You may not consider knots as being something aside from a technique to tie one thing up or the annoying factor that occurs to your necklaces once they get twisted up, however there’s a complete different world on the market and it entails fiber artist Windy Chien. After stints at Apple and proudly owning her personal indie file store in San Francisco, Windy discovered her calling bringing aesthetics to the center of perform, science, and historical past to spotlight what’s most intriguing about knots, and that’s the journey of the road. You might recall she spent 2016 studying a brand new knot day-after-day of the 12 months for The Yr of Knots, which she now shows on her studio partitions blended amongst a sea of works in numerous phases of progress and dimension. Right this moment, we pop into her San Francisco studio situated on the second ground of the Heath Ceramics tile manufacturing facility to see her artwork and area on this The place I Work.
What’s your studio/work setting like?
Serene, cozy, and clear. I’m usually taking part in music and podcasts, and my rescue greyhound, Shelley Duvall, comes with me to the studio every day.
How is your area organized/organized?
My studio is a non-public 1000-square-foot area with its personal road entrance. It’s an enormous open area. One wall is all enormous home windows, and I retailer my spools of rope and cordage in an extended row beneath the home windows. One other wall, made of 4 sheets of plywood suspended above the ground, holds The Yr of Knots, which is the mission I did in 2016 the place I discovered one new knot day-after-day of the 12 months. It’s an set up of 366 knots that capabilities as my palette and foremost useful resource, the identical manner a designer or painter might need a Pantone deck.
Scattered all through the area are seven pairs of pulleys hanging from rafters off the 20’ pitched ceiling, the place I droop every bit whereas I’m making it. I elevate and decrease the works whereas working, and that is how I deal with my physique whereas enacting the repetitive, bodily motions of knotting.
Your entire ground is roofed in vivid white, wall-to-wall, fake fur carpet. I’m a toddler of the 1970s, so wall-to-wall carpeting is my completely satisfied place, however there’s a sensible purpose for it too: my commonplace materials is white cotton rope, which picks up filth the second it hits a hardwood ground. With the white shag, I can throw my supplies on the ground and know they’ll keep clear.
I’m usually engaged on a number of commissions without delay, together with experimenting on one-off items which is my mind-set with my fingers. With that a lot exercise, all the pieces will need to have a spot. I can’t be productive in chaos.
How lengthy have you ever been on this area? The place did you’re employed earlier than that?
I’ve been upstairs at Heath Ceramics since January 2020. Earlier than that I spent three years in a mid-century police station. My studio there was the previous police captain’s workplace! It was a cool area, however it didn’t have the robust, excessive ceilings crucial for me to simply make giant works, that are all I do these days.
Being a part of the Heath Ceramics neighborhood is a dream come true. Being round like-minded, artistic folks is extremely motivating and optimistic. They’ve been past useful with sharing assets comparable to their delivery & receiving division, safety, communal kitchen, and so on.
For those who may change one thing about your workspace, what would it not be?
It’s really excellent right here; the one factor I’d ultimately take into account is a little more area. I’m going to rent a studio supervisor this 12 months to deal with admin, and am having to assume arduous about learn how to have multiple particular person on this place that appears like my sanctuary.
Is there an workplace pet?
Sure, my greyhound Shelley Duvall comes with me to the studio day-after-day.
Do you require music within the background? If that’s the case, who’re some favorites?
I owned/operated an unbiased file retailer (Aquarius Data) for 14 years, so my tastes run far, extensive, and obscure. A few of my favourite genres are Brazilian tropicalia, Ethiopian jazz, Jamaican rocksteady, Italian prog, outlaw nation, German kosmiche krautrock, and extra. It’s painful to decide on just one, however for years my reply was Os Mutantes, the psychedelic pop trio from late 1960s Brazil, who seemed like Sgt Peppers however stunningly bizarre.
How do you file concepts?
I conduct my whole enterprise on my iPad. For concepts and sketches, I take advantage of the apps Paper and ProCreate. For lists and textual content, I take advantage of Evernote.
What’s your typical work model?
I arrive at my studio round 10am and attempt to work on a present piece instantly, or I open certainly one of my dusty previous sailors knotting tomes to study a brand new knot. I imagine within the idea of circulation, which is the state of blissful productiveness, the place you’re working on the edges of your talents, fortunately, with none exterior reward; the reward is inherent within the doing of the factor. Being in circulation is one of the best ways to begin a day as a result of it makes me really feel so good. I keep away from e-mail till the afternoon.
What’s your artistic course of and/or artistic workflow like? Does it change each mission or do you retain it the identical?
I work nearly completely by fee and there’s a ready checklist. Shoppers select amongst my a number of present our bodies of labor, every of which sprang from a single, beautiful knot and my want to seek out its final expressive potential, to blow it up and provides it a higher aesthetic life. We consider knots as practical, and certainly I’d say the overwhelming majority of the virtually four,000 documented knots are practical, however together with the tradition, historical past, and science behind every perfectly-designed knot, I see them as aesthetic objects. My aim is to convey a higher consciousness to the aesthetics of knots and, by extension, to discover the journey of the road.
With that stated, whereas I take pleasure in making my current our bodies of labor, I imagine each knot is ready for me to seek out its most expressive potential, so I’m all the time searching for durations of free time the place I can experiment with new works. I’ll by no means run out of curiosity or issues to discover. I don’t get creatively blocked.
What sort of artwork/design/objects would possibly you will have scattered in regards to the area?
It’s all my very own work, my sailors knotting books, my supplies, no matter work is in progress, and all of the experiments. I’ve a beautiful assortment of artworks made by others, however I hold all of
that at house.
Are there instruments and/or equipment in your area?
I used to be not too long ago given a non-electric, rope-making ‘machine’ (by Schacht Spindle), and am wanting ahead to creating my very own rope. I’ve a glue gun, however attempt to keep away from it as a lot as attainable. I’m a purist, and utilizing glue appears like taking the simple manner out when certainly a knot will do.
What software(s) do you most take pleasure in utilizing within the design course of?
Sharp scissors and bent needle-nose pliers.
Let’s speak about the way you’re wired. Inform us about your tech arsenal/gadgets.
I labored at Apple for a few years, from the early years of iTunes, to the launch of iPhone and iPad and the App Retailer. So I’m tremendous savvy with all the Apple ecosystem. It’s simply designed so fantastically, with the consumer in thoughts, and with an beautiful design logic. I take advantage of my iPad completely, with iPhone for Instagram and picture processing.
What design software program do you utilize, if any, and for what?
My work wants solely the sketching and drawing apps listed above. Often, I’ll open my previous MacBook to make use of SketchUp, which annoyingly has not made it to the App Retailer but, for sophisticated tasks that profit from a 3D mannequin.
What’s in your desk proper now?
A dozen scissors, historical knotting books, and numerous Doughnut and Star Knots.
Is there a favourite mission/piece you’ve labored on?
I may by no means select between all my infants, however a favourite latest mission is the debut of a brand new physique of labor, the Hitching Posts. That is put in in Las Vegas.
Inform us a couple of present mission you’re engaged on. What was the inspiration behind it?
I not too long ago made a Linescape for Sq., the funds firm based mostly within the Bay Space. They needed one thing bridge-inspired, so I used a really curly knot that’s fairly counterintuitively good for creating sharp angles and straight strains. We did it in a shade near Worldwide Orange, the colour of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Do you will have something in your house that you simply’ve designed/created?
I personal a traditional San Francisco-style Victorian, and I put the primary Helix Mild Chandelier in my bay window. I additionally designed the paint scheme within the attic, which is 1970s-style lengthy strains working at angles alongside the pitched ceiling, and finished utilizing the Pendleton Glacier Park stripes. I designed the outside paint scheme of the home – horizontal ombré stripes working yellow-orange-red on the entrance and yellow-green-blue within the yard.
Pictures by Windy Chien.