YI ZHOU | SENTIMENTAL SCULPTURES
Delivering an anatomic narrative with an eccentric twist, Beijing-born designer Yi Zhou offers design with a personalised touch. The Central Saint Martins graduate lives her life absorbing her surroundings and applying it into her captivating jewellery design collections with a strong sense of creativity.
Inspired by a number of nostalgic objects from the 1980’s, the Chinese designer reminisces on the whimsical coloured patterns of her childhood memories. With a stark appreciation for the amenities of her adolescence such as the enamel crafted traditional washbasins and cups, the talented artist values products that are unpretentious yet essential to daily life.
The latest collection “Body Memory” examines the relationship between the wearer and the body. While the body is subject to constant change, Yi places importance on retaining physical memories. By offering a customised service for those who wish to retain an intimate record of their body, the talented designer also collects the story behind each construction. Later transforming the piece into a stylish accessory, the Chinese artist offers an essence of memorabilia and complete design individuality.
Adopting plaster and resin, Zhou vigilantly moulds the requested body part and places an immense amount of pressure on moulding the perfect piece first time;
“For me, all the moulds are one-offs which means every piece has to be successfully made the first time. Every time I take the final piece out of the mould, I hold my breath that it comes out right.”
When formed, the piece appears as plaster yet hosts a firmer aesthetic with a plastic free feel. With the desire to provide a unique experience for the wearer, Yi helps the participant understand the rationale behind her designs. Engaging with the participants, the artist collects a number of their emphatic personal accounts. Intrigued by the individual narratives, Zhou has an array of personal tales, from the nipple casting of a young lady in her prime to a Fathers Day gift from two brothers hooking fingers together to freeze;
“I really enjoy talking to people and listening to their reasons for choosing the body parts being cast.”
The fascination with mould-making began during an industrial design course, with an adoration for material experimentation Yi found herself testing the process until she got it correct. After a dozen times, the Chinese designer discovered the correct balance for casting, polishing, and refinement.
With Zhou’s materials resembling that of medical plaster, the designer began calling herself Dr. Zhou thus the BodyMemory clinic was born.
With the unique vision to assist the wearer rediscover their relationship with the body, Zhou believes her clinic helps the public to understand the concept behind her designs.
When questioned how Yi Zhou wishes the wearers of her designs to feel, she humbly states;
“They will feel like they are part of the project because this project is very personal and participatory. They may have a sense that they are not only wearing a piece of jewellery, but they will also have an emotional and meaningful attachment.”