by Bénédicte Jasson

Geometric, colorful and abstract. Those three words summaries the work of the talented Zuoyu Shi. Student at the Parsons School of Design in New-York, Zuoyu Shi thesis is to make something cool, as the name of her last collection. When I asked her questions and saw her responses, I was completely astonished by her values. Fund of technology and aware of the way we treat the planet, her last collection is  “a 6 looks capsule collection that presents 6 different kinds of food waste: lettuce, sweetcorn, tomato, carrot, cauliflower and onion. Using household waste statistics of categories of food waste, number sets are put into data visualization codes to generate image output. I start my design from these imagery output. I manipulated them into pattern shapes and prints. The inspirations came from so many places, one of the things that helped me the most was the problem solving ideas that could interchange between different mediums I was using simultaneously.”  Using data visualization code nowadays, in an era were “Manus x Machina” is highlighted by exploring “how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the
creation of haute-couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear” seems quite relevant. Moreover, Zuoyu Shi plays with fashion with all the codes generated by this world “…there should definitely be a developed system to treat fabric waste, since it is one of the top industries to generate industrial waste. The issue should be dealt with early on in the design and construction process.” But before reading the entire interview, let me say something: this young designer is funny, smart and, last but not least, makes unique collections. Wearing her clothes is part of recreating fashion and being aware of all its surroundings.

submission fashion magazine

Bénédicte Jasson Can you first tell me a little about yourself and your studies?
Zuoyu Shi I started a BFA Fashion Design program at Parsons the New School of Design in New York in 2012, studying in women’s ready to wear.

Bénédicte Jasson How did you get into design?
Zuoyu Shi I was always fascinated by the industry and got into Parsons by chance. When I applied for the program, I did not know I will be accepted, my other option was to study finance at the time. I am glad I came to New York and studied design.

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B.J. Outside of design, what sorts of thing inspire and influence your work?
Zuoyu Shi It could be anything really. Youtube funny videos, anime, museum exhibits. Last year, I saw works of 3D and 4D printing, interactive coding and biodegradable materials which are all innovative ways to make sustainable design. I was completely obsessed and took courses on basic coding and 3D model making, that later became the main focus of my thesis graduation collection.

B.J. How would you describe your brand?
Zuoyu Shi It is fun and experimental, and aware of different things going on in the world.

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B.J. What’s your favorite part about being a young designer?
Zuoyu Shi So many things. Being a young designer especially during school, there are no restrictions on what you can make and no sales responsibility to consider. You make what you love basically. For me, I love the part of design that is essentially problem solving, and the continuous experimentation in different processes and being surprised by end results.

B.J. I love the names of your different collections. It seems very refreshing and fun. How and why did you choose them?
Zuoyu Shi It is self expression in a way, fashion has always been the creative expression of identity. So about the “I want to” collection series, I named them after what I wanted at the time and what I was looking for. I wanted to explore subjects that I find interesting and understand what is it that attracts me to the subject.

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B.J. Your last collection is called “Thesis : I want to do something cool”. What do you mean by “cool”?
Zuoyu Shi Cool, for me means excitement. When I was researching for my thesis collection, I found sustainable technology and design methods very exciting. Because of that I went into the direction of combining some of these findings into my work. I wanted to make something meaningful to me.
1 http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2016/manus-x-machina

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B.J. What do you think about fashion nowadays and the way people your age apprehends it?
Zuoyu Shi It is difficult to generalize especially in the studio, each of us approach our work very personally, focusing on certain areas and with very different point of views.

B.J. Can you please describe your creative process?
Zuoyu Shi As I mentioned earlier, I was fascinated by sustainable design technology and this has led me to learn 3D modeling and data visualization coding. My learning experience with data visualization coding was an experimentation of drawing with code, using numbers on X and Y axis in a picture frame. At the same time, I came across a project called Biolace, it is a bio-engineered plant that grows fruit and has root structured to grow into lace form, it is a projection of how to tackle with issues of food and fabric in the future in 2050. Inspired by the project, I wanted to draw my own lace using data visualization codes. It was a long process of learning different mediums,
researching and developing a system to create these final results.

Her plans for the future? To make more funny collections and I agree with her.

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photographer: Xiaoyang Jin

makeup: Tatyana L. Harkoff

model: Ya Jagne

production assistants: Qingshan Wang and  Daqi Fang

wardrobe assistant: Jennifer Dening Lee

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