Duration: Maxim Cormier and Xuechen Fan started ori.studio in early 2016.
Location: Beijing, China.
Education: Master of interdisciplinary design at NSCAD University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Career path: We both love actively participating in the design process so much that there’s nothing else we’d want to be doing. Without love, it would be a lot more difficult to get anywhere.
Cultural influences: Living and working in China, where we both see and feel change happening all around us. This has an impact on our work. It’s critical to move past this singular societal direction where the drive towards modernity stands above all else and look at how we can use our sense of place to influence the future at the same time. We are influenced by relevant contextual elements, which we then interpret, decode and incorporate into modern design.
Work environment: Our studio is located within one of Beijing’s neighborhoods with hutongs, or narrow streets commonly associated with northern Chinese cities. The space we work in was once a home, but is now physically divided into two main rooms, which are occupied by an architectural practice and us. Since moving into the space, we’ve developed a friendship with our neighbors, and the door between our rooms is always open. In addition to the interior culture of our space, the culture of the surrounding hutongs is important to us. The raw, culturally sound, human-scaled and focused area is enlightening at every turn. We’re sure its imprint will be seen within our future assignments.
Approach: We attempt to incorporate elements from the data collected, a wider societal outlook and our own personal input, which stems from ranged perspectives. Then, the information is defined and reinterpreted by us, and put into a final result.
Aspirations: We’d like to have more cultural clients and work on assignments that give us the freedom to explore aspects of a culture or society that we are interested in. It would also be nice to have a more clearly defined methodology and to expand more into digital work.
Philosophy: Context-based thought enables us to orientate ourselves in a certain direction. When we pair this with a forward-thinking, contemporary approach, we’re able to generate artifacts that represent a “composite culture,” a concept made up from the duality of modern application and real-life considerations as well as cultural context. We hope that China can generate its own form of modernity from this composite culture, which at its core will utilize domestic theory and thought, but be modern and incorporate all contemporary functional requirements in its application. We hope that we can achieve this in China in our own small way.