Stellar Works: Aura of Asian Aesthetics and Culture
In an exclusive interview, Shanghai-based design company Stellar Works’ art directors Neri & Hu and founder Yuichiro Hori reveal the new shift in the design brand’s direction.
Shanghai-based design brand Stellar Works, founded in 2013 by Yuichiro Hori, has officially launched its new signature collections that bridge cultures and heritage of the East and West, at Maison & Objet Paris. TLmagazine started to cultivate stories with the company after having exhibited its Glass Is Tomorrow collections next to Stellar Works at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan during the Salone del Mobile. TLmag teamed up with Stellar Works and Japan Handmade to organize an event at Tai Ping in New York that year during the ICFF fair.
For this Maison & Objet January edition, TLmag has interviewed its new appointed creative directors, Rossana Hu and Lyndon Neri from Neri & Hu, both very renowned in China and at an international level. In close collaboration with the French manufacturer Laval, Stellar Works has already implemented its collections in various luxury hotels, cafés and restaurants in the world.
Hotel Les Bains with architecture office RDAI Architecture and hotel Royal Monceau with designer Philippe Starck are two of its emblematic references in Paris. Landing in Paris after flying from Shanghai, Stellar Works reveals the essence of its philosophy associating East Asian and Western modern and contemporary designers within its furniture collections.
“Designs and designers are the creative heart of our company,“ states Yuichiro Hori, the founder and CEO of Stellar Works. “Without exception, they have an instinctive understanding of the Stellar Works mission and a talent for drawing and combining creative inspiration and craft technique from multiple places and periods.”
Stellar Works collaborates very tightly with the established French manufacturer Laval in order to enhance on both sides the Asian craftsmanship and East-West dialogue. By the collaboration, Stellar Works enriches this mutual dialogue at the level of lifting up an industrial potential that is combined with an innovative approach to the design culture. The dialogue blends influences going from the 20th century design up to the most recent Asian and Scandinavian creations.
Hori speaks about “a touch of Bauhaus-crafted functionality or the refined simplicity of Mid-Century Scandinavian, which often seamlessly fused into the classic forms and patterns of the Asian creative tradition” as a great source of infinite connections between East Asia and the rest of the world. This reflection is well reflected both in the Cabinet of Curiosity, introduced by Stellar Works and their new appointed creative directors Neri & Hu at Galleria Rossana Orlandi during Salone del Mobile in April 2015. Moreover, the reflection can be seen in the fabulous cage built up at the Maison & Objet Paris entrance of hall 7. The gate, which refers to Louise Bourgeois’ art works, is a perfect cross-cultural metaphor.
“If you look at Louise Bourgeois’s work, it’s very powerful and our Stellar Works presentation within a very refined metal cage is the result of a tribute to her,” states Lyndon Neri at Maison & Objet. “We have started caging you in an environment that wraps you into the world we are in today. This world is not about different countries but about design, which can come from different parts of the world, as well as manufacturing and craftsmanship. The most important thing to us as creative directors of Stellar Works is to be able to bring people together, have a conversation, and build up a community by sharing the same values. This is where great things can happen!”
“By encapsulating you in our cross-cultural vision, we want to stress the meaning of the word ‘glocal,’ which has been introduced in our multicultural society. You want to be local and global at the same time, which is part of our paradox and complexity as human beings,” stresses Rossana Hu. “We are all connected digitally through Internet and social networks but we can only be physically at one spot at a time. As designers, we are ourselves influenced by the East and the West, but we are also belonging to our roots and country as Chinese, and we’d like to return to them at the end of our lives. It’s a very natural feeling, following the cycle of life and death. Our way of living is much influenced by our sensitivities and not only by a global culture. We feel that we have to open and think out of the box in order to be able to innovate and enter into a dialogue with other cultures. The sense and expression of belonging is much connected to the place to which you want to identify yourself.”
“In terms of creation and collection, finding back what has been started by Thomas Lykke of design studio OeO as art director in the past years, the amplitude was in fact very wide,” Lyndon Neri continues. “We have narrowed it a bit in order to make a transition to all the new. Still, we wanted to keep an eye on the history like Hori said earlier. This is the reason why we have included also design icons that are top-end re-editions of pieces such as the ones of Carlo Forcolini, Vilhelm Wohlert and the upcoming ones by Gio Ponti.”
“We aim at a clear statement – when people enter the ‘holistic’ and physical space of Stellar Works, we’d like them to understand the notion of craft combined to the stream of technology. To clarify the message, we need to highlight the fact that Stellar Works has a strong industrial tool and can master the craft, also thanks to the close collaboration with the French manufacturer Laval,” Neri states.
“About this vision of sharing, which applies both to the public and private environments, we believe that it’s not only me and Rossana who have to shape it. We are living in an interconnected world, which brings us to design collections such as Ming, Utility, Chambre and Dowry. But we also choose designers who can also be part of this community and think on our new ways of living. The bespoke Yabu Pushelberg pieces can be anything from an artwork to a furniture piece. This versatility in the Stellar Works collections interests us much as well as how design can change the world following a better sense of living together. And beyond the classic standards and attitudes, having a common sense of this quest for a cross-cultural design and craftsmanship.”
“If you look at every collection including ours and the ones by Space Copenhagen and Yabu Pushelberg, all three of us are duos and couples at the same time,” Rossana Hu adds. “We are all designers, but the way we design is to create usable things, part of our living. Nic Graham with his QT/Chillax Collection, Shuwa Tei and his New Legacy Collection, OeO with SW Collection and Rugs are also pieces, which we can include into projects but also into our homes. Design for us is not just corresponding to good looks but we also designers of objects as well as interiors, and in all our projects, we are looking at the context and impact it can have on people. With Design Republic in Shanghai, we are also trying to open up this conversation, which happens much more on a cultural level. We are launching the Festival of Design during Design Week Shanghai. Let’s see what will occur!”
In this long way to go, Hori as a Japanese living in Shanghai and travelling all around the world makes a final statement:
“I would like to think that 100 years from now, our pieces will still be as contemporary and resonant as they are today and, moreover, that Stellar Works will still be crafting quality furniture that is Asian in inspiration, cross-cultural in design and international in its scope.” •
Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu. Photo/copyright Andrew Rowat.
Stellar Works at Maison & Objet Paris in January 2016. Photos/copyright Septet+Bracco.