The first of four featured interviews covering different aedge 2018 artists, this post will reveal more insights into the thoughts and processes of the artists’ behind Worn In. Worn In is created by Megan Miao, Aini Azidah and Georgiana Phua.
The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale. It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a room, with four chambers. A child could walk around it, head high, bending only to step through the valves. The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long.
– Brian Doyle
A living room is a space of presence, a space in which the family comes together, eating, sitting, talking, sleeping. A living room is the space carved out within a home, a space to which the sole purpose is to carry out activities worth living for – moments snatched when the schedules of all family members are suddenly and momentarily in sync, the lulls within busy lives, and the bustling entertainment of guests who have come to stay.
A living room is also a space of absence, where the imprints of bodies piled upon the sofa have left indiscernible scuff marks on leather, quietly, softly, imperceptibly. Within this room are the muffled sounds from behind closed doors, with the only movement that of the light outside creeping along the window grilles.
We wear the spaces within which we live, inhabiting the living room like worn-in loungewear. The living room is only as big as the family members who live in it, who indulge in the comfort and spaciousness of a room dedicated wholly to living. The living room is only as open or closed as their hearts are, to be receptive to the interactions that could be shared within.
Our work takes old clothes and repurposes them into furniture and household objects decorating an imagined living room where the inhabitants become one with their favourite pieces of furniture.
Question & Answer
Q: When did the three of you decide to come together do design these furnitures? How did this common interest come about? Was there any discussion of who to make what – was the workload intentionally split in any manner?
A: We decided to come together when we saw the aedge open call. Aini and Megan had already collaborated on a soft sculpture installation for Park(ing) Day 2017 and Georgiana was making embroidery and textile pieces exploring the IKEA concept and visual language. Aini and Georgiana collaborate regularly on art projects and were familiar with each other’s work, so we immediately saw some common ground for exploration. We did not intentionally set out to design furniture – we merely recognised the common ideas and materials in our own practices and set ourselves a brief to re-interpret the possibilities of furniture. Over time, we discussed in person (twice) as well as over Whatsapp (which was a bit more frequent). We shared our individual ideas on what we wanted to make, as well as gave feedback to each other on ideas. To make the process easier, we “chope-d” certain pieces of furniture we were more interested in making.
Q: During the process of making these goods, did the three of you have a market in mind? Were they designed for a specific profile? What was the ideation process like?
A: We started with thinking about comfort and about our own living spaces, which are customised according to our own needs, aesthetics and aspirations. After working on sketches and brainstorming, we selected a few key pieces. The profile of people who would appreciate our furniture would likely be people with a slightly warped sense of humour (like us!) and who do not mind furniture that is not traditionally “user friendly”. For example, Lepååk, the armchair with many legs sticking out, took inspiration from sinking into a beanbag with your legs sticking out. From there, we imagined what it would be like to duplicate the number of legs and allowing the user to truly become “one with the beanbag”.
Q: Were there times when you had created something you didn’t like? Would you then just start from scratch? How did you overcome the frustration when experienced?
A: Definitely! Since our artwork has a lot of references to the human body, we also ended up making a few pieces that started to look creepy instead of comforting. They fell into the Uncanny Valley, which is humanoid objects that appear almost – but not quite – like actual human beings, which makes people feel discomfort and eeriness. For example, Megan was intending to make a very long arm ending in hands, but the fingers were misshapen and the piece was quickly tossed aside. Such moments are definitely frustrating, because the tendency is to see it as time “wasted”. Having a collaboration allows us to see the humour in such situations, and offer suggestions about how “failed” pieces can make their way into the final work. Georgiana had also discarded several fabric pieces that did not turn out quite as she had hoped, because the colours and materials did not go well together. We learn from the bad works and start over by “correcting” or even dumping the idea altogether. That said, the long arm was eventually discarded because it was simply horrific.
Q: What do you hope for the audience to walk away with after viewing your work?
A: We hope for the audience to walk away with curiosity and appreciation for furniture. It is definitely difficult to re-imagine household items like a sofa or a chair cushion, but just because a certain form is commonly used does not mean that it is the best for you! We customise our wardrobe, our choice of stationery, our desktop, and it does not make sense for homes to be standardised or like everyone else’s. We also hope that our audience would consider the idea of a living space and a space of the living, and what would make it so. Another thing we want the audience to walk away with is the sense that artworks do not have to be held at arm’s length, at whichever stage of the process. The process of creating art is so incredibly tactile that perhaps it makes sense to think about art as furniture, as a form of expression but also something to be used, tested and reinvented.
Q: What would you say to an individual who is struggling to find inspiration or motivation to make art?
A: Collaborate! Having people to bounce ideas off is really the easiest thing one can do to kickstart the process. It can help to introduce new ideas, as well as new ways to make art. We also learn from each other. Setting common deadlines is also another way to add motivation and accountability, because it means that you have something to work towards together. Another way is to start looking at the design processes of big companies and see if they can be applied to produce something new and unexpected. Art is all about unexpected moments and learning as you go along.
Artists’ Sketches/in-progress images
Previous work presented at Park(ing) Day 2017: old clothes sewn together and stuffed with styrofoam beads. A similar technique will be used for this work.
Fabric samples for artwork: a variety of different recognisable fabrics often found in homes.
Artists: Aini Azidah, Georgiana Phua and Megan Miao