We are excited to announce the finalists selected for the 2019-2020 Rong Design Library X Pro Helvetia Shanghai Residency Program. Upon joint discussion between the Pro Helvetia design department and the library founder Zhang Lei, we chose to award the following four designers, Laure Gremion, Joel Hügli, Karin Lorez (WEER), and Alix Szijarto with the residency.
Rong Design Library Residency Program
This Residency Program is co-initiated by Rong Design Library and Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council. Rong Design Library is the first traditional material library in China. For the past five years, the library has invited 30 designers from more than 10 countries to avail of the residency in a village near Hangzhou, China. The cooperation with Pro Helvetia Shanghai is a special project that falls under the umbrella of this residency program. The objective is to create a critical learning environment to stimulate the discovery and rethinking between traditional crafts and contemporary design. It offers residents opportunities to exchange, experience, devote time to their design practice within a dynamic and vibrant environment by cooperating with local artisans.
Pro Helvetia Shanghai will support these four selected Swiss designers to become Rong Design Library’s resident for the period 2019-2020. The candidate will be able to research and study Chinese traditional handicrafts and materials (bamboo, silk, mud, copper, paper, etc.), and combine the learnt techniques with contemporary design. The designers will benefit from visits to crafts workshops, networking opportunities, database resources from the design library, one local assistant, and advisory support from the co-founders of the library.
Biography of Selected Swiss Designers
Karin Lorez (WEER)
Karin Lorez lives and works as a fashion designer and lawyer in Zurich. Born in 1983, Karin Lorez studied Law and received her PhD in Law at the University of Zurich in 2012. Karin started working for a fashion photographer in 2004 before she founded her fashion brand WEER in Zurich in 2014. WEER combines utility wear with femininity. Craftsmanship is an important element to WEER’s underlying concept going hand in hand with the idea of building a feminine utility brand.
Karin will explore botanical skin-friendly fabric dyeing in China. Besides being an old craftsmanship, plant-based dyeing is environmental-friendly and has a positive impact on human health. Karin will therefore explore the natural dyes by studying different techniques and experimenting with different colorants. Also, Karin will experiment by coating the fabrics with herbs and plants that are skin-friendly and have anti-inflammatory effects.
Laure Gremion is a product designer born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. After her studies at ECAL and Design Academy Eindhoven, she gained professional experience by working for Atelier Oï, designer Hector Serrano in Valencia and Unisto AG in St. Gallen. She currently works between Lausanne and Neuchâtel.
Driven by challenges and discoveries, Laure Gremion likes to stretch her limits by tackling complex and manifold subjects. Collaborations with professionals from technical backgrounds allow her to spice up her creations. Her projects led her to a 4-month residency at Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai in 2016. In addition, her work has been exhibited at various international events including the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Blickfang Selected and the World Economic Forum. In 2018, she won the Formforum Masterpiece prize for her chandelier «Céleste».
In China, she is eager to explore calligraphy paper in combination with her recent paper cutting project «Cactus», developing products such as curtains, window shades or lighting projects.
Product & Industrial Design
Joel Hügli started to learn more about material, technology, and design when he trained as a structural draughtsman at a reputable architecture office in Bern. He started his bachelor’s degree as a product and industrial designer at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland Academy of Art and Design. In 2018, he completed his studies with an award-winning diploma thesis about the symbiosis of traditional craftsmanship and new technologies and their transfer into the 21st century. He aimed to enhance traditional craftsmanship and to create sustainable production solutions as an inspiring statement for today’s consumer society.
Joel Hügli is currently working as a part-time researcher and designer in the Product and Textile Competence Centre at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, where he is parallelly doing his Master in Design. He focuses on projects with important sustainability aspects for people and the environment.
During his stay in China, he would like to build on his thesis and develop an inspiring product collection that meets the demands of sustainability and makes a clear statement for the future.
Industrial & Product Design
Alix Szijartois, born in 1994, is a Swiss designer currently working between London (UK) and Vevey (CH). After a bachelor’s degree with honour in Industrial & Product Design at ECAL/Ecole Cantonale d‘Art de Lausanne in 2017, she has worked with Doshi Levien and Barber & Osgerby on various light, furniture, textile, and scenography projects while continuing to develop her personal projects. She aims at creating innovative objects using the best of man’s hand and machine abilities, challenging the constraints of materials and production processes. Curious and mindful of people’s daily life, she enjoys working on a wide range of projects exploring interactions between behaviour, form, and function.
During her residency, she would like to continue to probe the limits between industry and craft, shape and function through studying traditional dyeing techniques and ceramic extrusion. The result of this residency will be a collection of everyday objects, celebrating the plurality of traditional fine craftsmanship and innovative contemporary design.
Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council