HUNDHUND visits Taiwanese design duo: Yellow Nose Studio.
We’d been admiring them from afar for a while, but after the lockdown eased in Berlin, we were delighted to finally get the chance to drop in on Taiwanese design duo Yellow Nose, for our first HUNDHUND studio visit. It was a joy to chat with Ying (left) and Kai (right) and discover the meaning behind their processes; why they choose to allow for imperfections in their handmade objects, and why they work to ensure the natural character of the material shines through.
Photo: Bennie Julian Gay
After studying architecture together in their home country of Taiwan, Kai and Ying decided to make the cultural pilgrimage to Europe to further specialise in their practices.
Y: “We came to Berlin for our masters programme. Kai studied Product Design and I studied Scenography.”
K: “While studying architecture I found out that I like to focus on the small scale; on the material itself. That's why later on I chose product design. To focus more on the objects.”
But they were enticed by the idea of collaboration.
Y: “During our studies we wanted to see if there was a possibility that we could bring both of our professions into the works and so we tried it.”
And so Yellow Nose was born. Making a humble debut with N-01 - a tableware collection. But they didn’t completely detach themselves from their foundations in architectural study.
Y: “The most important thing we learned from architecture was not actually the technical part. It's actually how architecture becomes the base of our lifestyle in a natural way. How you look at things, and how you focus on the details.”
The duo hold a particular significance over the details of the material by ensuring the natural character of the material is not overlooked.
Y: “With the clay [designs], they are earth. They are from the earth, so we think they should be raw. Because normally when doing the process of making tableware, like in the industrial way, they use a mould and it will keep the edges really clean and neat and minimal. But, for us, we thought it shouldn't be like this; the clay should be itself. So we leave all the rough edges.”
Allowing for imperfections is central to their philosophy, and Ying enlightened me to how this is represented in their branding.
Y: “In life or in work, people try to pursue this ‘perfect circle’. But it’s never going to be a perfect circle naturally - if you do it by hand. This has become really symbolic in our work, so our logo is actually not perfectly round. Which is the way it represents us.”
And in the same way that allowing for these imperfections opposes the uniform nature of mass production, Kai and Ying further imbue their pieces with individuality and warmth through the handmade nature of their process.
K: “We are always thinking, how can we [work] in an industrial way, but also bring emotion to this cold system… So we really hand polish everything and everything really comes from our own hands. That’s the way we bring emotion into this.”
Photo: Bennie Julian Gay
Over time, a system emerged for the structure of their collaboration, which plays to both their strengths.
K: “I’ll bring random ideas to Ying who will then use her scenography talent to bring all these ideas into a set - like into one big picture.”
Y: “So if we say Kai has twenty ideas for chairs, I will talk to him and then decide on six of them for the collection. But then, of course, with production, we both do it.”
Much like us at HUNDHUND, the idea of ‘slow living’ is important to the Yellow Nose duo, as Ying explains: “You know how fast the world is right now, how mass production is dominant? We don’t want that. Tableware, chairs, anything, should be something you could keep for life and be seen as precious. Tableware shouldn’t just be tableware, it should be a piece of art as well.”
And the non-judgemental, easy pace of the Berlin arts scene has been a welcoming home to their practice.
Y: “Berlin is the city where you can do whatever you want. I think that kind of gave us the courage to really do whatever we want. Because no one cares. We've been here almost five years now and we really like it. After two years we realised that the visions we had of Yellow Nose couldn't happen if we were in Taiwan, so we decided to try hard and see if it works here. And since then, Berlin has become home. It's not as crazy as London, Paris or New York; it still has this space between things and areas and I think that helps us a lot to develop creatively.”
Thank you to Ying and Kai.
You can learn more about Yellow Nose or order from their latest collection at the links below.
Words by Ewan Waddell.