Ching Song

English version:

VISION: Could you talk about the whole process to create the overall look of each scenery? Where did you get the inspiration?
When I walk around, even when I am rushing to some appointment, I keep attention to what is going on around me... I see people, cultures, shadows, colors, and patterns or hear noises. Sometimes, I take pictures of a small part of an object, just because I got an idea about it. When the shooting mood board is finished, I brief my team and we do a brainstorming. We start to search for props or the most adapted products to build with. It takes a lot of organization, concentration, and creativity and includes collaborations with great people.

VISION: From your point of view, whatʼs the most important vision of the fashion shooting should deliver to public? Do you think the perfect set design can instead of shooting?
A beautiful fashion shoot should deliver beauty and elegance to the spectator and bring art and fashion closer to him. Fashion has always been a very fascinating type of art, which is not only based on a designer's work, but on the creative atmosphere and mise-en-scène of a whole team.

VISION: I noticed usually you bring natural elements to set design or installation, when did you start to emphasize this inspiration in your work? Which message would you like to deliver?
I love nature, I always did. As soon as I can, I spend time outside - hiking in the mountains, watching the ocean, swimming in a lake or just going for a walk in some forest or field. The eternal beauty of nature, its multitude of shapes, smells, sounds and colors inspire me a lot. I also strongly believe in the energy of elements – people tell me often that they can feel it in my installations. So using elements like soil, flowers, wood and stones in my installations and sets comes natural and shows the power and beauty of nature, that we should never forget.

VISION: From beginning till now, have you change your design style or idea? Have you be influenced by someone or something?
Since I moved to Paris, I'm always looking out for contemporary art exhibitions and met some very interesting people. It is just great! This said, I understood that spending time in nature would not be as simple as in Munich. So I decided to keep the nature in my heart by using it in my work. I often go to flea markets in Paris, they are my favorite places ever, I always find some inspiration there. I guess, as a human being you should never stop learning and you should never stop changing. We grow with every step we do and so do I.

VISION: Which set design work made you the most satisfied?
I organized a shoot with the photographer Stefan Milev on the beach in Normandy, France. For one of the pictures, I built a wall with a cutout hole so that you can see the ocean through it. The make up artist Hugo Villard did a stunning job, the whole team was relaxed and the energy was just incredible. The beautiful model stood next to the wall, it was perfect. This is what I mean with using contemporary elements in the middle of nature.

VISION: How did you become a set designer?
I started as a stylist nine years ago in Munich, Germany. I was always traveling a lot to different countries and cities for work. When I was first asked by Vogue Germany to take care of some African props for a beautiful shoot with the photographer Koto Bolofo, I discovered set and prop styling. I was looking for some old African masks at galleries and learned about their very special history. I was fascinated! After that I found a book of Tim Walkers' photographs. I was fascinated by how much beauty lies in his set design and the way it underlined the aesthetics of a shoot. After that, I fell more and more in love with sets, decoration and installations. I went to Paris, started to work for great brands and magazines, build up my team of great assistants, architects and constructors and focused on what I believed in... And I still do.

VISION: Could you share the experience of the collaboration with Karl Largerfeld? Working together with this kind of “Fashion Kaiser”, how you express your own idea?
Working with Karl Lagerfeld has been an incredible positive experience. He is a very smart and creative person with a lot of humor who likes people to bring in their ideas. I love working with him.

VISION: You have several collaborations with VOGUE Deutschland, almost photographed by Karl, and you both came from Germany. Could you tell us some interesting stories about these shootings?
One day, we shoot in the countryside, next to Berlin. He was super happy about the location and told me some cute stories about his childhood in the country side, where he grew up. When the cow arrived that I organized for our shooting - which was already a funny and special matter itself - I discovered that cows are his favorite animals. He stopped working for a while, only to say 'hello' to our cow and so we decided to hold that moment on a picture which was than published in the anniversary issue of Vogue Germany. Guess, nobody would have guessed that cows are so en vogue!

VISION: What time did you start to do installation? What kind of opportunity at that time ?
Three years ago the jewelry designer Kira Lillie asked me to work with her on the presentation of her first collection. Kira Lillie's universe and mine have been on the same level, I got very inspired and so I decided to create an entire world around them. I was hanging a 1,80m Bonsai tree from the sealing in the middle of a beautiful gallery in Le Marais, in Paris. The necklaces where floating in perfect height on branches in front of small mirrors applied on the wall, so that you could see yourself in the reflection of the mirror wearing a necklace around your neck. We had special sound created by Hamid Bagherzadeh, about thirty white candles were lighting the gallery and light sandal wood smell was in the air. The evening was a huge success! In the middle of Paris Fashion Week people were thankful for a little excursion in this peaceful universe we created.

VISION: In your opinion, what’s the similarities and differences between set design and installation? Why they attracted you?
Working on installations and working on sets for fashion shoots are quiet different activities. This said, for me, both are about contemporary art and the beauty of nature. My installations always start with a feeling that I try to express by creating a special universe around it, using particular sounds, smells, lightning and visuals. I always create walk-in installations, an open world where all elements have to be combined in a singular way. I try to give the visitor a moment of inner serenity. In this context, my work is rather individualistic and multi-dimensional – I don't focus on fashion necessarily, I'd rather try to find a particular aesthetic. In opposition to that, sets give me less freedom of course, because they are commissioned. Everything starts with a theme chosen by the photographer, stylist or magazine. A set design is much more like teamwork, where everybody brings in his own style and ideas. I love working with a team, so I really enjoy having the opportunity to do both.

VISION: Could you tell us the current situation and trends about fashion shooting?
Sets and props are becoming more and more important in fashion. The professional eye of creating a mise-en-scene around the model brings makes a picture and movie a lot stronger. I am working a lot with photographers or clients who ask me for ideas and opinions on sets for their upcoming shoots. The current decoration trend in Paris is quite visible. It is going back to Art deco and Bauhaus elements.

VISION: nowadays the use of digital media and Internet are more and more frequent, whether you also will use these high tech to your creation?
I am not much of a digital media person; I usually break my laptop every few month! Digital Media will always be digital and never touchable, I love everything that you can touch, smell and feel – something that really appeals all your senses, not the eye only. Internet is great of course to get in touch with people and to do extensive researches, or simply to upload and present your work to the world. I was lucky to spend my childhood in the forest and fields, near my parent’s house, in the suburbs of Munich. It made me understand a lot about life. I find it a pity that so many children nowadays spend most of their time in front of a computer, instead of discovering discovered the beauty of building their own tree house, for example. So digital media is super useful, but won't be part of my creative world.

VISION: Do you have any special taste? Do you have beliefs?
I love all sorts of geometries, reflections through water, glass or mirrors, candles, ashes and nature elements as much as contemporary art influenced by Art deco and Bauhaus. I am a strong optimist, visualizing and smiling as much as I can. Seeing beautiful art pieces, photographs or films makes me happy. So I hope I can make people feel the same with my sets and installations.

VISION: Do you want to be a totally independent artist? Or have some relevant plan of installation already?
The installations I realized in the past have been collaborations with designers or magazines, which I enjoyed a lot. I love this sort of collaboration, fusing your signature style with somebody else's. I see it as a challenge to match two worlds into one! So I would like to go on doing more collaborations in the future. I love traveling and discovering different worlds, so I'd love to work on more countries and bring their cultures, religions, beliefs and local nature elements in. I want my installation to embrace different world, to fuse them into one, to give the spectator a moment of serenity. One day, somebody gave me the most beautiful compliment ever, by saying that he would like to meditate in my installation. If I can find a way to make more people feel like this, I would be very happy.