Thi Nguyen


Thi Nguyen’s creative output is extensive. From the shimmering touch screen globe, Sphera, which wowed crowds at Sydney’s Vivid Festival to considered branding jobs her work dances the line between art and design. She says this blurring of disciplines is the focus of her Sydney-based practice. In recent years she has completed sculptural installations, working for brands such as semi-permanent creative Conference, and international luxury label Hermès. For more about collective magazine, please explore the following page!

Nguyen’s output draws on emerging technologies to deliver visionary, sculptural works of art that exude excitement and evoke curiosity. She says that as technology continues to alter the way in which we communicate, brands must be more creative to reach audiences, and artists can capitalise on this.

“Today more companies are open to the notion of branding being a cultural happening, and something of creative relevance,” says the 28- year-old designer.

“If brands want to keep up with, and prevail against, an ever-growing crowd of competitors, they must go beyond just creating an identity through design.”

In a globalised market where brands are venturing into exciting unchartered waters to reach customers, Nguyen sees a greater collaboration happening between the corporate and creative worlds. She says many companies see the value in sponsoring a captivating piece of interactive art because it will hold people’s attention for much longer than a billboard, and connect in a more meaningful way.

She adds it’s also an inspiring way to characterise a brand’s values, and her most recent collaboration sees her working with Hermès, the high-end French fashion house. While details of the work can’t be revealed until next year, she says that Hermès’ motivations to commission artwork reflects a growing trend in the luxury market.

“Commissions, like the one that I am working with Hermès on, have come to be seen as experimental platforms for newcomer artists and established artists, and these collaborations are a great way to work,” she says.

“As a creative, one of my main goals is to create art in a way that can affect people more than a typical design brief can, and I found Hermès to be so supportive in that respect,” she says.

Growing awareness of Thi Nguyen’s work can be partially attributed to numerous public commissions that she has had success with. In 2014, for the second consecutive year, she teamed up with Vivid Festival, in Sydney, to create a light-based interactive art piece for the event.

Nguyen describes her successful Sphera installation as a large ethereal globe that beckoned crowds toward it. The remarkably calming, wave-like light motion created by the end-users fingertips on the object was the result of some innovative technical wizardry.

“It was definitely the most challenging thing I have every created,” explains Nguyen.

“I understood how to make a multi-touch surface, but I wanted to work with a harder shape.

“Some designers dislike curves, so we gave ourselves the challenge of making a multi-touch display that was a 360 degree experience.”

Sphera took many months to complete, and was the collaboration between Nguyen and a number of professors with specialist knowledge in this form of technology.

The process behind creating Sphera typifies the way she works, through experimentation, collaboration and bending the boundaries of design.

“My main focus is to experiment. I think the best way to learn about design is to experiment and figure out what you can do for people, there are so many ways of experimenting.”

“My studio works on a range of projects from across many disciplines, one day I’ll be doing an interactive installation and the next I’ll be working on a branding project,” she explains.

While Nguyen says at this formative stage of her career she is still broadening her creative palette, she is becoming increasingly captivated by the notion of interactive architecture.

“In the future our built environment will have embedded computation, and it will be more common to interact with our cities. Right now we have an opportunity to test the waters,” she explains.

Nguyen sees cities as spaces where design and technology can merge to create positive sustainable outcomes and she hopes to work with the City of Sydney in the near future in realising some of these ideas.

For now though she is busying herself in the studio, occasionally getting zapped by her electronic work, and taking every opportunity to collaborate with and learn from others.

“My career is still in its infancy I am still discovering, experimenting, trying different disciplines, different materials and ways of executing. My work is constantly evolving and a lot of the evolution comes from collaboration. In the creative industry it is quite difficult to create something by yourself, you need to collaborate.