Exclusive Interview with Stovaigh
In our discovery of the label STOVAIGH, we interviewed the creative behind the label. As the interview unfolds, we come to understand that there is great depth hidden behind the modest and humble Chinese artisan behind STOVAIGH.
About the designer
LCM: Where are you based and at what moment in life got you introduced to design?
''I am based in Hangzhou, China. I tried design when I was still a child. My grandfather was a wood carver. He always made carving designs in a peaceful state. The quiet power lingered around him, which impressed me so deeply. That was when I first came into contact with design and craftsmanship. Later, it became an experience. Experiences will always take root in your heart and then sprout at some point.''
LCM: Before you started Stovaigh, how did you cultivate your expertise in artisanal garment creation?
''I met Maurizio Altieri, and I have to say that his focus and perfectionism on craftsmanship have a certain vitality. We tried some projects together, and to some extent, this experience cultivated my attitude towards hand craft works.''
LCM: Why starting Stovaigh in Artisanal fashion? What intrigues you so much about craftsmanship?
''For me, the process of artisanal clothing is all about presence. Not only in handcraft works, but also in daily activities like walking, for example, when you walk, you are fully aware of your steps hitting the ground, that moment of high alertness will make me feel a deep level of peace, and that peace will be injected into the work I produce. I am very fascinated by the calmness contained in the work.''
LCM: Every creative is driven by inspiration, be it internally or externally. Where do you get inspired from and how do you implement this into your work as a craftsman?
''Inspiration always comes at a certain moment in a peaceful state. I don't like continuous thinking, because thoughts can easily get out of control like a bursting dam. It is always condensed in all your experiences. I like reading, but I never regard it as the purpose of accumulating inspiration, but it may one day become the seed of inspiration.''
Project STOVAIGH - Tomb and Vault
LCM: Your project Stovaigh is a beautiful fusion of cultural inspirations. How do you ensure that the essence of Eastern thought, classical photography, and intricate fabric development each get their spotlight in your creations and visuals?
"From a technical point of view, I can't guarantee it. I can only keep trial and error and wait. But the synergy of the three undoubtedly requires a condition, which is harmony. In this state, you will often have a feeling that is somewhere between knowing and not knowing."
LCM: Your first work is given the evocative name "Tomb and Vault," derived from ancient Chinese numerology thought. Could you elaborate on how this concept of balance between "hiding" and "presence" is translated into your designs, and how it showcases the internal spirit of the material object?
"For example, for a certain viewer, perhaps a certain detail at the moment is "useless" and the specific meaning cannot be understood by him. This detail is hidden at the moment, but gradually becomes clear as his experience and cognition increases. Deepening, he understood the meaning of this hidden detail and it appeared in his eyes. In fact, people are always switching between knowing and not knowing, which is a way of expression of hiding and showing.
These seemingly opposite things are always tolerant and transforming each other. This is the core of Chinese philosophy. There is no eternal opposition or eternal balance. STOVAIGH's design system is hidden, which is very foolish in today's trend of fanatical pursuit of self-expression, but under this foolishness, there is a ray of light that is slowly being revealed."
LCM: Your dedication to fabric development is evident. Can you shed light on how the isolation of the mill in AICHI, JAPAN contributes to the unique maturity of your fabrics?
"Not only in Aichi Prefecture, almost all the factories we work with are somewhat isolated from rest of the world. There is one factory with only one very old weaver. It is hard to imagine that the fabrics produced by him can be so excellent. The remote location can give him a quiet working environment.
The development of fabrics requires the presence and energy of the weaver, and failure is sometimes unavoidable, so the development cycle of some fabrics will be so long. Sometimes Japanese factories will bring out very old fabric samples for me. Those fabrics are charming, full of emotions, and the spiritual thickness far exceeds the physical thickness. This is always a powerful reference in my fabric exploration."
LCM: What do you look for in fabrics when sourcing materials for your new collection? What features do you find important to showcase in your work? (for example, natural dyes, rough structured materials, washed or woven fabrics, colors etc.)
"The conditions of yarn, craftsmanship, colour, structure, and production environment are all important and can create hundreds of possibilities. Some fabrics are great and you know they will be a hit, but there is always a deeper form, it's hard for me to say, but it is indeed true, You can think of it as a metaphor to describe this fabric as being very quiet, coming out from stillness.
In Zen Buddhism, when one in an extremely quiet state, words come out automatically. Usually this state is not controlled by the brain, but a deeper consciousness. That’s what I am looking for when I am sourcing fabrics for my collection."
Collection II - TAI
LCM: The combination of classical photography and fabric shows your passion for both. Can you share how you adapt photography (classical salted paper prints) onto fabrics? How does this process elevate the texture and visual character of your aesthetic?
"Salt paper printing is a very primitive photography process. To be precise, it is the realism of light. Images are formed through the refraction of particles.
However, this is very picky about the selection of fabric properties and requires a lot of experiments to obtain high-quality images. Toned images, these images will change slowly over time, for me its colour and texture are very poetic."
LCM: The metaphor of a book that is repeatedly opened and closed, telling a story, resonates deeply with the theme of your second collection. How do your fabrics, prints, and tailoring embody this dynamic narrative of "hidden" and "presenting"? (for example: what hidden elements or representative elements are shown in your garments?)
"Fabric structure, buttons, and even linings, I usually use invisible techniques to shape them, but they are not always hidden. Through calm observation, they may appear in front of you."
LCM: The "2 Faces dialogue overcoat" is a standout piece. Could you elaborate on the thought process behind incorporating the "infinite-exposure print" and the "salted silk print" on opposite sides?
What dialogue are the 2 faces having? How would you define the characters of the infinite-exposure print and the salted silk print?
"When salt paper printing was first born, the fixing method had not yet been invented, and the images produced were very unstable and could only be viewed in the darkroom. This was a very primitive state, symbolizing impermanence, change, and disappearance. Natural changes and infinite exposure are such symbols, and the salt paper image is an extension of this, which makes me want to create an atmosphere---the relationship between the origin and the current existence."
LCM: Can you provide a sneak peek into your upcoming collection? Will you continue to weave in the same techniques that define your designs, or can we anticipate something entirely different?
"Maybe a discussion, I don't know, I'm just interested in creating the atmosphere. Sometimes you can't define, because definitions often have shadows and limitations. There will be collaborations. When you meet some people who are very compatible, a lot of collaboration will happen naturally. The form is different, but the source of it all is exactly the same."