Ong Cen Kuang of OCK Designs creates handmade, innovative lighting designs for every mood.
How does OCK Designs approach the creative process when designing new lighting collections?
Our core interest has always been materials first. In our case, selecting interesting materials to use in a linear experimentation is our first step. Curiosity is our ally in getting to know the materials at hand. Slowly, a unique intrinsic quality of the material will present itself, and it is our job to influence this quality to affect the visual aspect of our products and our perceptions. It has become even more interesting and has become the core value of our products.
What are some of the core values and principles that guide OCK Designs as a company, and how do these values translate into your work?
Our core value as a company is nurturing a family of artisans growing creatively together with integrity by preserving craftsmanship.
Can you talk about some of the cultural influences that inspire your designs, and how you incorporate these influences into your work?
Being a Chinese descendant influences not only my works but also why I have chosen lighting design as my career path. Early happy childhood memories of playing with animal-shaped paper lanterns at the Dragon Boat Festival at dawn in my small town have always stuck in my mind. I believe this is the beginning of my fascination with lighting and my drive to replicate and capture the emotion of the moment through my light works.
Aesthetically pleasing and functional for everyday use, how does OCK Designs ensure that the handmade process of each lamp reaches exacting international standards?
As lamps are technical products, it is essential we utilize both sides of our brain. We think rationally with our left brain when we approach developing new lighting. We make sure that all the electrical components sourced are certified for CE standard, and the electrical fittings and bulbs we use are readily available off the shelves to ensure that these can be easily replaced by anyone. We apply our right brain to the emotional side of our pieces. This is where the fun of the handmade processes, tactility, and organic shapes come into play. When we create with experimentation, more often than not, we are thinking outside of the box with our actions. Our goal is not just reaching exacting international standards, but also to create new products, new innovations, and new perspectives.
Can you tell us more about the process of linear exploration within your designs?
Linear exploration basically means that at the start of our development stages, we meticulously test the materials by introducing one technique and noting the reaction from the material. We use this reaction as a starting point for the second technique, and so on. We refrain from thinking about possible shapes until a certain technique alters the behaviour of the material as if it were a new material. This is what we find fascinating and what excites us.
Where is the intersection between art and technology when discussing OCK Designs?
OCK Designs is synonymous with handmade. We appreciate new innovation in terms of electrical parts; however, craft takes precedence.
How do youapproach sustainability and ethical production practices in the workplace, and what steps is the company taking to reduce its environmental impact?
We consider ourselves very much a part of the slow design movement. We are not a manufacturer of products; we produce our pieces in batches in our own workshop, where our artisan-made goods are crafted by hand. We refrain from using heavy machinery, and our waste is manageable. Our focus is on the people. We want to change mindsets and empower our team, building them to be part of a community of artisans who are very proud of their crafts. When we recruit new artisans, we give opportunities to anyone without prior skills. A willingness to learn is what we are looking for.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the design world, while still maintaining your own unique style and identity?
Travelling is necessary. We have all the latest trends and information in the palm of our hands, but being there at design week to experience it in person and absorb all the excitement and creative energies is unparalleled.
Can you share any upcoming collaborations that yu are currently working on?
We are excited to share that we, alongside our sister company, Jia by OCK, will be hosting a design-focused event in the coming August. Slightly different from us, Jia emphasizes home as the unifying theme. Its aim is to provide a collective retail experience and styling services that revolve around craft, design, and culture. For this reason, we are fusing our knowledge and shared passion to bring together over 40 brands to showcase their latest works in home furnishing, décor, and accessories. The event will take place at the OCK showroom and will feature both established and emerging designers, offering a wide variety of products ranging from furniture to lighting to textiles and more.
How does OCK Designs engage with its customers and community, and what role do these relationships play in shaping the company’s future direction?
It is in our DNA to be distinct in our styles, and we must keep evolving. We are grateful for all the insights and suggestions from our customers and community, especially in terms of sizing applicable to their needs. These relationships play a crucial role in shaping the direction we take as a company.
Looking ahead, what are some of your long-term goals and aspirations for the future, both in terms of your creative work and your impact on the wider cultural landscape?
One of our long-term goals, which I believe should be a collective goal for all designers in Indonesia, is to make Indonesia recognized as a country with design talents, not just a manufacturing haven.
Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences with us. It was a pleasure speaking with you!
Thanks for having me!