San Francisco, CA, US


Remembering Phoenixes

In the aftermath of a historic rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, including 6 Asian women killed in the Atlanta shootings, my colleague, Jenny Sun and I decided to pour their hearts into a one-of-a-kind furniture set to be auctioned to fundraise for vital AAPI non-profits and uplift Asian women in the arts.

Story Behind the Name:

This is a collection in remembrance of the 8 people who perished in Atlanta, 6 of whom were Asian women. The Phoenix is a mythological bird that represents rising from ashes and embracing the flames that were meant to take her down. The Phoenix is also the symbol of Atlanta, representing its rise from the Civil War to become a world city. The spirit of the lives lost in Atlanta, lives on in the AAPI community, in America and in the world. Three Asian women came together with the support of Scott Wynn Atelier, SmithGroup and many others, to dedicate this special collection to the Phoenixes that live on through us. 

Finding Objects: 

The main connecting piece of the set is a four-fold painted screen found in an antique store. The front side is decorated with an imaginary landscape modelled with carved soapstone that centers on a mysterious gate. Looking at its condition, the screen appears to date back to 19th century China, when the style started gaining popularity in middle class homes. Two panels from the folding screen are used for the seat of the bench, while the other two are used for the table top of the console. 

Design Concept:

The black curved backs of the bench were originally parts of two high-back chairs found on the street. Adding asymmetrical arc-shaped top rails brings the piece a contemporary look and feel. While the top rails are disconnected above the seat, the bottom rail is one singular piece which metaphorically symbolizes that "even though we look different, we are deeply connected in the same root". The red paint does not only echo the color of the screen, but also enhances this metaphor. The clear front legs are almost invisible, therefore allowing the screen and back rails to be more prominent. 

Besides the table top, the console is inspired by the ancient Chinese arts and crafts. One of them is the most important element in traditional Chinese architecture called "Dougong 斗拱", which is the complex structural element of interlocking brackets at one end of the console. The clear portion of the table top again allows the structure to be seen from different angles. The other leg is inspired by the meander motif called “Huiwen 回纹”, which is a very common decorative edge found on all types of ancient Chinese artifacts. Hui 回 means “return” so there is symbolism of cycles and rebirth. Its simplicity and positioning bring a harmonious balance with the sophisticated structure on the opposite side. If you can see the interlocking structure with three wings symbolizes the phoenix, together with the meander motif present the rebirth of the phoenix. 

Fabrication Process:

The bench was handcrafted locally by Scott Wynn Atelier, who has been designing and building furniture professionally since 1976. After the first visit to his workshop in San Francisco, Scott quickly agreed to volunteer his time on fabrication and came up with detailed shop drawings of the bench. His dedication eased the designers' concerns and time to focus on the fabrication of the console.

Due to the sophistication and available resources in hand, the designers used modern technology -- 3D printing and laser cutting to fabricate pieces that comprise the interlocking structure portion of the console. The remaining parts were handcrafted by the designers, Rebecca and Jenny, with the help from Rannie Xue who identifies herself as "a freelance DIYer who makes things with heart and hands". 

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Status: Built
Location: San Francisco, CA, US
Additional Credits: Jenny Sun, Smithgroup