Silvanna Shen's London Design Awards' designer interview

Silvanna Shen's London Design Awards' designer interview

Interview with London Design Awards' winner Silvanna Shen

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

Silvanna Shen is an emerging fashion designer whose passion for design was cultivated from her upbringing in an artistic family. After studying graphic design at the School of Visual Arts and transferring to Parsons School of Design to pursue fashion, Silvanna gained industry experience as a graphic designer and foreign marketing sales assistant at a design company during the pandemic. This experience led her to launch her own brand, SILVANNASHEN, which aims to provide a sense of calmness and expand sartorial and emotional space for people living in global megacities. Silvanna's design philosophy is influenced by Chinese intelligence of construction and incorporates sustainable materials and minimalist aesthetics.

2. What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

My journey into becoming an artist began with a recognition of the rich artistic environment of my upbringing and a realization of my passion for design. This led me to pursue formal education in graphic design at the School of Visual Arts and later fashion at Parsons School of Design. During the pandemic, I gained valuable industry experience, which ultimately inspired me to launch my brand, SILVANNASHEN, and delve into the realm of creating transformative, minimalist designs.

3. Tell us more about your agency/company, job profile, and what you do.

As founder and designer of SILVANNASHEN. SILVANNA SHEN is the only luxury fashion brand that expands the sartorial and emotional space for adventurous, ambitious women, living in global megacities, who want an elegant escape from the clutter of urban life.

4. What does “design” mean to you?

Design means a lot, not just a simple art, but a tool to make our World better.

5. What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

I appreciate designs that seamlessly blend cuteness, uniqueness, and intuitive communication. Cute designs, with their endearing charm, foster positive emotional connections, enhancing user enjoyment and memorability. Uniqueness in design, whether through innovative visuals or distinctive elements, captivates attention and ensures a lasting impact. Equally, designs that "speak" for themselves, conveying purpose without excessive text, enhance user-friendliness. The synthesis of these elements not only creates visually striking aesthetics but also contributes to a more memorable and enjoyable user experience. Ultimately, the success of a design hinges on its alignment with the project's context, target audience, and overarching goals.

6. To you, what makes a “good” design?

To me, a "good" design encompasses a harmonious blend of aesthetic appeal and functional effectiveness. I appreciate designs that are not only visually engaging but also convey a clear message or purpose effortlessly. The inclusion of cute and unique elements adds a touch of personality, fostering positive emotional connections with users. Additionally, a good design should be user-friendly, with an intuitive layout that allows users to navigate seamlessly. Striking a balance between creativity and practicality is key, ensuring that the design not only captures attention but also serves its intended purpose effectively. Ultimately, a good design resonates with its target audience, leaving a lasting and positive impression.

7. How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?

'Simple Finals' is a manifestation of my creative motivation to bring calmness and simplicity to individuals amidst the chaos of the city. Through a flat-pack design system, the product symbolizes transformation and unity, with each bamboo stick representing strength in connection. Also an open call with the sustainability in material and the lost traditional craftsman because of the attack of high intelligence AI. The neutral color palette enhances visual calmness, and the overall thesis promotes a holistic and minimalist approach to design, emphasizing simplicity, functionality, and sustainability.

8. What was your main source of inspiration for this design?

My distinct personal style, epitomized by the 'Simple Finals' project, is a fusion of traditional Chinese wisdom, modern aesthetics, and minimalism. While no specific person or movement directly inspired my style, I draw influence from the intelligence of Chinese construction, furniture, and the vibrant energy of New York City. The joint connection of bamboo sticks in the project reflects the idea of strength in unity, contributing to a unique and identifiable design philosophy.

9. Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

Of course!

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

In my artistic research, the 'Simple Finals' project serves as a bridge between traditional wisdom and contemporary design, aiming to infuse calmness into the chaotic urban environment. Currently, I am translating this concept into my first ready-to-wear collection, continuously evolving and refining the idea for the world of fashion. Collaborating with your gallery has provided an exciting platform to share this vision, allowing me to showcase the transformational nature of the 'Simple Finals' concept across various products, from fashion pieces to furniture.

11. Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the London Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

"a o e i u ü" simple finals 单韵母 in Chinese. Everything was formed by simple finals, my life started with speaking simple finals. The first expression I learned in speaking is from a o e i u ü that fulfilled my childhood. The reason why I chose to name this collection as simple finals is because the collection is a simple, clear, one-formed piece, but it provides a feeling: of calmness through the design and forms a new aesthetic that supports the entire collection’s thesis. IT WAS INSPIRED FROM THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE FURNITURE AND BUILDINGS. THE AMAZING CRAFT HAS DRAWN ME TO THE BAMBOO MATERIAL. WITH THE AIM OF CREATING A ESCAPE FASHION PRODUCT FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN CITIES, A SPACE THAT CONNECTS PEOPLE, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND FASHION, I WANT THE IDEA TO BE SEEN BY MORE PEOPLE.

12. What were the main challenges you faced during the design process, and how did you overcome them?

'simple finals' took me a year to develop. It is definitely not a simple design as it looks, it takes time to experiment (how bamboo bends, what kind of construction should I use), and my ideas varied during the journey of designing. I took a visit to the Bamboo Village located in China, got involved with the craftsman, learned the uniqueness of the material, and was grateful for each of the last craftsmen because there's no young man who would like to step into the industry rather than 'what makes more money'.

13. How do you think winning this award will impact your future as a designer?

I am so honored! Winning this award helped me gain confidence and I am currently designing new work continuously with the idea.

14. What are your top three (3) favorite things about the design industry?

1. Interesting 2. Comprehensive 3. Daily

15. What sets your design apart from others in the same category?

No one has ever combined the idea of transferring furniture with functional and sustainable fashion pieces to wear.

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

Definitely, the combination with AI will be the big picture.

17. What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create award-winning designs?

Don't be afraid to send the application, the minute you are thinking is the minute you waste to become a better self.

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

Apply to an art school, finding a design job, and going to an atmosphere full of arts would help a lot.

19. Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

I am 22 years old this year, and I think the rest of my life will be with design till my death.

20. Who has inspired you in your life and why?

A heartfelt acknowledgment goes to my father, a seasoned designer whose influence has shaped my aesthetic sensibilities. Thanks to his guidance, I not only embraced my childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer but also persevered in its pursuit. His unwavering support and encouragement propelled me to excel and reach where I am today, even in the vibrant creative landscape of America. His mentorship not only honed my skills but instilled a resilient spirit, ensuring that I never gave up on my aspirations. I owe my creative journey and identity to him, and I carry forward his legacy with gratitude and a deep sense of purpose.

21. What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Resist the pull of judgment; thousands of perspectives mean thousands of Hamlet. Maintaining authenticity is a crucial characteristic, but equally vital is discerning constructive advice to enhance your work. Embracing your true self and staying true to your essence are paramount. Yet, navigating the fine line between preserving your individuality and incorporating valuable insights is key for personal and professional growth. Strive for a balance where your authenticity shines, but you remain open to refining your craft through valuable guidance. In this delicate equilibrium, you preserve your unique identity while continually evolving and improving in your endeavors.


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