Meet Lufeianna Wang Gillies
Central Saint Martins, PG Diploma in Fashion Design (Womenswear), 2009
Born in Thailand and moving to Taiwan at a young age, Lufeianna Wang is a designer with experience in interior, architecture and fashion.
Initially developing interiors for her family’s restaurant chain, she quickly moved on to fashion, during which time she exhibited at China Fashion Week and completed a postgraduate at Central Saint Martins in the UK.
Lufeianna returned to Taiwan with her newly refined and unique design concepts in order to concentrate on the development of her ideas. Her recent exhibitions ‘Dage Deconstructed’ and ‘Through Lost Lands; Juancun Nostalgia’ held at Matzu Art Village and Taoyuan City Exhibition Hall respectively, have focused on her growing interest in combining her childhood influences with the neo-futurist style she developed in England.
Lufeianna has been Lead Designer and Brand Manager/Interior Designer at Genshen Enterprise Co Ltd since 2000.
What made you want to come and study at Central Saint Martins?
I already knew that I wanted the very best university in the best possible location in order to further my fashion design; Paris, Milan and New York all came to mind, but London stood out above all of them as a city with a reputation for cutting edge design through a melding of many different cultures and influences. After that Central Saint Martins was an easy choice; I had long admired the work produced by CSM alumni and I wanted the chance to discover myself in the same way other designers had done.
What did you love most about living in London?
The multi-cultural reputation I heard so much about was well deserved, and it was every bit what I hoped it would be. To see so much diversity from culture and design to language and history on a daily basis was a wonderful experience, and I was never once made to feel as though I didn’t belong in London. It feels like a city in which the whole world meets.
What made you turn from a focus on fashion to interior design?
Before I left for London I was already juggling fashion design with my work as an interior designer for my family’s chain of restaurants. I’d always enjoyed both, but at the time I saw a different future in each; through fashion I saw the opportunity to take my ideas to an international level, where as working with family gave me a sense of satisfaction and contentedness like nothing else. My greater experience and skill with fashion design led me to CSM, but I quickly realised after returning to Taiwan that what I had learnt was so easily transferable. I was quickly able to apply my new design identity into interior design projects for my family. Now the two futures I saw have merged; I’m able to aspire towards great heights with even greater exposure, and I can do it working with the people I care for most.
How has your fashion background impacted your interior design and curation work?
Two major influences have carried across from my work in fashion; use of fabric and structure. The designs I created at Central Saint Martins were increasingly influenced by the large structural shapes to alter the silhouette of the wearer, using industrial textiles in new ways to achieve that aim. Now I often use installation pieces to try and change peoples perceptions on the shape of any given space – I often achieve this through textiles, using the same techniques from fashion to manipulate the shape and structure of my installation work. Similarly I’ve tried to use the same method in my recent curation work to not only present items, but immerse them in a space, in order to give viewers a better understanding of the piece in front of them.
Has the education you received from Central Saint Martins influenced the way you approach designing?
Central Saint Martins really helped me to discover my identity and focus on what I want to design. Previously I often found myself overwhelmed with design ideas, sometimes resulting in finished pieces that never quite reflected what I had originally intended. The guidance I received at CSM helped me focus on the direction I wanted to follow; now I can very quickly identify what it is I want to achieve and bring together all of the ideas, influences and sources of inspiration that will help me achieve that.
Tell us about Genshen Art + Design?
Over the past year the ideas I have tried to present have been limited by the practicalities of designing interiors for a hospitality business, and so Genshen Art+Design was formed. Its a group of individuals within our business with interests in many different areas; from graphic and illustration, to digital and technical, to literature and poetry. Together we have undertaken a number of design and curatorial projects that enable us to design purely for the purpose of expression; its not only been a fulfilling experience but a valuable one for our company. Elements of the designs and projects we have been involved in have since worked their way back into projects we do for the business; its a cyclical process that benefits everyone.
What inspires your work?
My family and local community all come from an area known as the Golden Triangle, an area covering Yunnan in China, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. Its a mountainous and for a long-time lawless area infamous for its part in the global opium trade. The triangle is home to a diverse range of ethnicities, as well as a complex history involving Chinese nationalists, communists, lost armies and displaced people. Many of us have since been able to leave that behind and start a new life in Taiwan, but the positive elements of such a rich heritage create a strong sense of identity and inspiration to all of us. Similarly since coming to Taiwan, spending time in Canada and living in the UK, I’ve come to aspire towards the better, cleaner future that is often embodied in today’s design and architecture. Finding a way to bring such a raw and colourful culture into today’s neo-futurist world fascinates me.
What have you been most proud of?
This is a very difficult question to answer and perhaps I’ll be better placed to answer it towards the end of my career, as I’m sure my designs will have progressed even further by then. Currently what I’m most proud of is how I’ve found a way to balance my love for design with my love for family; my relationships with my family are better now than they have ever been and that pushes me to work even harder for both them and myself.
What’s next for you?
I have recently been invited to design an installation piece for the 2016 Taiwan Lantern Festival, the largest festival in Taiwan and internationally recognised as one of the best in the world. Following that are roles as lead designer for Longgang Rice Noodle Festival, which is now approaching a national scale, and design consultancy for a neighbourhood rejuvenation project, the creation of a museum, and the preservation and development of a historical village. Its exciting to see that all of the work put in over the past few years is beginning to culminate in such fantastic opportunities.
Before then though I plan to return to the UK for some rest and relaxation, and no doubt spend some time absorbing yet more inspiration from one my favourite cities; London!