Ai Puts the I in Design


Emily Wong, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

image002Whether making a dress from empty cans or constructing an animal with only wire, Nancy Ai epitomizes ingenuity.

What started as a hobby blossomed into something bigger, something that distinguished her from the average art enthusiast. Wanting to help the environment but lacking money to purchase new materials, the Diamond Bar junior began to repurpose clothing from the materials she already had. Soon enough, she launched Aiparrel, her unofficial clothing line.

Although she has not established an official site, Ai occasionally sells handmade pieces through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and the online thrift shop Poshmark.

“I say that my apparel has a sense of freedom since I just start making the clothes whenever an idea comes to mind or when I get new fabric,” the junior stated.

One of Ai’s proudest projects is her Arizona Tea Can dress, layered with cut out pieces of Arizona tea cans. The idea was inspired by a pair of earrings she made out of Arizona tea can material and the styles at an Arizona clothing shop called Popcycle which features attire made from recycled materials.

In addition to her personal accomplishments, Ai has taken her talents outside her home; in fact, she has taken them out of the state.

Last summer, Ai participated in a pre-college summer program for architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, her dream school. There, she constructed two major projects: a white architectural building and a wire-only structure of a hybrid animal. The former consists of several artistic components, such as light, space, and shadow, while the latter coincides with a story that Ai conjured.

“I met people from around the world whom I still talk to, and really broadened my creativity and imagination,” Nancy said.

During her time there, she also discovered her love for green architecture, which is architecture that prevents a negative impact on the environment. She plans to make a career in it.

“I love fashion design and all but I think I can only do that as a hobby because I feel like I want [to] make a great difference with green architecture,” Ai said.

Ai credits her affinity for art to her grandfather, who taught her how to draw when she was around five years old.

“He did many traditional Chinese art[s] and loved it, and I guess that passed on to me,” Ai said.

The junior is proud of her original and unique projects that are produced in the heat of the moment and hopes to inspire others too.

“Let others improve your ideas, but never let others change your ideas,” Ai advised.