Nicolas Cheng. New PhD student in Crafts at HDK

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 03.03.2015
Nicolas Cheng. New PhD student in Crafts at HDK.
Jennie Larsson
Edited by:
HDK, School of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg
Edited at:
Edited on:
Nicolas Cheng. Chinoiseries, gold plated cloisonné, black nickel stainless steel
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Nicolas Cheng. Chinoiseries, gold plated cloisonné, black nickel stainless steel

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After working in many contexts of the crafts, art and design fields, his focus has shifted towards research and teaching. Nicolas Cheng has started his Crafts Doctoral Studies at HDK, School of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg.
- The PhD will allow me to expand and deepen my research quest within and outside the institution. My aim will be to root my position in crafts while at the same time working interdisciplinary across areas of interest -such as digital technology, anthropology and material culture- that have always been the base of my practice, and to develop new methods and processes that may be of relevance to the wider audience and international community of crafts, art and design, says Nicolas Cheng.

He was born 1982 in Hong Kong but has lived in Europe for several years. He first moved to London to study Interior Architecture and there he subsequently enrolled for a Bachelor in Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, in Holland. Upon graduation, in 2007 he spent a year as Artist in Residence at FABRICA in Treviso, Italy.

- That's when I decided to continue my studies and I moved to Sweden of all places for a Master's Degree in Jewellery and Corpus at Konstfack, where I graduated in 2010.

He was first drawn to Sweden because of the modernist design and craft heritage. After staying in London and Holland he felt that moving here was an opportunity to reflect on and expand his practice in a new context.

- Geographically, Sweden also felt more refreshing to me, because of Sweden’s position of not being at the center of Europe, and yet being very active from an artistic and creative viewpoint. I am still here because the possibilities offered me to develop and critically frame my practice as a researcher and maker.

In Sweden he discovered a very much alive discourse on “Konsthantverk”.

- That has radically influenced my way of thinking through crafts, motivating me, through my practice, to challenge crafts’ very values and boundaries, techniques, methods and context. Since then, and because of my multi-disciplinary, intercultural background, my artistic and professional development has been imbued with an openness towards contamination among disciplines and an elastic attitude as a maker.

Nicolas Cheng’s research as a PhD will focus on defining what the environment of crafts is today – physically but also virtually – and what it could be like in the future. He will particularly analyse case-studies representative of spaces, methods and contexts of making and displa where crafts not only co-exists with digital technology, but also how crafts can be preserved, enhanced and passed on through technology.

- The research has also the aim of exploring and challenging conventions of value, space, origin and site specifics of crafts. The relationship between traditional forms of crafts and technology is central to the project, particularly as it provides the room to reflect on the (de)construction of national identity and on issues of authorship and ownership.