We talk with Wasabii Ng
Wasabii Ng is one of our more recent members, joining Makerversity with a rich repertoire of work behind her, based in Graphic Design and Textiles. She’s a maker, an artist, and a multidisciplinary designer. Her work often proposes speculative scenarios made accessible through interaction and playfulness, approached through a balance of analogue and digital media. Wasabii approaches substantial questions and topics, like are our movements endangered by digitalisation, and responds to them with digestible metaphors. She works with materials, objects and tactility as well as science, social agency and speculation. We caught up with her to find out a bit more about her thought-process, attitude to design and what she’s up to in her practice.
What drives you in your work?
Not understanding how things work, which is guaranteed to keep me busy forever because we never run out of things we don’t know.
What do you think is the value of combining various disciplines like science and design?
Design can act as a facilitator for people to understand more and be involved more. It can bring out the wonder of scientific experiments, which is usually locked up in labs and in specialist jargon. Also, as designers we are used to a more out-of-the box way of thinking, which is not as rigid as most scientists. On the other hand, it is revealing to discover that some of the things we do intuitively as designers can be explained in very precise terms through a scientific experiment. It’s always exciting to combine something very precise and logical with something very creative and playful, and stimulates both brain hemispheres at the same time!
What is your aim at Makerversity?
After graduating from RCA, I moved from London to Rotterdam, and I needed a space to work and make, to keep my hands busy and keep experimenting. It is also important that I can meet a group of like-minded people, not just sharing the space but also working together and even forming collaborations.
What’s your aim in the world of design?
Sometimes designers and architects take themselves too seriously. For my design approach it is important to always maintain an element of play and experimentation. I want to rethink how we design in terms of affordances, and inject more playfulness in every situation – and for that I’ve been studying human movements that are ‘endangered’ because of the digital devices we now use every day. Perhaps we should also think why are we making so much stuff – do we need another designer chair? I think we need instead to focus on design thinking, how design can be integrated within politics, art, everyday life and habits.
What is an important side of design?
It is important to dream, to be able to think of alternatives. Also, despite the hype in virtual and augmented reality, we should not forget that we are so used to touching things all our lives. That is why it is important to use that tactile knowledge and bring design back to the tangible world, to surfaces we can understand and trust.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve started a research project on the aesthetics and sensual values of biomaterials, because I have a big fear of bacteria and I want to conquer that, and I think I’m not the only one. I’m experimenting with mycelium in Mediamatic’s clean lab. I’m trying out different pigments and breeding materials to see if we can come up with materials whose look and feel inspire positive associations and metaphors. I think that relating biomaterials to experiences we already know is the only way to increase their value in the product world. Early next year I will start working on a similar project with the Emerging Materials Lab in TU Delft, and hopefully we’ll be able to establish a connection with Makerversity and organise hackathons etc.
A big thanks to Wasabii, and we’re excited to hear about all her future work!