Long Story Short
Yeh Design Lab was founded in 2005 by Yi-Hsiu Yeh, an architect in Los Angeles. The lab is created to bridge architecture & fashion by exploring the roles of small-scale wearable objects as message carrying media and their relations with human body. Yeh Design Lab is interested in combining advanced technology and traditional fabrication as a means to unconventional transformations of materials.
Short Story Long by Yi-Hsiu Yeh
While working on my architecture school graduate thesis, a friend introduced me to a book called Flatland. Written by Sir Edwin A. Abbott and published in 1884, Flatland invites its readers to consider the outrageous possibilities of space beyond three-dimensions. The novel accomplishes this by portraying the perceptual limitations of the inhabitants of a two dimensional world who are unable to imagine, and do not want to imagine, the third dimension. The importance of this fable lies not in its literal explication of geometrical and dimensional issues but as a cautionary tale about a collective complacency in culture, and by extension, all of life. Ever since then, I have been interested in through my work devising ways of challenging common sense, collective intuition and perception.
During the years of practicing architecture, it dawned on me that even though buildings can have substantial impact on people, its service is limited to the people who come to experience them. In order to expand the reach that my work could have, I became interested in exploring the territory of consumable and wearable products as a message bearing medium. I imagined the creation of products as art-in-disguise, clandestinely infiltrating and transforming the lives of the people who use them. Yeh Design Lab was thus created, incorporating my experience from teaching design studios in Woodbury University.
Within each of our product, the training I had as architect is tangibly manifested in their volumetric transformation, tactile engagements with the human body, and the use and function by the consumer. Volumetric transformation is an evident feature of many of the wristwears and the Bags. In the case of the wristwear, as the flat material forms around the wearer’s wrist, micro planar geometry is maintained in the internal facet level, creating texture and reflecting light and colors.
Utilizing technology as a transformative engine, the materiality our product is engaged, amplified and critiqued. An expanding array of techniques including: Rubber Casting, Leather Forming, Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM), Laser Cutting, CNC Routing, Felt Molding and 3D Printing have been employed in the creation of my products working with a palette of natural materials: leather, bird feathers, wool felt, paper, metal, rubber and wood. The resulting work occupies a tense and sensual intersection between these primitive materials and the advanced methods through which they are produced and assembled. The “Petals” necklace, for example, constructed out of over a hundred laser-cut leather pieces, is hand-assembled and soaked in the warm water to allow each petal to curl up and the connectors to swell up to form tighter joints. The “Hadid” clutch bag is made with boiled vegetable tanned leather formed around a CNC milled mold, following the techniques of ancient leather armor making. To bring our awareness to everyday materials through the displacement of their applications, the “Basketball” bag is made out of a flat piece of basketball leather, custom tanned by the material supplier of NCAA footballs and basketballs.
As objects available to the consumer all these products are conceived to satisfy the requirements of function, style and tactile pleasure. But while these products engage desire and delight, their fundamental and veiled purpose is to challenge and provoke. Much like the main character in Flatland faced with the choice between engagement and avoidance of concepts beyond his native imagination, these wearable explorations invite the user to question the world around them.