Born in Taipei, having studied in Milan, and now based in Shanghai, Ning (aka Kang Yung-Ning) is a designer and entrepreneur whose intercultural experiences have broadened her mind and shaped her creative interests. In the past, she’s found success as a high-end menswear designer, stylist consultant, and lecturer. In more recent years, she co-founded XSPLUSLAB, an eyewear brand designed specifically for kids, and Speechless, an online fashion and lifestyle platform. Eager to learn and experiment, Ning’s career path has been a path filled with many twists and turns. Even now, it’s difficult to define her job roles and responsibilities, which might change on a day to day basis. She sums everything up by simply saying, “It’s a bit complicated!”
Despite her cross-disciplinary interests, Ning has been able to balance all of her creative and entrepreneurial pursuits. Unsurprisingly, when asked what she would prioritize to if she had to choose between her personal life and work life, Ning went with the latter. But she admits, it’s often difficult for her to determine where one ends and the other begins. “I discover inspiration for my work everywhere in life,” she says. “It might come from spotting a row of interesting buildings, a particular floor tile, how random colors interact with one another, graffiti art on the street, or even a fallen leaf.”
In early 2016, Ning met Vic, an eyewear designer. At the time, Ning worked full-time as a menswear designer. But the two had a mutual interest in using their respective expertise to create something fun for kids; this resulted in the idea of designing playful eyewear for children. To their surprise, the project – initially created just for fun – received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. This success would sow the seeds for the two to launch XSPLUSLAB not long after. Their vision for the brand is simple – create eyewear for stylish kids and adults with a child-like sense of wonder. But aside from simply designing glasses, Ning aims to communicate an underlying message of “Never grow up.” She hopes the brand can help foster creativity in the youth and inspire people of all ages to live their life without constraints.
2016 年初，Ning 碰到了她现在儿童眼镜品牌的合作伙伴 Vic，那时的 Ning 以从事男装设计的工作为主，而 Vic 是个很资深的眼镜设计师。因为两人对于小朋友的生活方式有着共同的想法，他们以做着玩的心态设计制作了一些儿童眼镜，没想到反响非常好。此后，两人就将这个概念发展为了现在的 XSPLUSLAB，一个专为有自我主见的酷小孩和童心未泯的有趣大人设计眼镜和配饰的原创品牌。而制造眼镜之外，Ning 也更想将这种“不想长大”的生活态度传递出来，和大家分享勇敢创新、充满创意的生活方式。
Aside from XSPLUSLAB, a large portion of Ning’s time is dedicated towards Speechless, an online platform that curates a collection of quirky lifestyle and fashion-related stories. “On one particularly hot day, when I was walking around town with my friend, I noticed a group of older folks in public with their shirts rolled up, revealing their stomach. To me, it felt almost like a fashion statement. I thought it was so much fun, but I couldn’t quite explain why. Not long after, I realized I had other interesting observations and ideas about fashion that I wanted to share. And so, Speechless was born,” she says, explaining that her long-term vision is for the platform to grow into an archive of stories that’s able to captivate people of all professions, races, cultures, and genders. “Maybe it’s a naive idea, but we’re open to everything. On this platform, I want people to not worry about ‘stepping over boundaries.’ There shouldn’t be any!”
说起 Speechless，这个 Ning 一手创立的线上生活形态资讯平台，背后还有个可爱又有点搞笑的小故事。“当初和朋友走在街头，看到夏天时大叔们因为天气闷热，把衣服卷到肚皮上散热，一群人站在路口形成有趣的‘时尚风景’，觉得说不出的逗趣景象，加上自己有许多对于生活趣事和时装及美感的看法想跟大家分享，于是便有了Speechless。” Ning 想借助这个平台，和一群对新鲜事物充满好奇的人们分享资讯，他们不按常理出牌，喜欢打破沙锅问到底，勇于打破常规，当然还有，充满幽默感。Ning 希望透过 Speechless 推广一种没有边界，跨产业、跨种族、跨文化、跨性别的理念，创造一个单纯且有趣的意见交换与分享平台。“在这里因为我们单纯而开放的多元精神，大家不必在意互踩界线！哈哈，因为我们也没有界限！”
“I’m both a dreamer and a dream maker,” Ning tells us. “I’m interested in sharing my experiences with people eager to learn so that they can make it closer to their own dreams. I think the best way to live life is to keep an open mind about everything. Kids and adults think differently. Adults already have preconceived notions about many things in life, but kids are different. They look at things in a different light – they don’t see limitations.” Ning often reminds people to retain their child-like sense of wonder about the world, to be receptive to different ideas, and create by thinking outside of the box. She wants people from all walks of life – especially designers, stylists, and fashion enthusiasts – to see that life can be lived without the mental limitations we often place on ourselves and spread the message that by harnessing our creativity, we hold the key to unlocking endless possibilities.
“我是一个梦想家（Dreamer），也同时是一个梦想实现家（Dream maker） 。因为我在做梦的同时，也会把自己的经验传达给很多学生，帮助他们更靠近梦想。” Ning 和我们分享道，“我觉得最有趣的生活状态就是对任何事物都采取开放的态度。”所以 Ning 常提醒自己用小孩子的态度对待世界，“孩子的生活和成人的生活不同，成人对事物已经有既定的印象，可是小朋友不一样，小朋友没有带有色眼镜，也没有任何的限制。” Ning 希望用更开放的心胸和更多元化的想法去创作，把这种没有界限的生活方式带给所有人，包括设计师，和那些对时尚和设计有热情的人们。
If you’re interested in checking out more designs from Ning and XSPLUSLAB, they’re now available at the POY Art Designer Concept Store.
Aegean Shopping Mall
1588 Wuzhong Road 1F 123A
Minhang District, Shanghai
People’s Republic of China