained contacts with China: what is going on – from the point of view of design – in that great Country?
From what I can hear, in general, in the sector of design furniture in China, design studios are increasingly opening up, as well as hundreds of buds in flower. Especially in large cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, are living a moment of strong entrepreneurship, designers, and creatives are growing, benefiting from the accessibility of local customers and the amount of productive resources available.
For this there are a lot of new brands of furniture, has already actually started both in the phase of foundation on the part of the designer. On the other hand, the flavor nordic has had a great influence vis-à-vis the chinese market in the last five years, while in the past decades, it was dominated by the styles of Italian, French, German, in addition to chinese, innovative or traditional, Muji, “super normal”).
However, this does not mean that all of these references have disappeared, remaining consistently popular in various places and pointing to the different target groups: think of the large chinese population and its different taste… even a small percentage can still mean a considerable amount of objects produced. “Diversity” is the word that sums up this phenomenon: my sense is that this bloom will last for a long time, and of course, every sector will deepen its niche market.
Archipelago, designer Qian Jiang. The Swedish summer is short and sweet, and to remember it every day, Study Dejawu has designed a series of three candlesticks that are inspired by ladders and boats and swimming pools that allow you to bring a small archipelago in every home.
Let’s talk now about Northern Europe…
I live in Sweden for almost 9 years, since 2011; I have worked in two different nordic capitals, Copenhagen and Stockholm, carrying out my activities both as a designer in a design studio of furniture be it as a producer. Furniture and industrial designers here have always questioned their style, and made continuing experiments that resulted in the so-called “new nordic design”.
What is happening now is that many of the players of reference are keeping the legacy of the simplicity and craftsmanship of scandinavian, that is the foundation of the culture of these Countries, adding other values in a different perspective. For example, playing with new materials, new colors, new finishes, working with a method of producing intelligent and at the same time economic, and it’s spreading a new business model (more transparent), you experience the interdisciplinary approach, and with all the insiders keep the market thriving and interesting.
Whale Home, designer Qian Jiang. Qian Jiang has created this umbrella stand to compensate for the disappointment of having to cancel a tour of whale watching in Iceland. He then imagined and drew a whale, then transforming it into an umbrella stand.
Then, by comparing if we want the two Countries, we can say that…
That what is happening in China is more to interpret in the horizontal direction, while the industrial design of the furniture in the North of Europe is deeply vertical and thriving thanks to everything that falls within the definition of “New Nordic Design Culture”.
In the conception of your projects, what is the weight of the chinese culture and how that culture of the north-european?
It’s really hard to say… When I work on new ideas, often the cultural references are not necessarily the base from which to start, but can spontaneously reside in the inspiration, or emerge during the design process. Once finished, I look at the result and discover that the influence of eastern and western culture for each project has a weight very different.
Ballet, designer Qian Jiang. The spinning top, whirling, reveals its contents: the adhesive tape. But when it stops, it rests neatly on the desk, waiting for a new round.
Your works are often characterized by a “low-technology”: from the washing machine manual to the tables to assemble with a few simple gestures. It is a return to the past or a new way of thinking about the future, less connected to technology and therefore more human?
These projects are “new” because design is a value-added contemporary, even if their roots are “old”. The washing machine low-tech, and the table Tjena Kina (Ni Hao China), they look both to the past, but in reality were performed with different modes.
Lo-fi Washer questions: how can a product category that somehow has disappeared from history, and still have today’s value in terms of the redesign? The challenge in this case is to find the possibility of a scenario that is modern that is able to satisfy the specific feature of the old product. It can be a way to understand and predict the future, leaving a question mark? In the end, Lo-fi Washer is more like an art installation that an object really practical.
Tjena Kina Furniture Collection is rather more pragmatic: I have been studying the joints in wooden architecture, traditional chinese, and considering at the same time the modern possibilities of mass production. In the end, it all goes to the benefit of the customer, from the solution “flatpack” affordable and honest functionality and aesthetics. So, yes: my projects want to be more “human”, but for me the “technology” remains an important tool for the design.
Tjena Kina and Tjena Kina 2.0, designer Qian Jiang. It is a collection of furniture (dining table and coffee table) was born from the search of the intersection between timeless design and modern approach to mass production: it is inspired by the scandinavian minimalism and traditional chinese architecture in wood (that is, based on the assembly of the parts calls “the mortise-tenon”). The aim is to maintain the optimal combination between ease of use and cost effectiveness. The tables are made of oak wood and melting of zinc.
From the point of view of the form (which is always based on simplicity), what are your sources of inspiration?
I start very often with the to choose a fragment of memory, and the result is manifest in the subject with simplicity and moderation, always maintaining the right balance between functionality and aesthetics and trying to understand the needs and behaviour of the end user.
Lo-fi Washer, designer Qian Jiang
What are your most recent areas of research and which projects are you currently working on?
I’m experimenting with the lamination of birch veneer pressed into shape: is a hand-crafted traditional in the series, but for me it is a novelty: it gives me the opportunity to learn a great deal, in addition to play and offer many opportunities. A stool is almost finished and, I hope, a whole range of furniture from the same collection will soon arrive. Also, I have two other products in launch phase by many Swedish manufacturers: Cone Candle Holder Set for Design House Stockholm and Skruvad Stand Coat Hanger for Essem Design.
For more information and for contacts with Qian Jiang, see the website studiodejawu.com
In the cover image, Bell opener, designer Qian Jiang for Normann Copenhagen. “Some people will never be able to drink. After one beer are ready for a nap. And I’m one of those people. Then, the next time you open a drink, you wake up or someone else wakes you up”. A joke, of course, because there already existed of hybrid objects that coniugavano bottle openers, and doorbells, but generally it was second thoughts of the original shape. Qian Jiang has been hit and so has designed a new instrument with lightness and irony.