Ed­mund Zhang, in­dus­trial de­signer

Esquire (Singapore) - - Feature -

Zhang was the win­ner of Wall­pa­per* mag­a­zine’s Hand­made Next Gen­er­a­tion Sin­ga­pore De­signer for Squeezy, a sim­ple desk­top lamp that il­lu­mi­nates with a squeeze.

Craft to me is a phys­i­cal and in­tel­lec­tual rigour that pushes the bound­aries of a par­tic­u­lar idea, skill or piece of work. I have been find­ing dif­fer­ent av­enues to ex­press my­self since young. I remember fill­ing up ev­ery space and cor­ner of my school text­books with doo­dles and mon­sters—much to the teacher’s dis­plea­sure. I have loved to draw since I was a kid and I still have my col­lec­tion of self-made comic books, which were heav­ily in­spired by the car­toons that I was watch­ing then. For me ul­ti­mately, it has al­ways been about the idea of the work. As long as the idea is in­ter­est­ing, it is more about find­ing the right ma­te­rial and medium that best com­mu­ni­cates it.

When de­sign­ing, I do not see my works ex­ist­ing as inan­i­mate ob­jects, but be­ings that are alive with their own char­ac­ter and sto­ries to tell. All of my works are equally mem­o­rable and sat­is­fy­ing to me—I do not have favourites. Sin­ga­pore is a prag­matic coun­try and de­sign here has rapidly shifted into a busi­ness-ori­ented and profit-driven ap­proach. We are in a con­stant state of change. This is some­thing that we have to get com­fort­able with and em­brace so that we can al­ways stay rel­e­vant to what is hap­pen­ing around us and not ex­ist within our own bub­ble. I feel that my work has not reached that level of na­tion-wide im­pact yet. For now, I just hope that my works can of­fer peo­ple a slightly more re­fresh­ing per­spec­tive of look­ing at things around them.

I am in­ter­ested in the chal­lenge of hu­man­is­ing tech­nol­ogy—to make it a lit­tle more sat­is­fy­ing to use—as it grad­u­ally as­sim­i­lates into ev­ery facet of our lives, whether we like it or not. I en­joy the speed and convenience af­forded by dig­i­tal man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques, such as 3D print­ing, and have in­cor­po­rated them in a cou­ple of my projects. Tan­gi­ble craft does mat­ter be­cause we are sen­so­rial crea­tures. I be­lieve that the ex­pe­ri­ence of in­ter­act­ing with some­thing through our phys­i­cal senses be­yond a mere screen is al­ways rel­e­vant and ex­tremely pow­er­ful.

As with any other things in life that are worth pur­su­ing, de­sign and cre­ative work should al­ways be seen as a marathon, not a sprint. Work hard, be pa­tient and try to en­joy the scenery while you are at it. I hope that the de­sign in­dus­try in Sin­ga­pore can con­tinue to grow in strength, with lo­cals be­ing able to be more ap­pre­cia­tive of good de­sign. What’s next for me? I am working on a de­sign in­stal­la­tion project with my friends. We are util­is­ing plas­tic waste found near wa­ter sources, such as beaches and reser­voirs, to even­tu­ally cre­ate a series of sculp­tural seascapes.

Ed­mund Zhang’s Squeezy lamp in­creases in bright­ness the more it’s squeezed.

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