Suki Wang is a talented and diverse designer embodying a multicultural and queer identity. With roots spanning Mongolia and China, Suki was born in Beijing and later moved to the United Kingdom at 13. Her creative journey commenced at Central Saint Martin’s, where her passion for design flourished.
Drawing inspiration from the intricate interplay between nature, Chinese folklore, and Mongolian art, Suki masterfully combines these elements into fashion designs that exude a contemporary flair. Her distinct illustration style is an extraordinary fusion, blending Mongolia’s vibrant colour palette with the traditional painting techniques of both China and the West.
Did moving around so much impact anything in your journey and who you are today?
Oh, definitely. It allowed me to create my identity. If you put together as a young teen growing up in the UK and my cultural background, putting that element into my work is a goal.
What inspired you to pursue this career?
Although my family has a scientific background, I have always been drawn to art since I was a child. It’s something I consider as my sanctuary, a place where I can create my own little world and feel safe. Even when I’m at a bar, I usually prefer to sit on the floor and do my little doodling. Even in social gatherings, I don’t always have something technical to contribute—I enjoy drawing. As I constantly move and question my identity, drawing allows me to become the person I aspire to be in my paintings and sketches. It serves as an escape plan, and I am thrilled that it is now becoming a career that brings me immense happiness.
Was there any family member or another person who encouraged you to pursue your dreams?
My parents, being scientists themselves, saw it as a good, stable career path. However, it was when I got into St. Martins that they truly recognized my creative abilities. That’s when they acknowledged that I had a genuine talent for it. In fact, one of my teachers in the UK had arguments with my parents. She told my parents that if they didn’t allow me to do art in A-levels, I would drop out. “I’ve been teaching for 30 years, and this kid is going somewhere”.
How do you describe your design aesthetic?
It is a mix of multicultural and vibrant colours. I’m definitely a maximalist. I like colours. I like that my cultural background has a bit of an oriental mix with modernism which will be the style and definitely non-minimum.
How do you describe your creative process?
I love travelling a lot. I enjoy exploring lesser-known places that are not heavily touristy because I appreciate authenticity. It could be a small village in South Europe or Southeast Asia, where I can observe the local way of life. It truly energizes me, even though I’m an extrovert and enjoy engaging with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I make it a point to take notes and visit local spots in smaller villages as they offer a more genuine experience. It helps me gather my thoughts, and I find inspiration in nature as well.
Do you always carry a notepad or take notes on your phone?
I take photos on my phone and organize them into albums based on the places I have visited, capturing even the smallest details. Additionally, I always carry an iPad with me. When I have the opportunity, I also enjoy drawing on my iPad.
Is there any project, in particular, you are proud of it?
When I embarked on creating my own project, focusing on homeware and lifestyle design, it became a transformative experience. That’s the moment when I really think, “I made it”. At least for a little bit, you know. Putting my work into other people’s lives, it’s like they live in my story. I’m very proud of that part.
How do you keep up with the trends in the market?
I opted for lifestyle design rather than fashion design because I don’t possess the skills to make clothes. In lifestyle design, we aren’t heavily focused on following fashion trends. While I experiment with colour schemes to some extent, we don’t align ourselves closely with the latest fashion trends as a brand. However, as a stylist with clients, I keep an eye on trends since they enjoy incorporating them into their looks. I also maintain close connections with friends in the fashion industry, especially during Fashion Week, to stay updated on new items and colours. It’s enjoyable to be part of this network and have access to all the exciting developments in the fashion world.
Do you use any software to help with your design?
I use Procreate on my iPad Pro and my Apple Pencil because I used to create traditional paintings and drawings. Ever since I was young, I enjoyed working with oil paintings and traditional styles. I do my sketches still by hand, put them together by collage-like old magazines and see how colour works. And then, I would trace them or draw them back onto my iPad. So, everything is digital, and in the end, it will be easier for the production.
How do you handle the critics toward your work?
I appreciate critiques because they provide valuable insights, especially considering my diverse cultural background. It’s fascinating to hear perspectives from people around the world, who may offer different interpretations that are sometimes surprisingly similar. As a passionate lover of different cultures, I enjoy connecting with others and finding the commonalities that unite us as humans. You know, I actually love the negative and positive feedback. I celebrate that. Even with my friends in other sectors, I love what they say about this part of my work. And I agree with them depends on where they’re from or where their cultural background is sometimes similar.
How do you balance creativity and practicality in your designs?
Most of my products consist of homeware and accessories. For example, my cushion collection incorporates different materials, such as cotton and silk. It’s important to me that everything is organic, so I thoroughly examine the samples before proceeding with production. I want to ensure they are soft enough and environmentally friendly, despite already being 100% organic. Sustainability is a key focus for my brand. Even our packaging is made from rice shells, which are biodegradable, as we consume the rice but not the shell. It’s interesting to note that all our materials are 100% bamboo and silk, and we’ve experimented extensively with silk. Once I have the samples, I share them with friends and family to assess their softness, size, and overall functionality. This feedback helps determine if they meet our standards before proceeding with production
Why did you decide to invest in homeware and accessories?
To be honest, because of lockdown. During the pandemic, everyone was confined to their homes. As a result, fashion items that prioritized comfort became popular. Sweatpants, long dresses, and other comfortable clothing gained widespread love. With the majority of people now working from home, home environments have become the primary workspace for about 70% of individuals, although some maintain office space. I wanted to incorporate this idea into people’s lives – the idea of being comfortable and playful. Most of my creations are vibrant and colourful, aiming to create an environment at home that feels safe and lively. Even if you don’t venture out much, having a bright home allows you to experience the initial idea that emerged during the pandemic.
Are there any specific obstacles or challenges that you face in your design process?
Yes, there are moments when I feel the need to continue with my new collection, but my ideas become stagnant. It takes me quite a while to overcome this hurdle. During such times, I find that travelling or immersing myself in nature, playing with animals, and seeking inspiration from various sources can help. However, there are instances where inspiration doesn’t come easily for designers or creatives, which can be the most frustrating time. Even if I’ve tried everything to find inspiration, I’ve learned that it’s important not to force it. Ultimately, if the ideas flow naturally, it’s amazing, and I design something meaningful. I don’t want to create just for the sake of it. I believe in letting ideas come organically.
Regarding dealing with creative blocks and relaxing, what methods do you usually employ?
When I encounter a creative block, I take a deep breath and try to relax. Personally, I find solace in engaging in activities that help clear my mind, such as taking a walk in nature, practising meditation, or indulging in a hobby that brings me joy. Sometimes, simply taking a break from my work and allowing myself to rest and recharge can spark new ideas and rejuvenate my creativity.
What is the next step for your career?
I would love to have my own store in the next few years. Additionally, I aspire to become a well-known brand, such as Anthropologie, John Lewis, or Liberty, where people would love to have my designs as part of their homes. I envision my brand as a boutique offering unique homeware products. Furthermore, collaborating with boutique hotels would be an honour if my designs align with their aesthetic and if they appreciate my work.
By Even Grazielly Escocio