May 3, 2024

Designer of the Day: Han Chiao


About the Show

Han Chiao’s ceramics are replete with contradictions—classical forms reimagined in surreal proportions, sophisticated lines tempered with unpolished textures and sharp protrusions. Each one is invested with a dose of drama and emotional depth, so it’s no surprise to learn the Taiwanese-born sculptor originally studied as a fashion photographer in Paris, where she now lives and works. For her newly opened show at Manhattan’s Guild Gallery, where she’s presenting some of her largest pieces to date, she honors coarse, earthly surfaces reflective of the lovable mess of life: unsymmetrical, complex, and unfailingly romantic.


Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.

Age: 45

Occupation:  Ceramic artist.

Instagram: @han_chiao

Hometown: Taiwan.

Studio location: Paris.

Describe what you make: Ceramic sculptures.


The most important thing you’ve designed to date: Nothing and everything! They’re all independent and meaningful for different periods. It’s not possible to choose as we evolve all the time.

Describe the problem your work solves: It operates the other way around. It solves my issue as an individual’s private outlet, a way to reach out to the world in disguise. I love a secret story behind a piece of work as it can trigger various feedback or assumptions. That’s why, at times, I like to leave a piece of work unsaid, if imaginable, without justification. 

Describe the project you are working on now: I’m in a period where I’m drawn to cutting edges. I love exploring different variations of shapes. Hence, there’s an aspect of elegance, such as long silhouettes or rounded full curves. I then apply sharp edges, which are so sharp that they can be cut once the clay is fired. I use them to either emphasize or distort the initial intention. 

A new or forthcoming project we should know about: I appreciate the idea of just keeping on working, no matter the projects. It removes the limitations on my mind that create stress. I work best slow and static.

What you absolutely must have in your studio: My workspace does not function without music. Not particularly a specialist, but I adore classical music when I work—the touch of dramatic tune, dragging and ideological. Erik Satie, Chopin’s Nocturne, Bach, and Kodaly are on the regular list. Morton Feldman, Julia Kent, Irena and Vojtech Havlovi when I’m not afraid to be blue. Occasional Taiwan songs from my teen years would pop up when I like to sing along. For me, music sets a bubble in which I wrap myself: isolated, how I like it. 

What you do when you’re not working: You’ll often find me indulging in two of life’s simple pleasures: cooking and eating. I have a deep passion for culinary and savor every moment spent in the kitchen.

Sources of creative envy: Pina Bausch, Constantin Brancusi, Helmut Newton, Karl Blossfeldt, William Eggleston, Carlo Scarpa.

The distraction you want to eliminate: Envy, jealousy, and guilt. The idea of never enough: never done enough, never sleep enough, never happy enough. 


Concrete or marble? None of the above.

High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse.

Remember or forget? Forget.

Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts.

Dark or light? Light.