Using Raw Materials in Unforeseen Ways — Q+A with Yellow Nose Studio
Yellow Nose Studio is a ceramic and interior design studio based in Berlin. Partners in both work and life, Hsin-Ying Ho and Kai-Ming Tung are on a common and ever-evolving quest for the perfect balance between the organic and inorganic, the logical and emotional, the handcrafted and the industrial. With a background in architecture, they aim to use raw materials in unforeseen ways. The studio recently introduced their new N-02 collection bringing the lightness and playfulness of a breezy afternoon tea session to life using solid earth materials in a modern, yet elegant way. Inspired by the Japanese Mono-ha movement for their latest collection, the wooden pagoda box inspired furniture allows you to flip, turn, pull, take apart and reconstruct, but most importantly it allows you to re-visit and foster your imagination.
We recently took the time to ask the creative duo some questions about life and their broad spectrum of work within natural and industrial mediums.
YNS: Yellow Nose Studio
MH: Magnus Høst
HYH: Hsin-Ying Ho
KMT: Kai-Ming Tung
MH: How did the two of you meet? Back then, did you share the same ideas for the future when it comes to work?
HYH: We were classmates when we were studying architecture in Taiwan. But the idea to work together came only after we came to Berlin together to study our Master.
KMT: Ying studies Scenography for her Master and I study product design. We want to do something to combine both of our professions, but also based on our backgrounds in architecture. So that’s why we have shown our first collection not just as the products themselves, but as a holistic lifestyle vision.
MH: What kind of families did you grow up in? Were there any life lessons your parents passed down to you?
HYH: My parents have been co-partners and co-workers in a kids’ shoes business for over 20 years. But business is not always as smooth as you want it to be. And you just need to deal with it when it’s up and down. So I think I definitely get this courage from them, which allowed me to start the studio with Kai. And also not taking anything for granted. What we need to do is to be focused on what we are trying to show to people.
KMT: My dad is an engineer and my mom is a teacher. What I learn from them is to really do what you want and be yourself instead of following what people want you to do. So at the beginning of starting Yellow Nose Studio, many people judging the idea. But for me, it’s really simple. We just want to tell the story in our own way with our own pace.
MH: Can you tell us a little bit more about how and when you first became fascinated with architecture? Did anyone or anything in specific inspire you to look away from architecture and to pursue more artistic and design-driven projects?
HYH: We’ve got highly inspired by architecture from our studies at Shih-Chien University back in Taiwan. We were taught to be wild and to make mistakes. It was a really special education system which definitely flipped both of our lives upside down. Architecture is no longer a simple academic topic that we need to learn, but rather a lifelong philosophy that influences us daily.
KMT: So we don’t see us looking away from architecture, but instead using it as a foundation to pursue our aesthetic. We keep trying to bring many different aspects into our projects and to accept the impact that our architectural studies have brought us.
MH: Living and working together. How do you manage to separate your private and professional lives?
HYH: It was HORRIBLE at the beginning. We couldn’t stop talking about work when we were supposed to sit and enjoy a relaxing dinner. We need to force ourselves to switch our focus to more personal matters sometimes.
KMT: Yes, what I need to learn is to shut up at home, and to secretly write down my ideas in a notebook and show it to Ying the next morning!
MH: Does living in Berlin play any role or have any impact on your creative process, on how you design products or tell stories?
HYH: Berlin is a really good place for us to be creative. It’s a big city, but not as busy as the others. We both got highly inspired by it, which shows in the way we work. Sometimes it’s a chair people left on the street to give away, sometimes it’s the texture of a tree that we got fascinated with.
KMT: Berlin has this gap (time and space) somehow in between the city that allows us to recharge.
MH: Finding the perfect balance between the organic and inorganic, the logical and emotional, the handcrafted and the industrial can be difficult. What is the definition of perfection for Yellow Nose Studio and how do you find the balance?
HYH: The way we define perfection is to show the character of the materials themselves. You may see that our furniture are all in industrialized and simple forms, but with the ceramics, we wanted to emphasize the rawness of the clay, so we left the rough details instead of polishing them perfectly. It’s really interesting to see how strong the contrast is between them, but it gives each piece their own character when they are separated.
MH: What are you trying to put into the world with Yellow Nose Studio?
KMT: I think that we are not trying to put something new or big in the world. But if one person got inspired by us, that's all that matters.
MH: At the core of Yellow Nose Studio, the presentations of your products and conceptual storytellings seem to take a significant place. How are you incorporating and communicating the narrative of your collections?
HYH: Storytelling is one of the most important keys when we are creating a collection. We believe that having a story in the works helps people to better understand the product, in a way that they can see themselves in the role that we have created. So building up a scenario and having a “Character” to be shot in our campaigns is really important.
MH: There is a distinct soothing aesthetic direction surrounding your body of work. Is harmony something that is important to you? Why is that so?
HYH: To balance every single object in one scene definitely comes from my scenography background. Kai is the one who always gets some crazy ideas coming out of the blue, but I will be the one to grab each of them into one big picture. The photographer we work with, Bennie Julian Gay, also has this strong soothing aesthetic that we got inspired a lot from, which brings our projects together and enables to tell people the story we initially imagined.
MH: Any upcoming projects, collaborations or expansion of products for 2019 you can enlighten us with?
HYH: We will team up with a German brand based in Berlin for our upcoming projects, which we are really excited about. As we always learn from collaborations, we love how it impacts us and our projects in a more dynamic way.
MH: Where do you imagine Yellow Nose Studio to be in about ten years?
YNS: We haven’t imagined ourselves being anywhere in ten years, but we would be more than happy if we could still keep doing what we are doing now.
All images by Bennie Julian Gay