About Tairan Hao and Shan Xu

Tairan Hao and Shan Xu are Chinese new media artists and designers in Beijing. Their work questions current nature and technology development, socio-cultural, and gender norms, with a particular emphasis on exploring the relationship between technology and art activism. Naturally drawn to uncovering the nuances and mechanism of the world people live in, they are particularly interested in exploring our daily landscapes and the critical concerns of modern times: the conflicting forces that shape land and humans. Their goal is to recreate spaces that intrigue and encourage the viewer to slow down and indulge in a moment of contemplation and reflection.

Interview with Tairan Hao and Shan Xu

Tairan Hao and Shan Xu ("THASX") interviewed on Tuesday, 17 November.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

THASX : Shan Xu is a new media artist. She graduated from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her work questions current Nature and technology development, socio-cultural, and gender norms, emphasizing the relationship between technology and art activism.

How did you become a designer?

THASX : Shan Xu prefers to talk to people, that she had become an artist naturally as she grew. She holds a master's degree in fine art from California College of the arts and a bachelor's degree from Central Academy of Fine Arts. Her concept comes from nature, naturally drawn to uncovering the world's people's nuances and mechanism. She is particularly interested in exploring our daily landscapes and modern times' critical concerns: the conflicting forces that shape land and humans. Her goal is to recreate spaces that intrigue and encourage the viewer to slow down and indulge in a moment of contemplation and reflection.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

THASX : Shan Xu focuses on animation and non-narrative artistic expression. She is good at catching nature's elements, through multiple image-producing techniques, like drone footage, macro photography, 3D scanning, lightroom photography, Organic physics simulations, and surrealistic vision.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

THASX : A little bit scared, excited, and hopeful. This mixed emotion could let me balance a better situation to start the design journey.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

THASX : Design and art is the best way for Shan to accomplish a particular purpose. The meaning of design is so multifaceted, to the point that you can no longer say if a universal definition is at all possible. Shan’s concept was influenced by an American biologist Edward O. Wilson; the Biophilia hypothesis by Edward states that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with Nature and other life forms. She is particularly interested in Digital Nature and the conflict between Nature and digital.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

THASX : I just graduated from the California College of Arts; I am currently organizing my art studio and taking freelance design jobs with my partner Tairan. We would also like to design and build an immersive new media art experience.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

THASX : Diversify your experience. A well-rounded design leader can wear many hats. They collect those hats by taking on responsibilities outside their design "discipline." If you are a Fashion Designer, do not be afraid to take on roles in Graphic Design. I have done Video Design, Animation Design, Graphic Design, Package Design, Toy Design, and Innovation Strategy.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

THASX : There will always be someone better; there will always be someone who has a negative comment on your design. But remember, we all have a skill that makes us awesome! what's yours? Identify it and exploit it! Usually, your superpower is what great careers are built around.

What is your day to day look like?

THASX : When people ask me what I do for a living, I show them what I want to do. For me, visual design is about finding the best way to bring ideas to life: posters, film, installation, animation, or even objects. So I wake up with sunshine, sit at the front of my work table to read some news to start my day; by the way, there is a place that has grown of my most inspiration. Then I always talk with my partner and eat some lunch together.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

THASX : For myself, creating my design style is the most essential step, and I will balance the latest design trend in my design.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

THASX : The right design will crack you up. It's a default; every design solution should be in line. However, the fun and delight are the goals. The hard sell times are past. Modern design seduces and brings pleasure.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

THASX : It's hard to answer. I also asked my professors about this question during my master's program period. They told me that the design is ready when the design quality achieves your goals, or the design is better than your imagination. You should ask yourself: would the design work express your concept directly? Setting a standard of design quality and deadline will help you to decide.

What is your biggest design work?

THASX : My digital and graphic design are named "CODE," recently got the NDA prize in France, the design work combined computer C++ language and sewing machine to present. This work is the biggest project for me because I did it for two years with over and over iteration. The design outcome was eventually shown into a book and consisted of four parts.

Who is your favourite designer?

THASX : Neri Oxman, Oxman coined the term and pioneered the field of, Material Ecology, which considers computation, fabrication, and the material itself as inseparable dimensions of design. Her field and design attitude engaging and inspiring me to augment the relationship between built, natural, and biological environments.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

THASX : Recently, I work in my home country China. I feel the cultural heritage of my country affects my designs. The design is usually affected by the environment and reflection of our life. There are some fantastic traditional architectures and full of oriental aesthetics atmosphere. We want to catch the culture's essence into our design and avoid having too many of the same and boring elements in my system.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

THASX : Shan Xu is an independent artist that focuses on the creative speculative design and new media design. The goal is to engage the audience to discuss and think about nature and technology. In the meanwhile, tyshan.studio aims to help us successfully manage the disruptive forces of environmental, technological, and cultural changes today and plan our next evolutions.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

THASX : A'Design Award is a competition that brings together excellent designers from all over the world. We learned some of the latest ideas and skills from the A'Design's winner.

Tairan Hao and Shan Xu Profile

Ceramics Extension Art Installation

Ceramics Extension Art Installation design by Tairan Hao and Shan Xu


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