(No copy infringement here, NIKE, only referring to luscious leather.) The words “air”, “sustainable” and “Beijing” all rolled into one *high-pitched singing voice* awkward sentence? Yes, it’s just as true as Xi Jinping attending last November’s COP21 UN green Paris gathering in all seriousness; and nope, your vision has not been impeded or polluted by any 500-add-the-digits AQI. This recent Beijing startup aka the AIR Collective is 100 per cent for real. The AIR studio aims to give people working or living in China’s capital – or even merely visiting the area — the space to slow down from the 2016 daily rush a little bit, as well as learn from, get inspired by, meet and exchange with different open-minded souls. Giving interesting artists and projects a platform to share and show their work and stories, especially in the fields of Arts and Crafts, comes with the dream.
Hell-for-leather founders Inna Pan and Sakura Fischer are a gang-leading producer at Rocket Science and a mad textile artist, respectively. For those sparking the multiple Looney Tune question marks, Rocket Science is a boutique production house which collaborates with numerous international designers on various advertising projects. Pan, then, wishes to create a platform which allows artists to showcase their work outside of the advertising world. Fischer, in much-needed dapper uniform (takes one to know one — wink, of course), came racing into Beijing like a bat out of Berlin and Paris not too long ago, passionate and full of ideas, with a drive for non-destructive creation (defying the original China rule: before it goes up, something must come down) and dizzying originality. The latter being a risqué yet much-needed word across the Mainland. Together, these two industrious green peons supply created the sustainable AIR collective. To the max.
The Concept, The Collective
The AIR platform quintessential swag: Slow down, get inspired, meet and greet fellow greenies-gone-wild (I just realized I sound borderline condescending here, which is by no means my harsh personal quintessence) and create a platform for sharing both work and art, or artwork — in all its surfaces. In today’s mammoth consumer society, in our gargantuan latest fashion generation, where products change at the speed of inter-seasonal collections and people no longer know about the origin/basics of things, going back to the roots can be an inspiringly insightful at hand experience. For now, AIR is offering up limited start-up program, kicking things off with a leather workshop EL Nino, run by former architects He Chuchu and his partner Chen Rui.
With their vision of pure craft-work, these two creators fit perfectly into the AIR idea of splurging more attention on time and quality, as well as literally handmade efforts. They quit their architectural undertakings filled with the need to work with both their hands and real materials such as leather and hence it’s a mesh-transparent no-brainer as to why the coveted AIR invitation to host-slash-teach a leather workshop landed on their doorstep; He and Chen ran with it. The joy that accompanies holding a finished item in their very own hands at the end of the day, that true return to traditional craftsmanship and this creative idea of long-lasting, personalized, quality items soon fashioned a new mantra manual. Fischer too shares the intention to take the time for the pieces that she creates: “By working with my hands, I can take the rush and pressure and leave them behind, concentrate completely on the moment and every little step I need to take in the creative process. Time and sharing time are swiftly becoming very precious concepts in this competitive world where it is all about money, being better and going faster. Taking the time to fully explore, really see and wholeheartedly work things out, all the while rocking to your own personal rhythm, is a thought that is seemingly lost on most. Many people wouldn’t even know where to start anymore.” Fuel to the fire.
The Program, The Purpose
The fire lighting up that inner passion, I mean. In line with their thoughtful approach (not to be mistaken for persnickety by the Debbie Downers out there; oh yes, you know who you are — and, more importantly, so do I, mwuhaha) , Pan and Fischer have made a rugged outline of the things they intend to share through AIR over the next few months. First stitch are the regular leather-craft-workshops to design different items both in collaboration with the several on hand tutors and in consensus with the participants and their ideas of what they’d actually like to create. At hand and at will, moi likey.
Second stitch forward will be a photo-workshop with Fred Dufour, a French photographer working for AFP and Co-founder of Instagram’s #EyesonChinaProject – note to self: must at long lazy last install Instagram on here. Dufour will explain and share his vision and experience in his work as a photo-reporter and, more importantly, he will show and convey why feeling, intuition and storytelling are more important in (t)his field of passion than knowing every button and detailed function of your camera. (True, winging it usually is all about the feel and none about the widgets.) Photography, for example, is all about seeing and understanding, as well as the ability to transfer your vision to others. Plus, it’s the best way to (re)discover the city through different eyes. As a lock stitch, Pan and Fischer are planning a few lectures and presentations hosted by sustainable fashion designers, discussing the importance of a new thinking and direction towards sustainability in our world. The plans all tie in seamlessly with the AIR mantra of braking and absorbing.
AIR may only feature a small program at this point, but it allows for the projects to grow step-by-step and takes the time to generate simply sound events to the max. One thought at a time. Besides, leather also requires quite the tanning process to end up on your arm.
Take note, kids:
Go hell for Lagerfeld leather; after all, one leather jacket solves many a coat problem.