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Catching up with designer Christine Fwu

Christine Fwu (BDes 2020) has been busy. During her time at Emily Carr University, Christine was Editor in Chief for the Woo, bringing the creative student-run magazine to life as well as a Designer and Researcher for the Health Design Lab. Since then she’s tackled graduating during the pandemic, commercial clients, and finishing up her grad project, Pressed Ephemera.

With an interest in the intrinsic meaning and beauty in handmade processes, Christine approaches her work by leveraging critical thinking and history. “As a designer, I love to find ways to incorporate handmade processes in any project that I take on,” shared Christine. “I believe that technology is truly amazing in putting new visions to life, but going back to using your hands to make something really gets you to think more carefully about how and why you make.”

You can see the handmade quality in Pressed Ephemera. The physicality of pressing a stamp to create patterns, fading ink dependant on pressure, and the human touch. Christine explains that Pressed Ephemera came to life through her immense interest in handmade and printed materials along with the old styles of design and aesthetics that were created from the past.

Designer & Handmade Processes. Image courtesy of the designer.
Recent Project – Grad Thesis (process book, journal, pamphlet). Image courtesy of the designer.

“It is a research and process-based project that begins with a deep dive into the design styles from the periods of the 15th – 19th century,” she continued. “Then the project moves into the most important aspect of my experience in the making; this is where I learn the old processes of making and remake my designs my hand.”

Christine’s attention to detail is evident in the logomark. “If you look in the middle are a few lines that symbolize a press that presses down on the matrix to imprint onto a printed material,” she said. The logomark was one of the most important finishing touches for Christine, having planned it early on. Although the pandemic interrupted the completion of the project, Christine was able to finish the project in August on campus with the foil stamper to bring this project to fruition.

“I actually just got the chance to go back to school to finish off my grad project, so I am very grateful for that!” shared Christine. “I was able to make my handbound process book filled with my journey throughout the entire project as well as my risograph journal which includes the handmade processes I went through.” The journal includes some reflections of her experience in the making. Christine emphasized that the most exciting part was using the ‘Pressed Ephemera’ stamp she made to foil stamp on the covers of her printed items.

Woo Publication – Extra. Image courtesy of the designer.

Christine’s interest in the handmade extended to the experimental student-run magazine, the Woo. “My favourite issue while working on the Woo as the Editor in Chief would be Extra,” said Christine. “My Creative Director, Triet Pham (BDes 2020) and I set high hopes to create a publication like no other; we wanted this one to really stand out and embody the word extra.” This was the beginning of Christine’s exploration into the old styles of design and researching printed artifacts.

“I became intrigued by the idea of a printed book and the possibilities of what it could be,” explained Christine. “Triet and I wanted the viewers to experience the book like opening a present, and interact with each fold of the poster wrap while visually taking in the design, to then open up to the book that is wrapped inside.” Christine continued to explain that the execution and design of the poster wrap included a lot of hand folding and testing before the prototype was made. “This process, like many handmade processes, required an immense amount of intention and care,” she said.

Venport Olive Oils. Image courtesy of the designer.

Since graduating, Christine has taken on a commercial project for Venport Foods’ new brand identity. The olive oil labels showcase her immense attention to detail and love of the handmade as evident an homage to the symbology of a rooster in the handlettered Venport logo. “The Barcelos rooster is a Portuguese symbol for ‘love of life’,” shared Christine on Instagram. While Covid-19 has slowed down export, it’s possible we may see these labels in Vancouver stores one day. “I had an amazing time self-directing the project and I am quite proud of how they turned out,” said Christine. “Creating these labels has also made me realize that I am especially interested in packaging design, and I find a lot of joy in creating visual identities for new products.”

As for the future?

“I would love to work for a studio that cares a lot about their clients and their stories, and puts intention, meaning, and care in developing each and every project,” said Chrstine.

To see more of Christine’s work, visit her website or Instagram to connect.

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