Before founding YIWOOO, Angus used to work as an interior designer. There was one time when he had to get hold of some bamboo and rattan furniture, but was disappointed by the quality he found with the factory-made products. After realizing how few artisans are engaged in making such kind of furniture, Angus decided to give it a try himself.
This was how he started his brand YIWOOO that sells small household items made out of bamboo. Their wide selection of products includes coasters, fruit baskets, small containers, chopsticks, coffee filters, and shoulder bags.
YIWOOO means “twice” in Chinese, Angus explains, “Bamboo weaving is a very simple process in which you keep repeating the same step. One pattern needs to be woven across with bamboo strips at least twice before the structure becomes sturdy.”
The brand’s logo is written in Chinese as 二回. The first character is written in a way that the two strokes are both slightly tilted upward on both ends, this somehow reminds me of the bamboo-copter he once made. Angus says, “It came with two versions — one for the left-hander, the other for the right-hander. If you want the bamboo-copter to fly nicely, you need to find the one that fits your dominant hand.”
Different types of materials have their own unique characteristics. A durable bamboo product relies on a sturdy woven base. If it was not netted properly from the beginning, the artisans would have to unweave it and weave again. “There is a certain logic linked to the material, if you neglect the logic, then there is a chance you might fail. This logic, in a way, represents the wisdom and culture of human beings.”
The curve and thickness of the bamboo strip, the width between each strip, as well as the structure all have a mutual influence on one another. There are a lot of back and forth steps before a high-quality bamboo product is made. Before one can start with the bamboo work, the first step is to turn bamboo poles into thin strips. This is already a very complicated process that can be further broken down into these basic steps – choosing the bamboo, removing oil from the bamboo, curing, splitting the poles, stripping, trimming strips into uniform width and thickness. Angus is currently taking care of the stripping and trimming himself. Other than unifying the width and thickness, he also needs to make the sides slightly slanted to give it a better texture for our fingertips to touch. Every step is not only a practice training for one’s technique, but it is also an adjustment to one’s pace of life.
“My old job expected me to finish tasks with quick turnaround time, but my current job requires me to take it slow. When compared to the pace of urban Hong Kong, the time I have to spend on bamboo weaving seems exceptionally long,” says Angus. He did not care much about time management at the beginning, but then he realized a disciplined routine is the only way to achieve efficiency. “I generally work six days a week. I wake up at around 8 in the morning, then I would do a bit of house chores and work a bit using my computer. I start weaving bamboo at the workshop from 1 in the afternoon until 9 at night. At midnight, it’s time for bed. This is my daily routine unless I need to work outside. My life is rather boring, but bamboo weaving is, after all, a time-consuming job. I am still in an exploratory stage, therefore I need to work really hard.
“The remaining day of the week is a break from work.”
The focus of life is gradually shifting. Finding a whole new realm that you can fully engage in right before you get overwhelmed by negative energy, this is truly a blessed encounter. “The reason for me to enjoy weaving bamboo is pretty abstract. Somehow I can have peace of mind as long as I follow the logic of bamboo working.”
Angus recently launched some bamboo craft kits with 68 step-by-step illustrations for his customers to experience bamboo weaving at home. “This is a learning process. The most important thing is to pass on knowledge. Many would see bamboo weaving a complex task. I have tried many different weaving methods. The trial process was not easy at all. Therefore I would like to create something that can be easily understandable by people of all ages and nationalities. I spent a lot of time considering the best visual presentation, and to best pair up text explanations with different colors used in my illustrations. I would be totally delighted if people can make their own bamboo accessory using my kit.”
Knowledge sharing is an enjoyable process, so how does Angus see the idea of possession? “The society was not that abundant in resources in the 80s. Along with industrial and economical developments, many people began to see consumption as the solution to the lack they see in life. They tended to consume what they desire. Our generation is different. We have the capacity to share with others some good things, food, and space. If you think of it, you don’t need to possess much. Life can be more satisfying if we could be more genuine about what we need,” it is true that many of our consumptions are leading to over-exploitation of nature, “Coming to think of how my action can bring harm to other parties, I began to learn to live a balanced and sustainable lifestyle.”