Interview with Silvanna Shen for simple finals

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Silvanna Shen

Silvanna Shen, founder and designer of SILVANNASHEN, is a rising fashion artist whose family's creative influence shaped her passion. Through SILVANNASHEN, she seeks to provide more than just clothing, offering a refuge for those in search of a harmonious balance in life.

Interview With The 2023 London Design Awards Winner – Silvanna Shen

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I am Silvanna Shen, a rising fashion designer whose passion for the art of design was nurtured within the creative ambiance of my family. My journey began with a focus on graphic design at the School of Visual Arts, but my heart led me to Parsons School of Design, where I delved into the world of fashion.

Amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic, I found myself working in the industry as a graphic designer and foreign marketing sales assistant at a design company. This invaluable experience became the catalyst for the inception of my own brand, SILVANNASHEN. My brand is driven by a mission to instill a sense of tranquility and to expand both the sartorial and emotional dimensions for individuals navigating the bustling landscapes of global megacities.

My design philosophy is deeply rooted in the wisdom of Chinese construction, embracing sustainable materials and minimalist aesthetics. Through SILVANNASHEN, I aspire to offer not just clothing but an embodiment of calmness, providing a refuge for those seeking a harmonious balance in their lives.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

My journey into becoming an artist began with a recognition of the rich artistic environment of my upbringing and a realisation of my passion for design. This led me to pursue formal education in graphic design at the School of Visual Arts and later fashion at Parsons School of Design.

During the pandemic, I gained valuable industry experience, which ultimately inspired me to launch my brand, SILVANNASHEN, and delve into the realm of creating transformative, minimalist designs.

3Tell us more about your agency/company, job profile, and what you do.

I am the founder and designer of SILVANNASHEN.

SILVANNA SHEN is the only luxury fashion brand that expands the sartorial and emotional space for adventurous, ambitious women, living in global megacities, who want an elegant escape from the clutter of urban life.

4What does “design” mean to you?
Design means a lo to me and its not just simple art but a tool to make our world better.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

I appreciate designs that seamlessly blend cuteness, uniqueness, and intuitive communication. Cute designs, with their endearing charm, foster positive emotional connections, enhancing user enjoyment and memorability. Uniqueness in design, whether through innovative visuals or distinctive elements, captivates attention and ensures a lasting impact.

Equally, designs that "speak" for themselves, conveying purpose without excessive text, enhance user-friendliness. The synthesis of these elements not only creates visually striking aesthetics but also contributes to a more memorable and enjoyable user experience. Ultimately, the success of a design hinges on its alignment with the project's context, target audience, and overarching goals.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

To me, a "good" design encompasses a harmonious blend of aesthetic appeal and functional effectiveness. I appreciate designs that are not only visually engaging but also convey a clear message or purpose effortlessly. The inclusion of cute and unique elements adds a touch of personality, fostering positive emotional connections with users.

Additionally, a good design should be user-friendly, with an intuitive layout that allows users to navigate seamlessly. Striking a balance between creativity and practicality is key, ensuring that the design not only captures attention but also serves its intended purpose effectively. Ultimately, a good design resonates with its target audience, leaving a lasting and positive impression.

7How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?

'Simple Finals' is a manifestation of my creative motivation to bring calmness and simplicity to individuals amidst the chaos of the city. Through a flat-pack design system, the product symbolises transformation and unity, with each bamboo stick representing strength in connection.

It is also an open call with the sustainability in material and the lost traditional craftsman because of the attack of high intelligence AI. The neutral color palette enhances visual calmness, and the overall thesis promotes a holistic and minimalist approach to design, emphasising simplicity, functionality, and sustainability.

8What was your main source of inspiration for this design?
My distinct personal style, epitomised by the 'Simple Finals' project, is a fusion of traditional Chinese wisdom, modern aesthetics, and minimalism. While no specific person or movement directly inspired my style, I draw influence from the intelligence of Chinese construction, furniture, and the vibrant energy of New York City. The joint connection of bamboo sticks in the project reflects the idea of strength in unity, contributing to a unique and identifiable design philosophy.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
Of course!
10Congratulations! As the winner of the London Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

In my artistic research, the 'Simple Finals' project serves as a bridge between traditional wisdom and contemporary design, aiming to infuse calmness into the chaotic urban environment. Currently, I am translating this concept into my first ready-to-wear collection, continuously evolving and refining the idea for the world of fashion.

Collaborating with your gallery has provided an exciting platform to share this vision, allowing me to showcase the transformational nature of the 'Simple Finals' concept across various products, from fashion pieces to furniture.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 London Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Everything was formed by simple finals, my life started with speaking simple finals. The first expression I learned in speaking is from a o e i u ü that fulfilled my childhood. The reason why I chose to name this collection as simple finals is because the collection is a simple, clear, one-formed piece, but it provides a feeling: of calmness through the design and forms a new aesthetic that supports the entire collection’s thesis.

It was inspired from the traditional Chinese furniture and buildings. the amazing craft has drawn me to the bamboo material. with the aim of creating a escape fashion product for people who live in cities, a space that connects people, the environment, and fashion, i want the idea to be seen by more people.

12What were the main challenges you faced during the design process, and how did you overcome them?

'simple finals' took me a year to develop. It is definitely not a simple design as it looks, it takes time to experiment (how bamboo bends, what kind of construction should I use), and my ideas varied during the journey of designing.

I explored the Bamboo Village in China and had a conversation with a craftsman, discovering the distinctive qualities of bamboo. I appreciate every artisan I encountered, as it's rare to find young individuals entering the industry driven by passion rather than a pursuit of greater financial rewards.

13How do you think winning this award will impact your future as a designer?
I am so honoured! Winning this award helped me gain confidence and I am currently designing a new masterpiece!
14What sets your design apart from others in the same category?
No one has ever combined the idea of transferring furniture with functional and sustainable fashion pieces to wear.
15Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
Definitely, the combination with AI will be the big picture.
16What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create award-winning designs?
Don't hesitate to submit your application. The moment you contemplate is a moment lost on the path to self-improvement.
17What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
Apply to an art school, find a design job, and go to an atmosphere full of art!
18Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
At 22 years old, I've realised that design will be my lifelong companion until the end.

Winning Entry

simple finals | 2023

Simple Finals | SILVANNASHEN

The work titled ‘Simple Finals’ explores the intersection of traditional Chinese wisdom, modern city aesthetics, and minimalistic design to … (Read more at London Design Awards)

Silvanna Shen

Silvanna Shen, founder and designer of SILVANNASHEN, is a rising fashion artist whose family's creative influence shaped her passion. Through SILVANNASHEN, she seeks to provide more than just clothing, offering a refuge for those in search of a harmonious balance in life.

Read more about Silvanna Shen’s interview for the 2023 MUSE Design Awards!