Young designer and 3-D printing champion, Shawn, or Pei-Chen Yang, culls design inspiration from the trajectory of Lorenz Attractor and Butterfly Effect. His Autumn/Winter 2014 collection shown at London Graduate Fashion Week was inspired by Chaos Theory; yet his design aesthetic is anything but chaotic. While working for an architecture firm – Shawn Yang previously graduated in his native Taipei with a Bachelor’s degree in architecture – Yang decided to try his hand at fashion design. In 2011 he moved to the UK and enrolled in the Art University Bournemouth (AUB). In 2014 he launched down the GFW’s runway his “Infinite Chaos” collection, a chimerical curation of pop-infused colours and keenly honed sculptural silhouettes. Employing creative pattern cutting, computer-generated 3-D printing as well as laser cutting, Yang’s architecture background took a front seat in this collection. Polyvinyl, neoprene cord and acrylic sheet are only some of the materials Shawn employed to create his gravity defying, concentric circle silhouettes and vibrantly coloured garments. The collection offers a playful contrast between the artisanal and the technological, the whimsical and the dramatic.
Shawn, tell us about your degree collection “Infinite Chaos” and the inspiration behind it.
My collection takes inspiration from the Chaos Theory. I looked into the trajectories of Lorenz Attractor, which inspired the silhouette of my six outfits. Each outfit offers an interpretation of the Theory of Chaos. Each has an insignificant centre point which symbolises the beginning of moments in our life. The silhouettes of my collection are generated from these centre points to expand outward infinitely into a spiral, reflecting the unpredictable, nonlinear behaviour and unexpected outcomes described by the Chaos theory.
For this collection I have also created vibrant prints using fractal mathematics. The colour palette was influenced by the work of architect Frank Gehry. A reflective, metallic bronze effect ran throughout the collection to merge with matte greys, brilliant reds, aquamarine and peach.
What was the purpose of the collection? What did you intend to achieve with it?
I wanted to pay my tribute and homage to workmanship, crafting and tailoring. I wanted to incite introspection and reflection on today’s throwaway society; to remind people of the real value that comes from the work and dedication required to create a product.
By interpreting the concept of Chaos theory, I also hoped to express the unpredictability of life – an awareness that any insignificant decision or behaviour we carry out may lead to completely unexpected results.
You speak of a “throwaway society.” Can you elaborate? What factors do you see affecting the fashion industry going forward?
Fast fashion isn’t a new term, but it has made a significant impact on the industry. Fashion retailers keep expanding globally and the impact of fast fashion goes beyond fashion itself, raising environmental and ethical issues. Fast fashion satisfies immediate demands and encourages a throw-away culture.
We must reconsider slow fashion and its values of identity, quality make, and the soft manufacturing process.
Craft traditions and the continuation of brand spirit depend on it.
Each designer has his or her own creative process. Tell us about the key parts of your design process.
I like to start by generating a mass of collages based on concept research and inspiration images. Sourcing fabrics and materials is also vital to kick-starting my designs. I usually look around hardware shops or building material dealers for potential materials at the initial design development stage, rather, than limiting myself to fabric shops.
Experimenting technically with many samples and toiles has also played a vital role in the process of developing details and construction techniques. They enable me to achieve my sculptural aesthetics.
3D printing is gaining momentum in the fashion industry. You have also used this new process. Can you explain how it has contributed to your collection?
Onto both sleeves of the spiral sleeve jacket, I attached two plastic round models. These models were 3-D printed. That was my very first time using a 3D printing technique and applying it onto garments. Before this [collection] I knew nothing about the printer, so the first thing I needed to learn was the computer program – a 3-D software called Rhinoceros. It was a completely new computer software for me. It took me a whole week to read through the online lessons. Fortunately, it wasn’t as complex as I thought and the first 3D computer model was actually completed within three nights … and it worked!
Due to the high cost of the 3D printer, the school workshop technician suggested casting a model instead of printing them all out. Unfortunately, after several casting experiments, the models couldn’t really catch all the details I wanted, so I had to give up and go back to the 3D printer to complete the models. It cost me quite a lot, but I think it was worth. They look exactly the way I had wanted, and had gave the garment a futuristic look with an effect of a sophisticated conflict.
What did you find the most challenging when designing your final collection?
Balancing the materials to give the collection a high-end look, and turned them into wearable crafting pieces was the most challenging aspect.
Time management was also challenging … so many things needed to be considered and experimented with, and it was all happening at the same time. In addition to working in the studio, I spent so much time in the school workshop to make the craft components of each outfit. I nearly ran out of time and worked under high-tension. At one point I thought I wouldn’t finish the collection, but I made it in the end and I’m happy with that.
How do people react to your work? How do their reactions make you feel?
I think I was lucky; but I can’t expect all the reactions to be positive…. there are always some divergent opinions. I see all reactions as a motivation since there are no correct answers, where aesthetics and design are concerned. As new designers, we should be brave enough to challenge the existing boundary and explore new possibilities instead of putting too much attention on the audience’s reaction.
What do you hope to achieve work wise in the next few years?
I very much look forward to working in the industry; in particular, gaining knowledge of the fashion business, expanding my personal network, as well as translating my vision into practice I want to enhance my understanding of how to commercialise a collection and, of course, dedicate the skill set I have acquired from both architecture and fashion.. I am eager to work within high fashion, and certainly want to devote myself to it. I’m not going to launch my own designer label just yet, but look at launching my own label as a long-term career goal. I expect my label will feature high-quality materials blended with Crafting, Architecture and Fashion to create contemporary fresh look with an innovative vision and creative character.