What's your background? "I graduated from Polytechnic University in 2005 with a degree in product and industrial design. Then I got a master's degree in ceramic design from Staffordshire University, in Britain. I started my studio [Monica Tsang Designs] in 2013 after spending a few years at a design firm in Hong Kong. Working for private companies has its limitations and I realised I wasn't able to express myself fully; I needed freedom."
Why ceramics? "I developed a passion for porcelain in 2006, after I created my Plate Tectonics series [tableware that integrates food presentation with minimalist style and architectural inspiration; it won her a Red Dot award in 2006]. The most interesting thing about ceramics is that it is unpredictable. There are many steps in making it, like modelling, glazing and so on. Only when people open the kiln and usher out a finished product can they say it has been a successful creative process. Because of its unpredictability, ceramic is a romantic material, which draws me in. Plastic and steel are materials that make you feel icy and their results can be easily calculated by computers."
Why did you decide to focus on tableware? "I enjoy eating with my family, so designing tableware makes me happy. Also, my parents work in the traditional tableware business so, from a young age, I have had this desire to improve tableware products - to make them more beautiful and modern."
How would you describe your designs? "My style is strange and bold but rich in poetic flavour. Maybe I was born with this style. My Chinese name is Tsang Ka-ki, which is a common name. But the last character 'ki' actually tells a story about me. My mother was sup-posed to give birth to me in hospital, but I was in a hurry to come out and she ended up giving birth at home. My family thought this was very strange and decided to give me the character ' ki', which means 'strange' in Chinese. I am not a conventional person and am willing to challenge the rules."
What inspires you? "My philosophy is 'live your life from the heart and be inspired by everyday life'. Ordinary things, like a photo, a rhyme, the scent of flowers, spicy food, a movie or a hug can provide me with different feelings and inspirations, which I am happy to embrace."
Monica Tsang Designs is available at Lane Crawford. For details, go to www.monicatsangdesigns.com.