Oscar Wang has made a name for himself as the brains behind the design of digital characters for luxury brands, including the Fendidi family of pandas for Fendi. He tells Tatler about his journey—and ‘random’ inspirations
He may be the son of Sylvia Chang, one of the most acclaimed directors and actors to have worked on Hong Kong, Taiwanese and mainland Chinese movies, but 30-year-old Oscar Wang is far more than “Chang’s son”. He is the founder of Shanghai-based design studio Open Work Studio, which created the Fendidi family—an adorable quartet of pandas— for Fendi in 2019; and Stella Friends, a series of endangered animal cartoon characters for Stella McCartney, in 2021.
The Chelsea College of Arts alumnus also manifests his creativity as an interdisciplinary designer and a restaurant owner. Jumping on a call with Tatler while en route to Shanghai following his trip to China’s Changbai Mountains for the Kaws: Holiday tour, Wang explains how he is creating concepts across fashion industry and beyond.
Why are projects like Fendidi important?
The panda family became very successful after we converted them to emoticons and stickers for use on social media channels like Kakao and WeChat; users like that they can interact with the characters. Unlike physical installations, these characters in the digital world can be accessed across the world; that’s the ideology and purpose behind what we do: to bring joy at that moment in people’s lives.
Now, we’re slowly creating our own digital characters and actively looking to expand their application, and also to give them more of a fashion edge, like we did with our animations for Stella McCartney, which also appeared on AirPod cases for the brand. The next thing is to see how far we can push this concept: for example, building more lifestyle items, or even creating NFTs.
You studied interior and spatial design; why did you decide to work with the fashion industry?
I’m very interested in fashion; it’s enjoyed by people of all different backgrounds. People have a genuine passion for being stylish. Merging our digital characters with fashion makes them more accepted and popular, and and gives them more of an edge, by combining cuteness and coolness. It’s like chemistry: you have to mix things up and see how it feels.
You are also the creative mind behind clothing brand Earthling Collective; what’s the story behind that?
When Covid-19 first started, my team and I felt we needed to do something—create a fun brand with a narrative. Debuting in April last year, it’s a reminder of who we are and our place on Earth; everything is created from the perspective of an outsider seeing the Earth and showcasing our world, appreciating how beautiful it is, especially during these rough times. More will come on the digital side as we are creating [digital] characters and expanding the storyline for this brand, and will show new collections through this medium.
What future projects can we look forward to from you?
I want to work with sporting and F&B brands, and collaborate on something out of my fashion comfort zone. I might open an art flower shop, which is something I’ve been discussing with the team lately [laughs]. I come up with ideas that sometimes seem random to people; but if I can put into action what I see in my head, it’s like I’m creating my own déjà vu.