Knotting destiny is a project based on the symbol of the endless knot. The core of its meaning lies in the Tibetan concept of tendrel — everything in existence are connected by “dependence and conditionality”. All occurrences and experience are determined by karma, the causes and conditions from past affecting the present and future. The cyclic nature of birth, death and rebirth gives our spirit its timelessness nature, which expands to a huge network of possibilities as illustrated by the symbol of the endless knot. As we widen our perception, symbols are used to create meaningful connections between contrastingly separate ideas which would otherwise be empty of its own existence. Ch’i (or qì) is the essence and “flow of spirit” required for interactions between independent matter. The endless knot symbolising these worldly relations and appearances, is a manifestation of ch’i, obtaining equilibrium as the forces flows and distribute through the vessels. Ideas about interconnectivity are reflected in Chinese macramé, where the tying of a knot refers to the binding destiny in luck and spirit.

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The deliverable is a gift set that consists of: (1) a guided map using the symbol of endless knot, (2) a research and concept booklet, (3) an endless knot bracelet.

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The endless knot was dissected in the guided map to narrate the journey of an existing being. Notion of karma is explained through the spreads and tendrel, fulfilled by ch’i, reveals itself as the stack of cards release into a diagram of the eternal knot. The images above gives a view of some individual spreads and the enlarged version of knot.

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The research and concept booklet is a comprehensive and textual-based. The visual language of red dots and white lines previously used in the guided map is translated and composed based on the nature of content.

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The endless knot bracelet is a physical object that blesses the recipient when it is being worn. In the words of Robert Beer, an experienced writer on Tibetan symbolism, the endless knot links the giver and recipient in good relations, and create favourable conditions for good experiences to occur for the recipient. The endless knot when tied on the wrist of a person, resonates with the pulse of the heartbeat, its auspiciousness assimilated by the wearer with the flow of ch’i.

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To wear is to aspire and to embody. Kindling appropriates the traditional representation of bird motifs into a contemporary embodiment of symbolism yet preserving the universal semiotics of birds.

Inspired by bird motifs used in Javanese batik, this project is a contemporary interpretation on the artistry and universal symbolic meaning of birds across cultures. To transcend is an artist’s journey of understanding and practicing a craft. It is a culmination of moments taken for the artist to reach its final product. To ‘wear’ these bird motifs by means of shadow-tattoos highlights the intimacy and desire to attain the heavenly qualities associated with birds. Permanence, which is hinged on the idea that change is constant, is achieved with the play of light and shadows, accentuating the omnipresence of each elements providing each other its existence.

Garuda/Naga is a metaphorical abstract piece, exploring the relationship between mythical creature Garuda (Sun Bird) and Naga (Sea Serpent) through the symbol of oil and water respectively.
Water is an associative symbol of Naga, whereas oil represents the heat and fire of Garuda.

Both of these elements represent two strong opposing force and being unable to mix with each other, water and oil mimics the endless struggle between Garuda and Naga.

Set against Charles Stein’s poem about Naga’s animosity towards Garuda, the visual of water and oil in the video portrays the serpent’s behavior to get away from hostile environment that is heavily associated with Garuda.
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Medium: Oil, Water, Food Coloring, Effervescent Tablet

Music: Gamelan Nyai Saraswati – Bubaran Udan Mas & Peliatan Gamelan – Kapi Radja Ape King

DV3004: Cultural Context in Asian Design
School of Art, Design and Media
Nanyang Technological University

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Mock poster for the the video screening

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<<宁静致远>> Tranquil Transcendence pursues the stimulated experience of ascension from the terrestrial realm through the performance of music for its listeners. The theme of transcendence was initially derived from the cultural meaning of the traditional phoenix symbol, due to its association with flight, harmony and many other cultural meanings across Asian cultures. Many associations between the phoenix and music have been established throughout Chinese history.

True form of a man-bird once successfully imagined in the mind will stimulate his sensation of flying – for envisioned mountain then transfer qi to him, lighten his body and lead him to heaven
-Man-bird Mountain of Taoism, Susan Huang

The project is a contemporary exploration of traditional Asian design and Chinese music as a unifying representation of Asian culture. Derived from the idiom <<宁静致远>>, where “宁静” refers to “tranquility” which is associated with the notion of meditation in which many Asian  cultures practice in order to derive ways to free their worries and burdens of the terrestrial realm. This is often achieved through a long process of self-exploration and journey, in which the second pair of words “致远” refers to. Translated simply as “ambitions that aim high”, it refers to the journey of mental patience in which one may finally achieve his ascension.

This proposed concert presents the Chinese instrument, sheng, as the central melody. The sheng instrument is an emblem of creation of the Nu-wa, representing the sound and form of the heavenly bird and various symbolic meanings to it, hence the best instrument to represent the transcendence of phoenix.

Branding collaterals have been created for the concert where each design item carries metaphors reflecting the notion of Tranquil Transcendence. This includes a publicity poster, concert booklet addressing the concept and the program of the concert, a post-concert CD album, as well as the concert tickets for the event.

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The concert poster carries the main design concept. The four motifs, which represents the four states of motion from rest to ascension, reflects the intention of the concert to liberate the mind of the audience through its program.

The color scheme for the concert has been carefully selected to present a contemporary interpretation of Chinese colors and the red phoenix using magenta, orange and yellow.

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The concert booklet unravels as an accordion flow to allow the exploration of typography and text along the spread to reflect the motion of ascension as well as the music transition in an orchestra.

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The CD album has been meticulously crafted to continue the typography play in the concert booklet. It carries the repertoire of the concert for the audience to purchase and bring home this transcendental experience.

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As for the ticket, it has been designed to be intimate for the audience. Once again focusing on the typography play as seen above, the ticket also embodies the action of tearing off the ticket stub as a disposal of terrestrial burdens upon entering the concert hall.

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Balance is inspired from the Chinese traditional motif- The Paired Carp. The traditional motif signifies happiness and abundance and is a rendition of the Yin and Yang energies, qualities sought after dearly in marriage.

The ring also embodies the spirit of The Paired Carp when they swim towards one another. This act symbolizes the union of two hearts, bodies and souls.

This ring collection consists of 6 rings, all made of gold. Each ring is embedded with different gemstones to reflect every 10 years of one’s marriage.

 

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The deliverable consists of a mock up of the ring, packaging for the ring and a catalogue. 

The packaging is designed to provide an experience akin to unwrapping of gifts. The user slides down two slits to arrive at the ring. Accompanying the packaging is a catalogue to provide an explanation of the symbolism of the gemstones and anniversaries.

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The Peranakan culture is a colourful, vibrant and unique to only the Southeast Asian region. Rama Rama is a gold necklace piece, inspired from the Peranakan culture.

The term Rama Rama and the Chinese characters Hu Die, refer to the butterfly in the Malay and Mandarin language accordingly. The butterfly represents the idea of change and metamorphosis; which truly speaks about the essence of the Peranakan culture– when both the Chinese and Malay culture intertwine to form this new rich and vibrant Peranakan culture we have today.

This statement piece is for the new generation to embrace this timeless culture of old. Where old is now the new; don’t you think?

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Painstakingly hand-painted, Rama Rama’s packaging is adorned with these printed motifs inspired by the Peranakan culture.

The term ‘butterfly’ is expressed in both Mandarin and Malay to reflect the fusion of the 2 cultures together and this is put across strongly through the frontal font located in the centre of the cover; bring across the idea clearly to the viewer.

Underneath the cover, lies the story behind the birth of Rama Rama. From the designer to you, it is almost akin to leaving a note behind which adds a personal touch to the package.

Finally, in the centre of the package lies a soft cushion lined with lush velvet. This holds the Rama Rama necklace piece, presenting it to the viewer with subtle extravagance.

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