The China List: Michael Young, Industrial Design
Wallpaper* and China’s Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development Fund (CHSDF) present China By Design—a celebration of Chinese cultural heritage and the many global creatives who have been inspired by it. Explore the full list here.
Michael Young’s broad portfolio of interests covers every facet of industrial design but he retains a keen focus on technology, old and new. His peripatetic studio has now settled in Hong Kong, following stints in the UK (where he studied, at Kingston University) and Iceland.
No one project defines the Young aesthetic, but he is adept at tapping a vein of uncluttered but evocative forms, giving the studio’s output a timeless feel. From watches to speakers, ceramics to sofas, furniture and lighting, Young’s creative approach transcends the apparent limitations of the materials used. ‘China has been a playground,’ says Young of his experiences there. ‘I have worked directly with a lot of factories that are not bound by marketing directives per se. The result has been a freedom to work with engineers and focus on process rather than brand management with a view to create philosophies.’
New products like the ‘Tea’ chair, part of a collection for the Chinese lifestyle brand Zens, showcase his cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural approach, with a special laminated wood structure that was relatively new to the region’s manufacturers. ‘We always work to reach objectives that come from the clients,’ he explains. ‘This creates the journey – there are always parameters which are what the factory or artisan can do; we interpret this in our work.’
Commissioned by Beijing’s Gallery All, his My collection demonstrates how process and traditional craft acts as a jumping off point for new work. Young combined the aesthetic of the Northern Chinese decorative technique of cloisonné with digital processes, creating geology-inspired furniture from stainless steel and ceramic. ‘The strengthening ties between local industry and design result in work that transcends design by harnessing some of the highest and most innovative manufacturing skills to create industrial art.’§