MEET FIONA AND KAIN: THE CREATIVE DUO BEHIND FFIXXED, WHERE ART MEETS FASHION. WHERE THE EVERYDAY IS REIMAGINED AND GIVEN NEW PURPOSE. A BEADED TAXI SEAT CAN EASILY BECOME THE INSPIRATION FOR A STUNNING VEST OR PAIR OF SANDALS IN THEIR EDGY NEW COLLECTION.
Their fashion line is stocked around the world, and they’re getting even more attention after being Asia finalist in the International Woolmark award this year. Alongside of this they’re also working on various art projects. Let’s face it: they are the couple you would like to be. They’re talented, passionate about their work, they finish off each other’s sentences and according to Fiona ‘Spend 24/7 together, no joke’. Their studio is in Wutong Mountain in Shenzen. Appointed by Unesco as a ‘Creative City’, it’s a place they describe as constantly changing and inspiring their work. We talked to them about the concept behind the brand, their influences and their favourite places in Shenzen.
Let’s start with the name. What’s the meaning behind it?
K: Every time someone asks us that we think, we should really think of an interesting story to tell, but we haven’t done it yet (laughs). Honestly, we just started making some things together a few years ago when we were in Berlin. We got invited to an exhibition and we didn’t want it to be Fiona and Kain. We came up with ffiXXed because it was the idea of having no fixed location, or no fixed identity and we changed around the spelling so it’s a bit of a joke in a way. It’s like something being fixed but the spelling is shifted so it’s like something not fixed.
F: And also at the time Kain was doing some X paintings, so we thought we’d include that. And we didn’t want a word that had any particular meaning.
So how did the collaboration begin?
F: I went to Berlin to do an internship with Blessed, this fashion and product design company, and Kain went to work with a gallery and to do some art projects. We just started naturally working together.
K: It was more about art projects in the beginning. It was a way of combining our different skills and resources. We were working more in an art context using techniques and material related to fashion. And then it developed to be more straight-up fashion.
What is the philosophy behind ffiXXed?
K: We wanted a project that was completely integrated between different areas of life, personal, work, leisure, all integrated and continuous. It’s very responsive. It’s not like a lot of ideas about fashion, where it’s about escapism or has an element of fantasy. It’s very much about everyday and responding to the everyday and trying to make things that enhance everyday experiences.
F: A lot of people ask us if you can explain it in few words. Enhance everyday basics, that’s something we often say.
What are some of the inspirations and influences behind the label?
F: We draw a lot of inspiration from daily life. In China and in Hong Kong. Sometimes the translation is obvious and sometimes not. But it’s always there.
K: One of the things that was really interesting for us when we moved to Asia is there is this whole kind of world that exists. There is this kind of resourcefulness, reusing things. Making chairs out of buckets or…
F: We saw someone using a basketball and they cut it in half and then they used it to store water (laughs).
K: There is something particularly Asian about this resourcefulness. If you’ve got a basketball and it’s no good you don’t wanna throw it away, you want to reuse it. This is a good source of inspiration and ideas for us, but it’s not the only one. We travel a lot, so there’s also a lot of influence from outside of Asia. It’s just whatever is happening around us wherever we are.
How would you describe Shenzhen and how has it influenced your work?
K: Shenzhen is a city that in the couple of years we’ve been here has completely transformed. Whole areas that didn’t exist before exist now, and other areas have had a complete facelift. Where we live in this village it’s also happening on a more micro level. I think it’s just the process of renovation that influenced autumn/winter 2013, with the images of the partially demolished house.
F: It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The population now is 15 million. Thirty years ago it didn’t even exist, it was just a fishing village. It’s growing pretty quickly.
K: There’s a creative community here. There are other designers based here. There was the Shenzen/Hong Kong Architecture Biennale this year, which is really big. Stuff is constantly changing. That’s very unique to places like China as opposed to Europe or Australia. Things happen here on a whole other scale, level. There’s never a dull moment.
One of the main attractions is SPA culture. You get to check into the spa for up to 24 hours. You have unlimited sauna and spa, and afterwards you change into these pyjamas and go into this general lounge area where you can watch TV. You get delivered fruit and drinks and you get massages. It’s cool because everyone’s in their pyjamas in these lounge chairs and it’s like a giant slumber party. Sometimes there’s a bowling alley or a restaurant, or there’s a giant cinema where you can watch a movie while you’re getting manicures and pedicures. (Fiona)
It’s an art cultural scene, with cafes, galleries and select shops. It’s an old factory area, but the factories have been renovated. There are architecture offices, design studios, retail…Our friend has a really great shop there selling independent local designers. There’s really good coffees, a really famous bookstore. It’s the cultural hub of Shenzen. (Kain)
This is where you’ll find Chinese new money. Lamborghinis and BMWs parked outside back-to-back bars and clubs that all have different themes. There’s a super club with décor like a cathedral and instead of strobe lights they have flashing chandeliers and stained glass windows. They try and think of the craziest shit. Not only are the venues looking crazy but they have crazy live performances, like a Chinese Michael Jackson with these S & M bikini girls. And maybe a Chinese Kenny G with a saxophone, coming out in a camouflage outfit. It’s in really bad taste but then you get into it. (Fiona)
Our friend has this shop called Little Thing and it’s super sweet. They have a lot of independent designers from China and Hong Kong, Chengdu. They also do a fashion magazine. It’s in OCT. And our other friends have a shop called V Major, which is above Little Thing. He started his own brand there. It’s really nice. He studied in London for several years.
Room 104#-108. NO.F-1, Industrial Park(east), OCT, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, Tel. 0755-8610 2584
My Noodle is by Kenneth KO, a flamboyant architect interior designer from Hong Kong. He’s like 70 years old and he’s got blonde hair, super tanned, a body builder. He’s released his own soft porn book that is banned in china. All of his restaurant and cafes are done in his signature design style, which is quite amazing and extravagant, and changes every month. It’s an eclectic kind of mix of themes. But it really works. And this place has really good noodles, fresh, hand-pulled. (Fiona & Kain)
Honey Lake Holiday Village Amusement City, Futian District, Shenzhen, Tel. 0755 8305 1942
Barack Obama has a half brother here who has a really successful chain BBQ restaurant. His selling point is he’s Barack Obama’s half brother. In this area there are all these different BBQ restaurants and everybody is just like us ‘Where is the one that’s Obama’s brother’s restaurant?’ Everybody goes there. We go there as well. Because why would you go to the other ones? (Fiona & Kain)
Interview by Stephanie Ong