Cultured Magazine

June/July 2015

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Multimedia artist Elaine Ng Yan Ling— one of this year's Swarovski Designers of the Future Award winners—reaches in all directions. Through her textile research studio, The Fabrick Lab, she creates materials applied from interior design to automotive. Throughout her projects, Ling emphasizes that "materials need to express themselves functionally and not just as decoration." Ling discovered smart materials while earning her master's in textile futures at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Her studies began in fashion, earning her a Bachelor of Arts in weaving, but in graduate school, she was encouraged to pursue textile design. She takes a scientist's approach to research and production, while maintaining a naturalist's appreciation for what Ling calls "nature's technology." Observations of caged birds, for example, are explored in a collection of woven metal fabrics in Diffused Movement, where wing and feather are re-imagined in curtain-like surfaces for interior spaces. In her Naturology collection, on view last summer at Barcelona's FADfest, clusters of fabric and laser-cut wood panels expand and contract, animated by changes in external conditions. By integrating shape-memory polymers that react to external stimuli, data is transformed into performance. "With both natural and manmade materials, I'm creating objects that echo and augment the movements of nature," says Ling. "I want to make it a bit magical." Such magic is apparent in the atmospheric elements she employs to design with: a current of air, a ray of light or a change in humidity pushes form toward new expression. "Art breaks down boundaries, bringing design and science together." And how does an artist learn to speak the language of science and engineering? "To start, I bought a few books and picked up some key words," Ling says, and "I experiment with materials and sketch in a logbook. Engineers like numbers and videos, not sketches—at least, their sketch and my sketch are very different." It is through this interpretation that Ling hopes to create art that offers a "poetic experience that interacts with the senses," she says, and one that harnesses technology for social change. Working with local weavers in South China, Ling is fostering sustainable cottage industries by connecting traditional craft with an urban marketplace. Ling, with fellow winners Tomás Alonso and Studio Swine's Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami, will exhibit their work at Design Miami/Basel in June. 120 CULTURED PHOTO COURTESY OF ELAINE NG YAN LING A SENSE OF PLACE Artist Elaine Ng Yan Ling, one of this year's Swarovski Designers of the Future, brings her experimental textile works to Design Miami this June. BY DANA SIMPSON The designer fuses electronics and biomimicry to create new materials and other wordly installations.

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