Surface designer Sian Zeng was awarded the William Atkinson award in 2008 by Central Saint Martins and the Ellle Decoration Ellle Decoration young talent of the year award in 2010/11. I spoke to her just before the launch of her newest collection at Pulse.
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
I was born in China and moved to Hungary when I was seven. My multicultural upbringing really inspires my work. I love crazy stories and beautiful patterns, and so I explore the possibilities of new and traditional technology to create narrative-led surfaces for quirky interiors.
Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of the Sian Zeng.
A really good day is when I have completed all the tasks I set out to do for the day and still have the time to meet friends and have fun. Consequently, a very bad day for me is a day when I procrastinate a lot on the internet.
What inspires your ideas? Describe the process you go though to turn your ideas into products.
I draw a lot of inspiration from stories, whether they’re ancient or something that I experienced myself. I love stories that are funny or a bit weird. I translate those ideas into products so other people can experience the stories through my products. With my Magnetic Woodlands wallpaper I wanted to create a product that allows users to tell their own tales using the magnetic characters, buildings and dry wipe speech bubbles.
What advice would you give to an aspiring surface designer?
I value great design very highly. But, I think that for a designer to become successful it is also extremely important that they market themselves well and calculate their pricing model correctly.
Desert island design time, which three things could you not live without?
Lemon squeezer by Joseph Joseph
Sharpener desk tidy by Jamie and Mark Antoniades
Bamboo pen graphics tablet by Wacom
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that I was able to turn my degree show project, the magnetic wallpaper prototype into a finished product with the help of UK manufacturers.
What’s next for you?
I will be exhibiting my new collection “Magic and Fun” at Pulse London. I am very excited to see the launch of my new products in the UK.
And, finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Ella Doran is an award-winning designer, who pioneered the use of digital printing techniques, and specifically the application of photography onto functional, everyday objects, when it was first developed in the 1990s. Now an established …
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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