You might not think of knots as being anything other than a way to tie something up or the annoying thing that happens to your necklaces when they get tangled up, but there’s an entire other world out there and it involves fiber artist Windy Chien. After stints at Apple and owning her own indie record shop in San Francisco, Windy found her calling bringing aesthetics to the middle of function, science, and history to highlight what’s most intriguing about knots, and that’s the journey of the line. You may recall she spent 2016 learning a new knot every day of the year for The Year of Knots, which she now displays on her studio walls mixed amongst a sea of works in various stages of progress and size. Today, we pop into her San Francisco studio located on the second floor of the Heath Ceramics tile factory to see her art and space in this Where I Work.
What’s your studio/work environment like?
Serene, cozy, and clean. I’m often playing music and podcasts, and my rescue greyhound, Shelley Duvall, comes with me to the studio each day.
How is your space organized/arranged?
My studio is a private 1000-square-foot space with its own street entrance. It’s a big open space. One wall is all huge windows, and I store my spools of rope and cordage in a long row beneath the windows. Another wall, made of four sheets of plywood suspended above the floor, holds The Year of Knots, which is the project I did in 2016 where I learned one new knot every day of the year. It’s an installation of 366 knots that functions as my palette and main resource, the same way a designer or painter might have a Pantone deck.
Scattered throughout the space are seven pairs of pulleys hanging from rafters off the 20’ pitched ceiling, where I suspend each piece while I’m making it. I raise and lower the works while working, and this is how I take care of my body while enacting the repetitive, physical motions of knotting.
The entire floor is covered in bright white, wall-to-wall, faux fur carpet. I’m a child of the 1970s, so wall-to-wall carpeting is my happy place, but there’s a practical reason for it too: my standard material is white co