We chat to product designer, Céline Loh about the Asian and Western culture that inspired her work, and the creative process. Watch part 2 here!
BA: What is your inspiration for your products?
Loh: I think for my brand, Loh has always come from a very personal place. I've always wanted it to be something that was basically an extension of myself, not to be too narcissistic! So I'm from the UK, I was born in the UK, but obviously my blood is not. Loh has encapsulated this feeling of my love for my heritage and everything South East Asian, but at the same time, there's that side of me that's very western. So it's kind of about the diaspora in a way, of just being from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. A lot of the products in the beginning were about that line where Western culture and Asian culture coincide. And then you get those kind of puns, and things which are similar and different. But now it's become a lot more about my platform for just experimenting with a twist on Asian culture.
BA: Do you have a favourite product you have made?
Loh: I think one of my favourites is my snake harness. It's not actually being sold at Brand Academy but it's a laser-cut leather piece, like you have a snake on your body. It's the most expensive piece that I have made because it takes a really long time to laser cut. It's like hours and hours to emboss every single line, but I really like that one because it took a lot of development. Initially, I was laser cutting every single scale from acrylic plastic and it just wasn't working, and then I had to reiterate. That's what led me to using leather because it's very flexible but you can still laser cut it. It's a nice in between of sheet material, but still fabric that flexes with your body. Also my personal favourite right now is one I haven't released anywhere quite yet. It's the China Town gate for your plants! I like it because it's very of Asian/Western culture. China Town itself, the architecture isn't real. It was the Asian-American entrepreneur business men in Chicago that invented this architecture to protect their area from racism and violence. I just love that story!
BA: How do you make your products? You say you use laser cutting, do you have your own machine?
Loh: Oh my god! I wish!
BA: Are they expensive then?
Loh: So expensive! They're huge too. You'd need a big house or big studio apartment. It's literally the size of a desk. Unless you've got that kind of space and money, it's not going to happen. Most of the stuff I make, I make by hand at home, but then the stuff that does need to get laser cut - I'm so lucky that I have a very helpful friend of mine, who I met at CSM. Shout out to @also_adam, who has the access to the laser cutter, and he helps me with everything. He makes very nice furniture as well!
BA: You must have made loads of great contacts at CSM!
Loh: Yeah, thank god!
BA: What do you think is the hardest thing about your process?
Loh: Time! 100% - time. Everything I make for Loh is in my own time. It's not a full-time job. My full-time job is with Kurt Geiger, or other freelance stuff that I might have going on. Loh always comes after that and I have to make time. As soon as work finishes, that is time I start making products, or designing stuff for whatever it is that I want to release next online, or with you guys at Brand Academy. I do think that if you want to do your own thing you need to make time. No one is busy! That's not a thing. You've got to make time for what you really want to do.
Part 3 coming soon where we talk about Kurt Geiger, modelling and advice to other creatives!