Interviews - YstudioYi and Yanko are the founders of Ystudio. The Taiwanese design studio created a range of minimalistic stationary objects, made for everyday use. Although the collection stands out for it’s simplicity, there is quite an interesting story behind the stationary line. We spoke with Yi and Yanko about their lives, the city they life in, Ystudio, The Weight of Words and about new exciting projects coming up in the future.
“We want to remind people of the beautiful things that have been forgotten as time goes by. This shared thought impelled us to establish this brand.”Hey guys, where did you two meet?
We used to work for the same company in Taipei. While we were working together, we would often talk with each other and share our ideas about design and life. The more we got to know each other, the more we realized that we had similar ideas, and want to share these with other people. We want to remind people of the beautiful things that have been forgotten as time goes by. This shared thought impelled us to establish this brand.
Before we start talking about the brand, could you tell us a little bit more about Taipei?
Taipei is a multicultural city where many East Asian cultures and life styles coexist. We are very familiar with the resources this city offers, which is one of the reasons why we decided to start our own studio here.
So, where is your business located? And how would you describe this area?
Our studio is located in the old town of Taipei. This district is a mix of old and new. You can find many traditional industries here. In one street there are metal cutting, welding, machines trading businesses as well as big and small processing factories and stores, while in another street close by, you can find stores that sell traditional Chinese medicines, herbs and spices. In recent years, more and more designing brands and designers chose to settle in these kind of districts so that they can create new things based on these traditional elements.
From a designers perspective, do you think the city contributes to your creativity?
Taipei is a bit of crowded and noisy. A mix of old traditions and new things makes this city diverse and interesting. We love old things. When we stroll on the streets, we enjoy checking out the old fashioned hardware stores. We often would stop and take our time to look at old houses. Its gable and the decorations on its stigma fascinate us. In the meantime we strive to work together with traditional manufacturers to produce the stationery series, hoping to create a virtuous circle of local design and manufacture. We believe that, outside so-called trend and fashion, one can only see the nature of culture through real life. That’s what the cultural landscape of this city really about. It needs careful cultivation. It grows and thrives along with life.
”In the meantime we strive to work together with traditional manufacturers to produce the stationery series, hoping to create a virtuous circle of local design and manufacture”Tell me more about Ystudio. What does the brand stand for?
What Ystudio creates is not just the object itself, but also the true meaning behind it. We believe that each object embodies a deeper meaning: a lamp means warmth and hope, a pen stands for feelings one cherishes. Through our products, we hope to bring people more imagination in their lives, that’s why we design products for daily use. Ystudio believes that the value of simplicity in design is very important.
Do you each have a specific role?
Our company is very small at the moment which is why we need to operate in a very flexible way. That’s why we work together on branding, product planning, design and other aspects with regard to company operation. As partners with different backgrounds and personalities, we have a lot of fun discussing and debating over different issues.
Is there a bigger picture? Something that you are working towards?
We hope to further develop this brand, to encompass different areas of life, to create more products which can express Ystudios style. In the future we will have our own store and working place, so that we can reduce the distance between our customers and us. Starting from the end of this year, we are going to work on a bigger development plan. Our short term goal is to develop a complete product line, including artistic craft works and commercial products.
Tell me about The Weight of Words, how did you come up with it?
The meaning of writing to modern people has gradually changed: it is no longer a necessity. So because of this change, we need to take a much closer look at what exactly writing means to people nowadays. Writing has evolved from a way to convey words to a medium to express emotions. ‘Weight’ represents not only a deep emotion, but it also stands for a meaningful commitment: deep, heavy and indelible.
Is this something you guys do often? Add a double, more deeper layer to products?
Yes, because, on top of our products, we are also going to communicate with our customers about the value of writing through many writing related activities. We have held an event called “write a letter that cannot be sent” to encourage people to face their inner regrets, gratitude, love and apology; we have also held an event called “the distance to your dream” to help people understand that dreams are not just dreams, they are meant to be made true. Another event that we held was themed “write a letter to each other” where participants were asked to write to each other so that they could get to know themselves through other people’s eyes. Last year a lot of tragedies happened in Taiwan. We printed thousands of cards with stamps and gave them out to people for free hoping that they would use them to write to those who are important to them. We communicate with people through our products and activities. This is also why we name ourselves “beyond object”. Every object and every activity has a deeper layer and diverse meanings. That’s the beauty of it.
”The color and luster of copper changes over time. Since different persons use it in a different way which will cause different oxidation effects, the color change varies from person to person. This makes the connection between people and their objects stronger.”How did you end up with brass, copper and bronze as your materials of choice?
As shown in the concept of this product series The Weight of Words, we can more easily let our customers feel the value of this concept by using heavy materials such as copper. The color and luster of copper changes over time. Since different persons use it in a different way which will cause different oxidation effects, the color change varies from person to person. This makes the connection between people and their objects stronger.
What materials would you really like to use in the future?
We also like natural materials such as leather and wood. But we will continue using copper as main material in the coming two to three years.
What are you most proud of?
More and more people start to think about the forgotten beautiful things in life because of our products. They bought our pens to write to their parents, lovers and good friends. Our events reminded them of forgotten or neglected but important things in life. There are also people who wrote to us months after the events, telling us that our events helped them find their way. Every beautiful thing, no matter how small, that’s caused by our brand, is what we are proud of.
Any exciting things coming up in the future?
We have held many events in Taiwan and received a lot of feedback from our customers. We sincerely hope that one day we can hold similar events abroad.
Thank you so much, Yi and Yanko.
Learn more about Ystudio and the current collection at the Ystudio collection page.
Interview & Text: Tico Oudhuis & Robin Jansen