Every artist has their medium. For Windy Chien, it’s knots. The fiber artist sat down with Interior Design Editor in Chief Cindy Allen at 12PM EST for the latest in her series of remote chats over Instagram Live, where they discussed her work, process, and the importance of artists and designers in these challenging times.
Windy’s path to becoming a full-time artist is an unusual one. A past life as a record store owner in San Francisco in the ‘90s led into a corporate gig at Apple helping to develop iTunes and the App Store. But she gave that all up to follow her creative pursuits and fell into the small but devoted community of knot lovers. She describes each knot as a letter that, when placed together, creates a language. “There are over 4000 knots,” she notes. “Each is waiting for me to find its most creative application.”
Windy was broadcasting from her studio, located above the Heath Ceramics factory in San Francisco and just a few blocks from her apartment. “My life really hasn’t changed that much, at least in the day to day,” she said, noting that she has always preferred to create in a state of quiet solitude. “I’m still working and just as busy as ever.” Cindy showed us some of the artists past commissions, including a large-scale installation of hitch knots tied around walnut rails in a Las Vegas restaurant. Windy is currently working on a similar piece for the Nobu Hotel in London.
She kept her hands busy even as they spoke, transforming a length of bright red cord into an intricate star knot, the final and most difficult she teaches in her book The Year of Knots: Modern Projects, Inspiration, and Creative Reinvention. Her reflections on that project, where she learned a new knot every day for a year, contained some wisdom for those currently experiencing social isolation and looking for ways to apply their time. “Learning something new every day feels nourishing,” she says. “It’s like a vitamin. It’s intimidating at first, but you quickly grow to love it.”
Cindy and Windy mused on the fact that, in these difficult times, the world is turning to artists more than ever to feel inspired, sane, and connected. Windy has no plans to slow down and continues to work on commissioned pieces. But she has other plans, too. Keep an eye out for some smaller-scale works that Windy hopes to sell at lower prices in the coming weeks, with proceeds going to local charities. “I think of my work as using my full heart and my full intellect,” she said. “I’m going to keep doing that, and I hope we all do.”
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