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  • The Disruptive Designer

Festival of the Mind - Sheffield


Yuen Fong Ling

Festival of the Mind is a unique collaboration between Sheffield academics expertise and the creative cultural talent of the city.

Towards the memorial: After Edward Carpenter (1844-1929)- Yuen Fong Ling:

Yuens work explores the (re) making of bespoke sandals originally designed and made by socialist, writer, poet and activist Edward Carpenter. The presentation considers the act of remembrance, protest and resistance by wearing a pair of sandals..with socks.


Yuens past work combines multiple approaches to research in order to gain multiple perspectives on a specific topic, often developing new skills and self awareness by working outside of his comfort zone. Yuen is not afraid to challenge to his own senses, sexuality and beliefs in his exploratory approach to research and process, allowing the direction of findings to dictate the path itself. Often Yuen will question speculative "gaps" in historical events, through the findings of texts, reenacting them through performance art, drawings and creating narratives. This presentation explores Edward Carpenters work and philosophy in relation to a "simplification" of a proposed life style to reduce mass manufacture, upkeep, less labour and promotion of reworking and repair. Edwards actions and practice was deemed an act of activism, rebellion for the social times, however today is recognised and encouraged as acts of sustainability and design responsibility.

Yuens research and interpretation of Edwards work sparked internal questions throughout, asking him to question his role as an artist and historian, with elements often overlapping and conflicting. Yuens research through "walking in Edwards shoes" heightened his senses through the art of feeling and "seeing" through his feet and led to the questioning of the role the body interacts with the garments and the enviroment, something Edward himself questioned when he was reported as describing "clothes as coffins" suggesting the clothes close the body down and restrict tactile senses through touch. "Seeing" through feet resulted in an awakening within Yuen, resulting in him questioning the emotional and symbolic role artefacts play.

Within my MA it is my aim to explore belongingness and identity which does include theories and the emotional connection people have with inanimate objects. Listening to Yuen and his practice, has got me questioning the role of the tailored suit in relation to the body, particularly around restriction and "the coffin". If my aim to create a new reworked tailored aesthetic, then perhaps there is opportunity to liberate the body from the "fitted" bespoke suit, creating a looser and freer alternative (Thought: Could my 3D and 4D experimental draping be combined with sustainable tailoring? See previous post.) Symbolism could be explored, and the new tailored suit could be interpreted as a silent "rebellion" in a similar way socks and sandals rebelled against victorian mass manufacture of the late 1800s. Producing a "draped tailored look" could help towards my outcomes of creating content for conferences, journals etc.. The process questions the creative process and offers currency within educational contexts.