Shirley Tang

ORIENS’s namesake is a revisiting of the Latin roots of 'Orientalism', shedding complex cross-cultural negotiations and imposed fantasies to return to a place of purity. Framed within the movement of Futurism and beyond, the name’s root meaning of “rising” of the eastern rising sun depicts a visual, action-based imagery of the sun rising from the horizon, a motion forwards and upwards, extending past the horizon line in both directions between night and day, past and present, constantly moving into the future in rebirth.

This Thesis serves as both an expansion of the ORIENS world, and a meaningful return to its roots and origins— as subversion of its modern meanings by revisiting its origins, to imagine forwards and upwards in ways both unbounded yet tethered to its past and future. Fusing the continued theme of Futurism informing the designer’s work with the recurring motif of circularity, this collection focuses on the designer’s current fascination with the paradoxical duality of “Future” and “Ancient”, and its cyclical continuum as manifested in various forms, such as Neofuturist and Modernist design vs. Neolithic objects, as well as reigning cinematic depictions of “Future” as rooted in ancient “oriental” culture.
This collection’s research and design process also serves as a personal, meditative and reconnective exploration of the designer’s own past and cultural heritage as it intersects with myth, storytelling and narrative through artifacts and the action of “finding”. Particularly, the intersection of ancient Chinese myths and legends of space, sky, life and death rituals stand out as main points of inspiration, such as the myth of moon deity Chang’e, sky bound ancient Dunhuang cave paintings, and burial Bi disks that accompany the dead into ascension towards the afterlife. Recontextualizing these found objects and glimpses of mythical tales, unshrouded through conversations with her family, these “relics” becomes relearned in new perspective to become objects of “Future Archeology”, mementos unbounded by time.

Seeking from these myths that grip upon our imaginations and extend boundlessly past time, they now evolve as circular, at once of the past, of the future, of fleeting nowness. Women are transformed into deities and enchantresses in this new world, portals of power and sensuality, Obelisks, Monuments, adorned and revered. This constructs the founding ground for the new “ancient” within the world of ORIENS.


Shirley Tang is a Shanghai born, Vancouver raised and New York based artist, and the designer and founder of ORIENS. Her personal background, and its connection to the idea of evolution through spaces and time propels her design intentions, which focuses upon the movement of Futurism and explores it within its various facets and connective, dichotomous identities. Her design language is sensual, body-central, and intensely detail focussed, rooted in her core view of creating as a way of presenting and embellishing the body with reverence and intelligence, and are explored through intersectional means, spanning garment, sculpture, metal work, accessories and 3D printing and VR worldbuilding.

Shirley launched her label ORIENS in 2020 post Junior year, which has grown to encompass celebrity-stylist custom works, collections stocked at SSENSE and APOC, and has been met with major press reception with interviews in magazines like Vogue and i-D, editorial features in Numero Netherlands, King Kong, Office Magazine and more. The designer herself has also recently garnered finalist positions in the CFDA Scholar Competition and Pierre Cardin Young Designer Contest.