Skip to main content
Design Products (MA)

Masao (Zhengxiong Rong)

Masao is a London based designer/artist who takes a hands-on making approach towards his practice. He works with materials of storytelling features and traditional crafting techniques in local context, aiming at producing and benefiting locally. Built on historical studies and ethnography, Masao creates objects that reproduce culture of a place through collaborating with crafters and communities.

Masao insists on the idea of "locality", which means materials, techniques, and process need to be sourced on a local basis as much as possible, and the project itself should have positive impact on communities as well. As an "intruder" of culture, he practices to bring traditional ways of production into contemporary contexts.

As an artist, Masao works as a member of the constellation of Futurefarmers in community-based projects, in the formats of workshops, spacial design, temporary architecture, aiming at rebuilding people's relationships in communities, engaging the public with certain discourses, and regenerating local culture.

A photo of Masao

I am interested in the connection between crafting techniques and the geographical/cultural environment that give birth to them. Such connections breed cultures and beliefs that could sustain coexistence of indigenous people and nature. However, with the traditional crafts replaced by modern ways of production, such connections are gradually lost, breaking the balance of the past people-nature relationship, forming the new relationship where human rules over nature.

My practice is about decolonizing this modern ideology through restoring such connections in production. In the modern society, it is unlikely that the "low-efficient" and labor-intensive traditional crafts can be widely accpeted, but through repurposing them and engaging audiences who can potentially make a change, we might find new positions for them. By applying traditional techniques in my works, I hope to bring different values to this world.

THE TREE builds on the English tradition of coppice, aiming at rebuilding the intimacy between living space and local geographical environment. The collection is a series of furniture that each piece is made from one single coppiced tree trunk, sourced locally and hand-processed by coppice workers in Haslemere, Surrey.

A tree trunk split in half
Peeling off the tree barks
marking measurements on wood
co-working with a crafter to make a stool
A stool
A bench
A chair
details of the stool
details of stools and the bench
details of the bench
The set of furniture


sweet chestnut, American walnut, gloss paint