Taking on the fine line between experience and design, Caroline focuses her intuitions on the communion of spirit and object. After a string of projects designing hospitality experiences, Caroline has now taken to product design in hopes of informing the larger schemas she’s often immersed in.
Across designs one can say her style bears no formal approach, yet remains familiar in nature. Her reconciliations often employ lighter elements - juxtapositions, color motifs, that then provide a latticework across for accord, arrangement, and scale. Sitting down to speak her attire speaks to the vibrancy her approach, followed through with her clairvoyant approach of moving inspiration into execution.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Caroline Yang and I work as an interior designer. This past year I joined a craft and product design program at the National Taiwan University of Arts, and prior to enrolling I worked in hospitality-geared branding and graphic design projects, primarily for hotels.
How Did You Get Interested In Design?
I wasn't quite sure what I would be doing when I entered university, and I took some time abroad to study in NYC. While there I discovered a breadth of opportunities within the field and upon returning transferred into a branding and interior design program. That was five years ago.
In the grand scheme of things I’ve always liked the communication aspect of design. It provides a home for a voice and identity, and my work builds upon this through digital and interior design platforms.
How Do You Approach Design?
Design is all about context, and every project will present its own challenges and complexities. I enjoy resolving issues of identity driven through creative means, often marrying concepts across spatial and aesthetic principles. Each new project is an opportunity to remind clients that there are things money cannot buy, and that’s where good design can make a difference.
“you sometimes have to reconcile many items that you may not have much control over, and it takes care to pull things into harmony.”
What Is Something You Do To Stay Inspired?
I collect a lot of things, nowadays a lot of second hand furniture. Sometimes things someone might have dropped in the street on accident, or perhaps things they have discarded because they have no use for them.
Beyond momentary fascinations, having a wide assortment provides good reference and a friendly reminder that you don’t always have to come up with new ideas. As of recent, I’ve fallen in love with the design of Twining’s Tea boxes, and have been referencing them for the design of the second floor in a traditional restaurant.
Other than being a collector, is there anything else that you draw on for inspiration?
I often think about my childhood, specifically my experiences with my father and his exports business. Some days he would travel to the US, other days to Japan. He would bring back curious objects and stories that to this day I still daydream about.
Sometimes he would bring me into his office, and clients would come by to discuss customizing an order or commissioning a new design. I would assist him with the product drawings which he would then take to the factory. That was probably my first formative design experience, and beyond inspiration this gave me an open eye into understanding the constraints associated with design.
It Seems Like You’re Able To Execute A Lot Of Concepts Successfully. Would You Attribute This To Working In Taiwan?
I think about that a lot. Much of what I do is made possible by the people I work with and the good faith they bring not just into projects, but everyday life.
Can you elaborate on this a bit?
You know, it could be two o’clock in the morning, and it’s safe to just walk in the street. People here are so kind and it's something I cherish.
I sometimes travel to New York, and despite having a lot of friends, there are places I wouldn’t imagine going past midnight. Not because it’s not safe, but because it doesn't feel welcoming.
How do you begin your creative process? What do you do when aclient comes to you with an empty building and says, “I want you to do design for the interior.”
I bring my sketchbook everywhere. I usually sketch out a first draft to give some character to a space, and then turn to color to really define the feeling. When these sketches connect with the spirit of the brand, then I know I’m onto something.
How has your style changed over time?
It’s a very tricky question. Different projects need different concepts. If it really came down to something that defines my approach, I would have to say it’s in the color.
My friends have always said, “Caroline, you just have your own style.” I personally don’t know where my style comes from. It works like intuition, I know it when I smell it. It’s in the details, and these details should touch on one’s imagination.
In your words, what defines a successful brand?
I design for a number of businesses, and what often makes or breaks execution is how the personality of a brand translates not only the into details, but the overall system. When crafting an identity for a hotel you sometimes have to reconcile many items that you may not have much control over, and it takes care to pull things into harmony.
One project I’m reminded of is the Chez Nous Hotel. Chez Nous, in French, means “welcome to our home.” Throughout the interiors, from lobby to restaurant, to the individual rooms, there are many opportunities for conflict. Different use cases, color palettes, different eras of furniture and fixture. To achieve cohesion in an ecosystem like this I focused on simple elements that could connect and reconcile, and the result is something like an homage to the personalities found within a household, each room taking on a character within a family.
Is there anyone you look up to within your community?
I have something of a godfather here in Taiwan, an architect of sorts that brings a lot of different projects through. I recently worked with him on designing a bookstore, and it’s always inspiring to see which ways he will challenge and break the rules of convention. I try to meet with him a few times a month and just chat about what adventures he’s up to. Maybe he will bring me onto new projects, but for now I’m focused on wrapping up my course work.
One last question - do you think your style is Taiwanese in any way?
It’s Taiwanese, because that’s what I am!
Thank you Caroline for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with us. We hope to see more of your work out in the public space next time we are in Taiwan.