Danful Yang (b. 1980)

Born in 1980, the young Chinese designer Danful Yang reinvents traditional Chinese art and craft techniques using modern Western materials to create playful and visually dynamic works.

Although she is not formally trained in design, she has worked closely with the internationally renowned designers including Martin Szekely, André Dubreuil, Jurgen Bey, Mattia Bonetti, and Maarten Baas as well as skilled craftsmen, who have contributed to her design education.

The designer’s works have been collected by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Craig Robins (part-owner of Design Miami), and Billie Weisman (The Fredrick R. Weisman Art Foundation).

Her iconic ‘Fake’ armchair is an over-the-top hybrid chair that is an amalgamation of Chinese and western Rococo styles upholstered with fake designer handbags. The creative work is a cross-cultural bombardment of visual stimuli, turning imitation into originality and reflecting the onslaught of a globalised consumer culture.

Yang’s porcelain unicorns explore Chinese traditional craftsmanship and philosophy along with references to the Chinese family dynamics, named ‘Girly’, ‘Daydream’ and ‘Glasses’. ‘Girly’ is a porcelain work which incorporates the shapes of four different flowers – orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum and plum blossom. Traditionally, in Chinese iconography, the grouping of these flowers is called the Four Gentlemen. Each flower represents a specific quality embodied by the model Chinese person; the straightness of the bamboo stem is an indicator of honesty and modesty, the orchard symbolizes elegance and decorum, the chrysanthemum represents moral integrity and the plum blossom embodies resilience, strength of character and steadfastness of ideals.

Yang explores the process and aesthetics of packaging in her stools ‘Packing Me Softly’ and discusses the attitude of the contents and packaging box itself . Most of the time, we focus on the contents of a container and not the box itself, but the box protects the contents we care about while the box does not get the basic respects. In the society , we care about the clean of the city but most of us do not show the respect to the cleaning people. Here, a taped up packing box is remade in fragile silk hand embroidery, infusing a common object with cares and respect.

Devil or Angel is a porcelain wall installation. Normally babies are native and pure , when we see the horrible and disabled babies, people will ask what’s happened, why ? Because of the profits, recourses or politics , the selfish human beings start to have wars , fights, pollutions , if we keep on doing that bad things, our future which is our babies will be suffered in the end. So we need to think about what is the correct thing to do. We can choose to be devil or to be angle for the future. Although it can be used as shelving, the piece is not necessarily functional, as Yang prefers to work in narratives where form does not necessarily follow function.

An artistic process which is reflective of Danful Yang’s cross-cultural experiences in cosmopolitan Shanghai and abroad. Her works are often playful and incorporate objects and materials in unexpected ways.