Interview with Xiao Yi Chen (Iris Chen) of Iris Chen Interiors International Ltd.

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Xiao Yi Chen (Iris Chen)

Xiao Yi Chen (Iris Chen) aspires to create an environment where the interaction between sensitivity and rationality can lead to captivating synergies, resulting in a functional and visually appealing space. This aspiration is the driving force behind her career as a designer.

Interview With The 2023 MUSE Design Awards Winner – Xiao Yi Chen (Iris Chen)

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

Throughout my high school years, I delved into the diverse world of art, honing my skills in various mediums such as pencil and charcoal drawing, watercolor and ink painting, and immersing myself in both Eastern and Western art history.

This passion for artistic expression led me to pursue interior design in college, where I dedicated myself to mastering the craft. Upon graduating, I embarked on a fulfilling career in the industry where I have had the privilege of designing and constructing a multitude of commercial spaces throughout Japan.

From large corporations to chain restaurants, department stores to boutiques and jewelry brands, I have gained extensive experience in creating captivating and functional environments that meet the unique needs of each client.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?
Art often evokes emotions, whereas design needs to address practical issues while also considering aesthetics. My goal is to blend art and design in a physical space where sensitivity and rationality can interact, leading to exciting chemical reactions and producing a functional and visually pleasing environment. This is what propelled me to become a designer.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

Iris Chen Interiors Ltd is an international full service decoration and interior design company.

In this era of freedom and innovation, we showcase various home styles and trajectories, all while remaining attuned to the true desires of our customers. Through our designs for completed spaces, we foster a dialogue that transcends both time and space. Our goal is to draw out the natural vitality and promote a sense of happiness and abundance, all in harmony with co-prosperity.

Guided by the rich millennium Chinese fine art culture, we integrate the natural landscape mood and the principles of feng shui into our wood carvings, stone carving art, and the use of cloud motifs, rendering patterns with bamboo, wood, and rattan textures to convey a natural landscape's atmosphere. By introducing the mysterious colors and cultural heritage of the Orient, we successfully blend the strong and soft, east and west influences, resulting in the creation of a series of high-end projects worldwide.

Our goal is to create highly personalized, sophisticated and futuristic sensory experiences for our clients through the fusion of art, design and modern technology. Our interiors are a perfect blend of aesthetics and art, craftsmanship and texture, sustainability and technology, the five senses and mood, enabling us to express our clients' unique tastes. Drawing inspiration from our extensive travels, we have developed relationships with a select group of highly innovative European brands and top artisans, whose exceptional capabilities enable us to create one-of-a-kind pieces for any project.

Our in-house expertise in fashion, photography, art, and design comes together to create contemporary interiors that radiate warmth, elegance, and originality. Our dedication to full-service ensures that all aspects of a project are promptly attended to, with an experienced international team involved from start to finish. Our diverse portfolio includes a range of projects such as private residences, turnkey properties, commercial spaces, and office interiors.

Our philosophy and desire for continuous development has inspired us to collaborate with many innovative leading European furniture designers and international artists. The end result is a selection that combines design and sophistication with the diverse creative interpretations of experienced architects, artists, craftsmen and furniture designers throughout the project. The ultimate goal is to create a highly personalized and unique home environment for each client.

Whether embarking on new home construction or remodeling projects, full-service interior design and project management form the foundation of Iris Chen Interiors Ltd's business. With each of our projects worldwide, we ensure that clients receive comprehensive services, starting from the initial design discussions and extending to the final finishing and styling details of the completed project. The Iris Chen Interiors Ltd team, including our carefully selected general contractors and partner architects (as needed), excels at planning, managing, and delivering well-orchestrated finished projects.

Passionate about making their design ideas accessible to the public, Iris Chen Interiors Ltd will work with artists and product designers to create a range of products for the home.

4What does “design” mean to you?
Design is a crucial tool that facilitates effective communication and fosters a deeper connection between people and their surrounding spaces. Whether it's commercial design aimed at creating functional and aesthetically pleasing environments for businesses or interior design focused on enhancing the ambiance of living spaces, design plays a pivotal role in shaping the quality of human experiences.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

In the realm of design, various styles and historical backgrounds exist. Personally, I am drawn to a classical approach because it allows reinterpretation through modern mediums of expression. Design is closely linked to the humanities and revolves around people. My goal is to incorporate culture and history into my work to offer clients unique and diverse experiences. Different clients have distinct requirements.

As for me, I enjoy blending classical and modern styles. Aesthetics, proportions, and colors are all interrelated and vary across different periods. Currently, I am fond of this design expression as it exudes a sense of classicism and high quality, even if the materials used are not necessarily of the highest quality. The texture of the final product is what truly matters.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

A well-designed space should prioritize the relationship between nature, people, and the environment. For a home, it is important to consider factors such as ventilation, lighting, and a sense of stability, while commercial spaces should reflect the unique styles and emotions of different brands.

A good design should establish a strong connection between people, nature, and their surroundings. Designers must not only create functional and comfortable spaces, but also use their creativity to evoke an emotional response from the user. A space should not only be comfortable, but also a place of mental and emotional rest.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

When it comes to my design style, I tend to gravitate towards a modern interpretation of classic design styles that were prevalent in the past. My approach involves utilizing a range of design techniques to emphasize the key features and proportions of both commercial and residential spaces, so that they can maximize their spiritual power.

In order to achieve this, I take into account the historical and cultural spirit of the user or brand that I am designing for. My ultimate goal is to create a design that exudes a sense of classic elegance and surprise, leaving a lasting impression on those who experience it.

8Tell us about your design process.
Based on the customer's first impression and my observation of their needs, I engage in extensive communication to understand their ultimate goal. Through repeated speculation, I strive to find a balance between their actual needs and desires. Finally, I provide visual aids such as pictures and 3D drawings to help the client visualize and finalize their ideas for the space.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

I strive to provide practical and thorough solutions to their problems by utilizing my strong passion and emotional intelligence. In my design work, I aim to strike a balance between sensibility and rationality, integrating the passion of my culture with the principles of effective design to create ideal spaces for my clients.

My country has a rich cultural history, having been an agricultural society. Situated at the heart of Eastern culture, my country is a melting pot of diverse cultures including those from Japan, South Korea, China, and Southeast Asia. This cultural fusion has resulted in a greater level of inclusiveness and has also incorporated Western influences, leading to a unique blend of Eastern and Western design elements.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

We feel thankful to MUSE Design Awards for acknowledging and honoring our work, including its aesthetics and design. This recognition has enabled us to shine on the international stage of MUSE and we are humbled to receive recognition from our design peers.

The award has brought joy and a sense of accomplishment to our clients, which has given our team a boost of confidence. We will continue to maintain strong client relationships and strive for further development and growth. MUSE Design Awards’s encouragement and motivation have been invaluable to our team.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
For a company that blends traditional and modern electronics, I aim to merge oriental Feng Shui and traditional elements with contemporary methods to reimagine the space. The goal is to create a harmonious balance between traditional and modern elements and integrate traditional oriental aesthetics into the design. Through this approach, the oriental elements can be showcased and presented in a new and innovative way.
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

Creating the CEO's office proved challenging as the Chairman strictly adhered to Feng Shui principles and fire regulations. Furthermore, the design requirements were conveyed through the Chairman's secretary and special assistant, rather than directly from the Chairman.

The main objective was to establish a peaceful and balanced environment that promotes overall well-being, including physical, mental, and spiritual relaxation.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Winning an award is a great way to recognize our team's hard work and jumpstart our career development. It also boosts our clients' trust in us and enhances our professional reputation.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

One crucial element of this industry is appreciating beauty. With various materials and visualizations available, every project brings its own unique spark. Personally, I see beauty as a gift that always surprises and delights me.

Another crucial aspect is client relations management. It is a challenge that feels like an adventure. Although each case has its own set of procedures, it also serves as a valuable learning experience. Looking back, it is easy to laugh at past difficulties, but overcoming them builds resilience and determination. This experience reinforces the notion that nothing is impossible.

The third aspect regards the immense feeling of happiness and freedom that accompanies successfully completing a project for a client. This field requires a lifetime of knowledge and experience, and the process can be long and challenging. However, I admire the courage of those who have persevered through the different stages. The sense of satisfaction and freedom that comes with a job well done, as well as the client's approval, is beyond measure.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?

My country is a central hub that appreciates diverse cultures. In the design industry, it is essential to embrace and reinterpret new creativity. While I have faith in my country’s design industry, we must continue to strive to connect with other nations. Eastern cultures tend to be more subdued and conservative, which creates an opportunity for refinement.

Design professionals in my country will come to appreciate their own value over time, but this will only happen as they become more open and less reserved. Hence, let us showcase our culture more frequently and make it shine on the global platform.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

As technology and the internet continue to advance, people are becoming more dependent on them for convenience and leisure. Consequently, there has been an increasing demand for soft furnishings such as interior fabrics, flexible decorative surfaces, and a range of colors.

With the ongoing pandemic, more individuals are spending time indoors, making comfort and relaxation crucial considerations in interior design. In the future, the trend will include smart home technology, convenient tools like lazybones, and a specialized division of labor for professional interior design.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

Developing a consistent routine of exercise and leisure activities is crucial for maintaining optimal physical and psychological health. It takes time and effort to strike a healthy balance, but the key to success lies in exhibiting integrity, responsibility, and honesty towards clients.

I am delighted to share that the MUSE Design Award is an exceptional competition that not only highlights participants' talents but also offers a stunning competition image and statuette as a reward.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

There are numerous skills and resources that can be accessed through different apps and online platforms. In my experience, Instagram and Pinterest have been especially effective tools. Enhancing one's skills is a matter of broadening one's horizons. Engaging in activities like texting and reading can also aid in skill development.

Through sharing and exchanging ideas with peers, individuals can discover more creative ways to improve their skills in the design industry.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I enjoy watching Stephen Chow's movies and believe a sense of humor is a crucial component of innovation.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

I draw inspiration from various aspects of nature, finding beauty in everything from flowers and trees to minerals and animals. Nature often exhibits the golden ratio and Fibonacci series, which are sacred geometries commonly found in art and design. Mathematics and geometry serve as potential models for the patterns found in nature.

Whether it is art, architecture, galaxies, humans, or music, numerical and geometrical themes are ubiquitous and consistently move and inspire me. The beauty of nature is truly awe-inspiring, as evidenced by the intricate and perfectly formed golden shell of a tortoise.

In addition to nature, I also find inspiration in music. Bold and vibrant colors in fashion, such as those used by Hermes or other European brands, inspire me in regards to texture and design, as we cannot directly wear flowers or trees on our bodies. Rather, we must establish a physical connection with our inspiration through the art of design.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
In the future, my focus will consistently center on the principles of nature and sustainability. I aspire to merge Eastern and Western influences, cultural traditions, and historical contexts. Through the medium of design, I aim to communicate a fresh perspective on these concepts.
22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

I find pearls and diamonds equally fascinating, despite their differences. While pearls are round, shiny, and come from the ocean, diamonds are made up of various facets and originate from the earth.

This fusion also brings to mind New York, a place where cultures collide to create something entirely new. I believe that design offers a fresh way of interpreting and appreciating the impact and sparks of various cultures. It's an amazing journey to rediscover history and culture through this lens.

Winning Entry

Co-Existence and Co-Prosperity | 2023


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Xiao Yi Chen (Iris Chen)

Xiao Yi Chen (Iris Chen) aspires to create an environment where the interaction between sensitivity and rationality can lead to captivating synergies, resulting in a functional and visually appealing space. This aspiration is the driving force behind her career as a designer.

Read more about this interview with Lin Hsien Chien of Yuanji Interior Design, the Silver Winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards.