Jialun Xiong | There’s An Honesty In The Moon, And We Like It

Via The 25th Anniversary Issue, Under The Silver Moon

Written by

Annie Winerip

Photographed by

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Styled by

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Jialin Xiong. Skeleton Counter Chair. Materials: brush stainless and boucle. Dimensions: 21” x 19” x 34”. Photographed by Ye Rin Mok.

Los Angeles-based designer Jialun Xiong creates mostly in shades of black, white, and gray. Her pieces are minimalist. But that’s not where they end. They exude a surprising warmth. With nuance, their clean lines pull you in. Xiong is originally from Chongqing, China which inspires much of her work, bringing Chinese aesthetics to Southern California. Parallels, duality, and contradictions play largely in her furniture. 

The desk lamp in Xiong’s collection, “Building Blocks II” is striking and classically Xiong in its minimal, sleek form. The brushed-stainless steel attaches to the side of the table, shooting up until it makes a right angle, holding the bulb squarely over the desk. The design allows for the light to be cast directly down onto the workspace. She elaborates that this is based on “honesty of material and the purity of form.” It is both, in the sense that the components are simple and it feels as if the lamp was born to illuminate your work to the point of inspiration.

Your work has become renowned for its dual nature, balancing restraint and graphic boldness, drawing inspiration from the cultural richness of your hometown, Chongqing, China. Could you share insights into your intentional choice to infuse Chinese aesthetics into your designs in Los Angeles? 

Almost all the design decisions that I made were very intentional, then became second nature to incorporating Chinese aesthetics subtly during the design practices. This may stem from a desire to celebrate cultural diversity and bridge communities. How do we tell the design story and how do we experience the space? Can I find a way for locals to see the objects and receive the messages that all come from one fundamental and neutral place without bias? So, I need to be convinced that all the design components or combinations no matter form, shape, pattern, texture, material, finish or aesthetic–it has to be connected on a deeper level. 

Jialin Xiong. F. Half Table Lamp (Black) Materials: powder-coated golden black. 20’’ x 11’’ x 17’’. Photographed by Ye Rin Mok.

Are there instances when generating new ideas for your designs proves challenging? Where do you typically find fresh inspiration? What advice do you have for emerging furniture artists aiming to express their identity as creatively as you do?

I haven’t run into generating issues so far, but it could be very challenging sometime in the future. All the projects, shows or collections are created in particular circumstances and it becomes the rules and frameworks that force me to work with. Always designing with context. I’m not super excited to create anything in a total blank space. I do believe that people could push themselves more and be more creative if there are boundaries or rules they need to follow, or find a way to break through. I will create the system for myself if there is nothing. Always create with restraint. Speaking about inspirations, my upcoming restaurant project has pushed me to dig into traditional Chinese cuisine from thousands of years ago that I’ve never experienced before, so how can I design the space and transform it to present? I often benefited from the research process for the projects, everything I learned became inspiration. What I learned from the past is just a simple method: be true to yourself and be honest during the creative process. The only way (at least for me) to keep us producing and performing is to create something that you are excited about. It’s hard not to be influenced by all kinds of information, but this is going to be a long journey. Follow the originality and accept the complexities as an individual, try not to underestimate the power of the complex layer that you learned from yourself, this makes all of us different and it will become the strength.

How do you define the essence of minimalism as represented in your furniture designs? In your perspective, how does the growing trend of minimalism in the fashion industry relate to contemporary audiences? 

I think the minimalist appearance of my work is the result of the whole development process. All the pieces have nothing to hide. Often stripped down to their simplest forms, I encourage viewers to appreciate structural details and negative space that is often overlooked with added flair. The rise of minimalism in fashion to contemporary audiences could offer simplicity, versatility, and timelessness. Aligned with sustainability and quality, it allows individual expression, resonating with the mindful consumption trends but hopefully we can expect more craftsmanship in minimalism as well. 

What about you thrives after dark?

Just as others who believe challenges bring out resilience and determination, I tend to thrive in difficult situations by learning from the experience. I’ve noticed that my abilities to find beauty in complexity and embrace ambiguity allows me to thrive in the shadows of uncertainty. It’s within the ‘dark’ moments of the creative process that my vision started to progress, sculpting the narratives and designs that wouldn’t have emerged in a more predictable light.

Jialin Xiong. Left to right: Folds Single Sofa. Dwell Side Table. Skeleton Counter Chair. Half Table Lamp (Aluminum). Kaleidoscope Dining Chair. Photographed by Ye Rin Mok.
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Jialun Xiong, Flaunt Magazine, Issue 190, The 25th Anniversary Issue, Under The Silver Moon, Annie Winerip, Art