Lee Chia-ying, Taiwan
A designer and inventor rolled into one, Taiwanese designer Lee Chia-ying, 37, is the brainchild behind quirky creations such as Random (a pendant light with two strings that illuminates random orbs with each tug) and In Your Time (a clock that records one’s heart rate through a pulse sensor, and translates it into hours and minutes). In 2011, she founded studio if, a multi-disciplinary outfit specialising in industrial design, physical interaction design, and new media installation. She studied music and computer science, but subsequently enrolled in Italy’s Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. Her passion in homewares was ignited after her first job at the industrial design centre of a consumer electronics company.
Her penchant for storytelling is apparent from her whimsical creations. But more often than not, her designs trigger ‘why didn’t I think of that’ reactions. Clever inventions include Tiktiktik, a table lamp that allows its user to set the length of time the light is on – up to an hour – simply by how far the chain is pulled, and Unfold – a series of wall stickers that incorporate a radio, a lamp and a scent diffuser. Using the concept of origami to create playful transitions between forms, each sticker serves a function when it’s opened up and folded back. For example, the Unfold Radio sticker resembles a gramophone and the folded horn serves as both the switch and volume control for the radio – the further you open up the horn, the louder the volume becomes.
She has also collaborated with the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and JUT Foundation for Arts and Architecture, creating installations such as the Onomatopoeia Typewriter that’s crafted from plywood and acrylic, and the Voice Bubble Machine that produces soap bubbles only when activated by loud voices. Commercially, she has designed for Studio Italia Design and runs a small production of her designs for stores and galleries in Europe, Taipei and Beijing.