10 minutes with...
DESMOND CHANG, Founder of Ruyi and the CEO of Inhesion Asia
Tell us more about RUYI.
RUYI tells the story of eastern culture – its philosophies and wisdom – through five tableware collections. Infini, our maiden series, showcases Taoism. It represents Yin and Yang; the fluid lines are feminine, while porcelain is masculine. Next is the Han Tang collection that's inspired by intricate bronzework and lacquerware from the two dynasties. The Aroma collection speaks of tea, a quintessential part of our culture and will be designed in collaboration with a renowned tea master. The last two are Buddhism (titled Lotus) and Confucianism. I choose these five elements as they are still respected throughout Asia and form the backbone of oriental culture.
How does Infini reflect what chefs are looking for these days?
While it is a short collection of only 12 pieces, it covers what a chef needs. It’s neither square nor round and consists of different depths and openings – a blank canvas to uplift any cuisine. Yet, it is practical. That’s what’s often overlooked. Stackable cups are useful but looks cheap. It’s a fine balance between being unique and pragmatic.
What are your thoughts on the current state of Chinese cuisine? There’s progressive Indian, Peranakan and Thai, but where’s modern Chinese cuisine? The lengthy menu never changes; there’s no omakase-style dining and they don’t go by seasons.
I am optimistic. Western chefs are looking into Chinese ingredients and the meticulous techniques behind, say, the making of crispy duck. It’s going to force Chinese chefs to push their boundaries – whether they like it or not
Everyone needs to refuse to eat an amazing dish served on a plastic plate or a chipped bowl for the sake of knowing “what tastes good”. We are not doing our cuisine justice; we are our own worst enemy. It’s a big step, but it might bring us back to the height of stunningly plated Imperial cuisine of yesteryears.
You've dined at Noma 2.0. What was it like?
Noma 2.0 is the stage to push forth René Redzepi's philosophy. Everything is thought out. The design, from the interiors to the tableware, and the passionate staff tells one story; to respect nature and the feverous search for gastronomy. It represents the new form of luxury, where wind blowing on wild flowers take the place of fresh cut blooms in a vase. It’s intriguing. It’s almost as if it represents the collective urge of humanity to give back, to make up for the guilt of over-consuming.