Elaine Yan Ling Ng, the founder of THE FABRICK LAB, she brings together textiles, electronics, biomimicry, interiors and installations. She is a British Chinese visionary multi-media artist and a graduate of Central Saint Martins in London where she earned her MA Design in Textile Futures with distinction.
1. What brought you back to Hong Kong?
I have travelled a lot and I felt Hong Kong is a giant melting pot of different culture, it is so cosmopolitan that it can cater hybrid business model. Having lived in the UK and China, I think Hong Kong is a great gateway to both eastern and western market for art and design. On top of that, Hong Kong used to be very well known for its textile industries. I wanted to take this opportunity to see if I can help to revitalise textile in Hong Kong or in the pearl river delta region. I really want to share my textile passion with everyone in the knowledge of Hong Kong.
2. You have a background in designing cars, how did you start working in the textile industry?
I actually have a degree in Textile Design, I did both my BA and MA at Central Saint Martin, specialised in weaving and have a Master in Textile Future, study how textile can benefit our future ways of Living. I am very passionate about material research and textile is so versatile, the technique itself can be applied in the cross-disciplinary area, from fashion garment to architecture applications.
3. Can you tell us more about The Fabrick Lab and what your goal with the company is?
I have set up The Fabrick Lab six years ago with a studio based in Hong Kong. The Fabrick Lab is a textile consultancy that pushes the boundaries of textile and maps its future. Our key pillars are innovation, sustainability and smart fabrication.
Our goals are to create impact across textile industries through various sustainability programmes and as well as raising awareness of climate change. We believe there are many ways to create an impact. Interactive installations can open up conversations through gamification; cultural initiatives can open up a new social platform for more new work opportunities; smart production can help to reduce waste and have a direct benefit towards the environment.
We often guide our client to build a system and work out of their traditional comfort zone to discover their potentials. This includes an area of green material, work with nature’s by-product.
Also, we are the only professional weave lab in Hong Kong in the past 6 years we have been buying new textile machinery to equip ourselves into a fully equipped textile prototyping studio like a mini-factory. A lot of factories had moved to China in the early 90s, I wanted to revitalise the Hong Kong textile Industry through weaving. We help our client to shorten the prototyping stage and allow them to have more time to spend on conscious design such as picking the right raw material that is kinder for our environment. Our textile services cater to a wide range of customers, from the private client for bespoke, developers for installation to interior designers for projects.
4. You’ve worked with some big brands and companies, what has been your most challenging project to date and why?
There are many challenging projects in the past, in particular when we build an installation, every time when we build an installation, we have to come up with new ways to build and fabricate, often face time challenges. Out of all the projects, I must say our heritage research initiative -Un/fold is the most challenging. In the past 6 / 7 years, we have been building an ecosystem to help mountain villagers to get out poverty through a sustainable social ecosystem to celebrate their heritage craft through design. We have to spend time to understand their culture before tap into their livelihood and find the right way to help, and most importantly it takes time to gain trust.
5. What are the biggest challenges in achieving sustainability in the textile industry?
The biggest challenges in order to achieve sustainability in textile or in any material design industries are to build the supply chain and ecosystem well. It takes time, trust and the right business acumen. Recently I have been appointed as Chief Material Innovator for Nature Squared, they are 20 years in business and they are one of the pioneers of working with Nature’s by-product. They have set a great example of working nature’s by-product with a great supply chain. We are currently working on a very exciting collection, with eggshells, to create a new circular economy for nature.