Design, can we speak our own culture in a world language
Can we speak of our own culture?
The traditional everyday, the sacred, the regional and the customary festivals.
Can we use the rationality of modern design
Can we use the rationality of modern design to form an expression of our own culture alone?
福舟椅 FOOCHOW CHAIR
Deconstructing traditional dragon boat culture.
Make a chair of the moment
With its simple and clear lines and almost no superfluous structure, the Fu Zhou Chair instantly gives a sense of its "Chinese interpretation". This is an attempt by Zee Yin: when we use a more contemporary design language to interpret the traditional dragon boat culture, the form is only the simplest and most direct composition left, but the folklore is more simple and resonant.
In order to be more in line with modern life scenarios, we have also changed the form of the Fu Zhou chair into different seating functions, suitable for restaurants, living rooms and bars.
How should a Chinese design brand interpret its own culture?
Ziinlife 的主創設計師生長在中國，又有著意大利的留學背景，在思考在地文化與設計語言關係的過程中，有了更多的角度。我們想到了丹麥設計師Hans J. Wegner的China Chair。這把以中國圈椅為靈感而設計的椅子，雖有東方的元素，但又完全是西方的設計表達。
Ziinlife's designs are highly functional, but the source often comes from our thoughts on inner spirit and emotion. As a Chinese design brand, we are always thinking about how to express our identity and culture through design. The Fuzhou chair is a new reflection on this proposition.
In order to have a spiritual core, the design needs to be expressed from the inside out. The traditional elements of Chinese furniture, such as mortise and tenon, bamboo and wood, and squareness, if directly transplanted into modern life, seem to us to be less in-depth. We hope to find a more relevant design language to reinterpret the familiar land we are in.
Fuzhou is such an interesting city, can we talk about it in terms of products?
In 2019, the Squeaky Voice Design Museum also opened in Fuzhou. The design team visited Fuzhou frequently to reacquaint themselves with the "local culture" that is still alive.
Under the guidance of HOMELAND Home, a magazine focusing on local city culture, we got to know more about the dragon boat culture of Fuzhou.
In Fuzhou, dragon boating is a daily routine. The "Dragon Boat Club" is full of ordinary young people. Every year around the Dragon Boat Festival, the sound of slogans yelling on the river means the start of training. From dragon boat making, purchasing to competition, an inner cycle of city culture is formed, and traditional culture naturally survives in the city.
The dragon boat culture is traditional and old, yet fresh and interesting. We take the local culture of the city as the source, but at the same time, we try to look at the tradition from the perspective of modern design.
Designing a chair
We decided to make a chair from the very beginning.
In Fuzhou's dragon boat culture, there is an interesting phenomenon related to chairs. Because of the popularity of the dragon boat custom, many dragon boat racing teams now have sponsors, and this kind of patronage allows a traditional culture to have a healthy existence and cycle.
At the same time, traditional culture has also evolved: In the old days, the dragon boat in Fuzhou had a chair at the head of the dragon, which often belonged to the person who was elected by the people and had prestige. Nowadays, this position often belongs to the sponsor.
We were struck by the fact that these customs are not a part of the museum's history, but are still alive in the city, and the idea of designing a chair was confirmed.
At the same time, when we visited the dragon boat village, we found that dragon boat making and furniture making have something in common - the same wood is used as the main material and there are various kinds of basic structures. The only thing is that the manufacturing process and machinery of dragon boats are more traditional.
Interestingly, because they are familiar with the woodworking process of dragon boats, people in the village also make simple wooden furniture by themselves, and even create some very practical and "folk-wise" structural forms.
The idea of re-expressing the chair in a modern wood structure was also planted in the designer's mind.
Use modern design vocabulary to create eastern sentences
Traditional Chinese culture often has complex elements and deep roots, while modern design is simple and straightforward, premised on industrialized manufacturing. This time, Ziinlife tried to find a subtle common ground between the two.
In this process, we are reminded of the Dutch School, the most representative of modernist design, which advocates the use of pure geometric lines and colors to express the spiritual core, avoiding the use of any figurative elements.
We have preserved the most original and simple cultural features felt in Fuzhou, but at the same time simplified it. Therefore, the most distinctive visual feature of the Fuzhou chair is the simple lines. At the same time, we have deliberately avoided delicate roundness and used clean lines to convey a sense of rustic power.
In the end, the chair was "naturally oriental" when the sketch was completed, and its structural form and details are full of Western rational simplicity.
Use, should also be more in line with modern life
When deepening the specific shape of the chair, we consider more the experience of use. Therefore, we repeatedly deliberate on the scale of the chair according to ergonomics, consider the relationship between the seat and backrest, and continuously adjust to achieve a relatively comfortable effect.
In the choice of materials, we hope to use the wood that Chinese people are most familiar with, to carry out the pure expression of local culture.
The chair is made of white oak, which has a solid texture and good feel, allowing people to directly feel the texture of the wood. At the same time, the surface is painted with environmentally friendly water-based lacquer and anodized chemical to present the beautiful wood grain under the original wood color and black color of the chair.
Direct manufacturing process based on design approach
The simple structure and language were determined at the beginning of the sketch. Therefore, the Dragon Boat Chair is a product that can be produced quickly and in bulk. It takes into account and utilizes the advantages of modern design and industrial mass production so that the design can reach more people's lives.
The chair was designed with the production process in mind, so that the internal structure contains mortise and tenon joints, but can be directly mechanized for easy processing and production.
It has a relatively pure structure with mortise and tenon joints that can be mechanically realized. It is also fully packaged so that it can be experienced without installation after being transported to your home.
According to the suitability of the restaurant, living room or commercial space, we also adjusted the proportional relationship of each version of the FuZhou chair, forming three forms of dining chairs, sofa chairs and bar chairs.
The Fuzhou chair is our attempt to interpret local culture in a more contemporary design language. It is not just a piece of design, we hope it can be used by more people.
Foodchow Lounge Chair