Zhi Ying is a Chinese silversmith and jewellery designer who looks to the fading memories of childhood as recorded in furniture. Playing with the unique structures and patterns as seen in drawers, porcelain, she tried to narrate her understanding of memory through these conventional knitting techniques and somewhat childlike drawings. Aptly titling her collection weaving memories, her jewellery allows us to discover the beauty of imperfection, and the beauty found in everyday objects. We had the pleasure of speaking with her as part of our December Global Young Talents seen in Harper’s Bazaar UK.
Tell us a bit about yourself, you’re originally from China, yet moved to Scotland to complete a course in Jewellery Design at the Edinburgh College of Art, what inspired you to move overseas and study jewellery design?
I was always interested in seeing how art can be better integrated into everyday life. I discovered that contemporary jewellery design is much like wearable art, which can be both large, small, macroscopic or microscopic, so I started exploring jewellery design.
"I was always interested in seeing how art can be better integrated into everyday life. I discovered that contemporary jewellery design is much like wearable art."
2. Your graduate collection is about the youth generation and identity, what inspired this topic and how is it explored throughout your collection?
The title of the collection is “Where are you from?”. I wanted to represent our generation and the time in which we all live. It is inspired by my surroundings and the process of my growth. I want the collection to be more than just garments, but rather a collection of voices about this new global phenomenon of floating identities. I’ve done this collection in collaboration with 4 of my friends who I have met in London. From the very beginning of the process to the end, they were fully involved. We shared our stories, I then translated these into garments and we each ended up modelling for the final campaign.
3. Your collection is focused around the stories of changing identities of four of your friends, how is their personal narrative interlaced with your work?
My work is all about communicating and making representations of ourselves. For my collection, clothes were more like a uniform. I wouldn’t say the stories were directly interpreted through my design, but rather in the design process. From the fitting to making them wear my garments, their stories and identities are interlaced with every aspect of my work. Through the collection, I wanted to allow people to have a personal attachment to the clothes and feel comfortable in the community we stand for. Anyone who can identify themselves with the stories or understand them can be my hero.
"I want the collection to be more than just garments, but rather a collection of voices about this new global phenomenon of floating identities."
4. Your collection features a relaxed approached to tailored looks, what sets your collection aside in terms of pattern-cutting and craftsmanship?
I wanted my collection to feel as if you are wearing a uniform, more in the sense of something you can wear every day and feeling the best in the present. Therefore, when it comes to the choosing of fabrics and pattern-cutting, I’d tried to listen to the wearer’s opinions on not just clothing but also their lives.
5. What have you learnt during your time at university and what tips do you have for future fashion students?
I believe everyone is in a different position. Every single person went through something different, grew up in the different cultural background, has received education in a different way, thinks differently and obviously has their own specific goals or something they want to achieve. Accordingly, I want to tell them and even to myself, “keep finding what your voice is”, “believe in your intuition”, and “it is a long run”.
"I wanted my collection to feel as if you are wearing a uniform, more in the sense of something you can wear every day and feeling the best in the present."
Discover Zhi Ying's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens