“Knots are like a language,” Windy Chien proclaims. They’re the centuries-old vernacular of sailors the world over, but Chien learned the tongue only recently. Now on what she calls her “third life,” Chien previously owned San Francisco’s Aquarius Records before going to work at Apple as iTunes product manager. She eventually left to explore her creative side.
Although Chien states that her “passion is firmly focused at the intersection of art, design, and tech,” she’d never thought of herself as artistic. A macramé class, however, got her, err, hooked on knots. “They’re functional, historical, and mathematical, but no one really looks at them as aesthetic objects,” she notes. In 2016, she taught herself one knot a day, a project described in her just released book, The Year of Knots, and discovered their expressive potential. Her permanent installations can be seen at Facebook’s Menlo Park office in California, the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, and Fogo de Chao, a Las Vegas restaurant.
“I’m most interested in the line—and the journey it takes through a piece.”
Each of her artworks—in cotton, polypropylene, or manila rope—is based on a single type of knot, like the clove hitches forming her 2016 Circuit Board series, which is ongoing. They also suggest a journey, encouraging the eye to follow a strand of rope as it wends through a piece. “I’m inspired by the Massimo Vignelli subway map, how lines travel together and apart,” adds Chien, who rounds out her third life rescuing greyhounds and, fittingly, taking “epic” sailing trips.