MEET THE DESIGNER DING’S NARRATIVE HOUSECould you please...
MEET THE DESIGNER DING’S NARRATIVE HOUSE
Could you please introduce yourself and your brand?
My name is Ding Yi. I am visual artist, graphic designer and curator living in Helsinki, Finland. I am originally a graphic designer from China who went to London to study art curation at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design.
From London I moved to Finland for family reasons and the love of Finnish design. At the beginning the Finnish style of life shocked me. I am from a mega city in China. I couldn’t understand that much of the simple, quiet, silent, distant and minimalistic lifestyle. I felt quite lonely and had so many negative thoughts. I resorted to drawing and expressed all of that unseen energy onto paper using ink. After two years, I established my studio in 2013 and turned into a visual artist showcasing my ink art in Finland.
Ding’s Narrative House was launched in 2014. It is a growing collection of my own design creations. I call them wearable art, inspired from my visual artworks. Currently the focus is on limited edition, unique satin silk scarfs.
The main idea is to build my brand in a visual way, to tell the stories that I have experienced in my Nordic everyday life. The most precious thing for me is to be able to give people the chance to wear my art in their everyday lives.
What is the most important consideration when designing a new collection?
Touching stories. Some are stories of strangers who I encountered on the streets. Others are stories I have come across in various spaces. The spaces may be forests or islands, shops or museums, or just some people’s homes.
You fuse traditional techniques with modern, contemporary imagery in your designs. Could you tell a bit more about this duality?
I am Chinese. My roots are in Asia but I trained to become an artist and a designer in Europe. Both aspects are quite important to me. Without these elements my designs would be lacking a soul.
All of my designs originate from my art. The starting point for my art is the use of traditional Chinese art materials: rice paper, brush and Chinese ink and pigment. They represent my Chinese roots. With ink pen, I am able to express visual, contemporary stories that merge influences from the West with those from the East.
However, I want to distance myself from traditional Chinese painting in which clear patterns are created. As my subconscious mind controls painting with ink, the artworks form by themselves to an extent. I draw everything on the rice paper and later I modify them on my computer to become textile patterns.
What inspires you the most? Do you have a muse?
The stranger. I am a talkative person and I like to meet people and listen to their stories. Finns are mostly quite shy. All the people not scared of foreigners who like to share their life stories are my muses. Many of them have become my friends. They are hippies, artists, antique dealers, lawyers, shop owners, waiters or teenagers. They are part of my Finnish life and inspire me a lot, even if you can’t see any faces on my art.
What exciting plans do you have for the year ahead?
I am continuing the planning of my project: Pomo pop – The story of the face. It is an art project that involves 100 people. Pomo pop merges Chinese ink with western pop art. I want to record Finnish culture through the lens of Pomo pop. This can be seen as a documentary research project into Finnish people and people who have lived in Finland for at least ten years. The practical concept is to offer a stage to the life stories of a diverse group of people. I would like to print all 100 paintings on silk. It is quite big project that will take some time to finish.
I will continue to design some new wearable art scarves this year. But I am quite a slow person ;-) My design philosophy is timeless, like that of Finnish design in general. I don’t have strict schedules for my products like most fashion brands. Mine emerge when the time is right.