British-born but Hong Kong-based industrial designer Michael Young has built up a formidable presence in Asia, where he has produced products for titans like EOps,
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, Lacoste, Swedese and Dupont Corian. But for his current show he has taken time out from the conveyor belt to create a series of one off sculptures and handcrafted pieces. 'I started out making one offs in London, as it was all that one could make back then, but it was a passion,' he says. 'After years of mass production, it's refreshing to go back to my roots and play a little.'
Young has approached this 'play' time, however, with characteristic rigour. Working in China has opened him up to new manufacturing expertise, which he has grasped to create his latest body of work. On show at The Cat Street Gallery's epic new addition, The Space (the largest multi-purpose art venue in central Hong Kong), are pieces with complex geometric forms made from difficult processes like lost wax gravity injection, such as the honeycomb-like 'Hex' chair, and using 3D CNC technology, such as the pixelated 'Psi Tower'.
Also in the exhibition is a series of glass pieces created for Tittot, inspired by the mathematics of ancient Chinese building techniques, which Young has combined 'with some rather complex computer work to make modern abstractions'. Creating the multi-facetted designs and maintaining their sharpness pushed the process of lost wax casting to its limits, and was achieved with a lot of trial and error. 'The process for making the glassware is extremely long, complicated and totally handmade,' says his studio. 'Every step needs undivided attention.'
The show also marks the launch of a new monograph on the designer, also titled Works in China, penned by John Heskett, which charts projects that span from watches for O.D.M., to chairs for Swedese and a polo shirt for Lacoste. In it, Young frankly reveals how his battle to read and write at school helped fuel his interest in design and industry. 'It drove me to find perfection within a logic that existed elsewhere, in a language of objects and processes that were tactile and not metaphysical,' he says. 'This journey has been the education I never had.'