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  • Supernature signs for Spark

    By Stephanie Fawcett

    A Shanghai-based design company, which says it is heavily influenced by New Zealand’s natural world, will be among the presenters at Spark 2010, Wintec’s international festival of media, arts and design.

    SuperNature is a multi-disciplinary design company founded in 2008 by Billy Wen Hao, Lin Yew Cheang and Yeoh Guan Hong. All three have spent time in New Zealand but are now based in China where they are best known for designing and creating interactive art installations.

    They will return to New Zealand for the Spark festival which runs from August 9-13 at Wintec’s Hamilton city campus, with support from the Asia NZ Foundation.

    In China, Yeoh says the company usually works to create ‘moments of engagement’ between the client and their audience.

    “Most of our work in China is interactive work,” he says. “We work closely with the clients and think about them as we design. We want to challenge them to think with more creativity and we want people to experience something unique.”

    The three men have worked extensively in design in Asia and New Zealand. They met at the Wanganui School of Design where Lin Yew and Yeoh were teachers. The pair later co-founded the New Zealand-based design studio Hyperthesis.

    Lin Yew is an interactive designer, media artist and graphic designer; Yeoh graduated with a masters degree in computer graphic design. Billy, who specialises in graphic and multimedia design, grew up in Shanghai but previously worked as an art director in New Zealand. Before starting SuperNature with Lin Yew and Yeoh, he co-founded Shanghai’s What-the-Five design studio.

    Yeoh says that he likes to work closely with clients to show them that there is far more to the world of design than they think. “In China, a lot of our clients know they want good technology,” he says. “But they don’t pay attention to design and we hope to educate them a bit on what is good design.”

    2010 has been a big year for SuperNature with the trio designing and creating interactive installations for Kuala Lumpur Design Week 2010 and Converse in China.
    The ‘Windcatcher’ installation for the Kuala Lumpur Design Week featured a handheld pinwheel that visitors were encouraged to blow on. The wind energy was then converted into visualisations in which colour and movement changed depending on the speed and flow of the air.

    The company has also been invited to do a new installation for the IQ Centre in Paris.
    “We’re excited because we haven’t had the chance to show in Paris yet,” says Yeoh. “Most of our work has been in Asia and we really want people to experience this kind of installation.”

    SuperNature’s design philosophy is heavily influenced by elements from nature and the team is always searching for new and interesting ideas in the natural world.
    “We all lived in New Zealand for many years and nature was a big influence on our designs,” says Yeoh. “Lin Yew and I both researched the environment as well so nature and the environment have had the biggest influence.”

    The team’s shared cultural heritage has also affected the way they interpret their designs. Yeoh and Lin Yew were born and raised in Malaysia but they are of Chinese descent. They say moving to Shanghai has given them the opportunity to learn more about the culture and their own heritage.

    “I was born in Malaysia but my grandparents were Chinese and it’s exciting to learn about [the culture],” says Yeoh. “There’s so much we can learn from it because of the history.”
    He says the three men are looking forward to the Spark Festival and are excited about their presentation.
    “We’ll be showing how we design an installation,” he says. “We’ll show the progression from idea to production and the final result.”

    Spark will feature presentations and workshops by artists from in the fields of film, fashion, photography, graphic design, music, painting & sculpture, TV media and journalism.
    For further details or to arrange an interview with SuperNature, contact Susanna Wilford, Spark Project Manager, 07 858 7508 or by email to susanna.wilford@wintec.ac.nz