About Chia-Hui Lu

Chia-Hui Lu is a passionate musician and artist. She is a pioneer in Taiwan’s cross art scene, a composer, a music director, producer and a renowned concert pianist. As the Chairwoman of the Egret Foundation, Ms. Lu continues on the organization’s 28 year tradition in promoting music and culture in Taiwan.

Interview with Chia-Hui Lu

Chia-Hui Lu ("CL") interviewed on Tuesday, 15 November.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

CL : 
I am a classical pianist by training and have performed in many concerts around the world. As the Chairwoman of the Egret Foundation, I am deeply involved with the cultural and educational aspects of art. I eagerly lead our team in the continual effort to promote music, culture, and art not just in Taiwan, but globally. Through engaging artists from different fields, we are able to open doors to new opportunities to create new art. Today, I continue to multitask as a community leader, performer, designer, composer, and producer. Over the years, I’ve published two piano albums: “Enchanted” and “Amore”. In the cross arts field, I was the Executive Music Director for “Sayion I” and “Sayion II”, where I composed and arranged music for the interactive new media theater productions. In these two productions, our team incorporated 720-degree VR and 3D motion-capture systems. I curated “Impression of Taiwan” for the Art Taipei Expo.XR Obsession is another production that I debuted at theExpo that combined a live piano performance of music and dance in an extended reality 4DViews volumetric capture new media experience. For my personal piano recital, “Water on Fire”, we combined Western classical music with Eastern poetry from a Taiwan poet, Goya Lan.As the producer and art director of a classical repertoire, “Amore”, we reinvented paintings by Paul Chiang, transforming it into animated 3D visuals. More recently, I curated the Sacred Garden as a partner of the international Ars Electronica Festival 2021. Recently our short film productions were featured in several international film festivals.

How did you become a designer?

CL : I believe I started listening to music even before I was born, in the belly of my pregnant mother as she prepared and performed a piano concert.In childhood I often played and slept under the piano. The piano is my castle and music has become my religion.Classical Music to me is essential like motherhood and air. I started my classical piano training at the age of five. I later studied in New York City, where I fell deeply in love with opera and had the opportunity to study fashion and Musicals. New York City has changed my life completely.

Growing up was not easy. I had asthma and lived through a period of social unrest where I was separated from my parents and fell under the care of my grandparents. My late grandfather happens to be a renowned painter in Taiwan and a world traveler. His paintings include both western and eastern styles. I used to be his little helper and modeled for him. I grew up with artists and musicians. Art and music is a basic part of my life. I once interviewed Pianist Gary Graffman and asked him what drives him to continue performing. He told me that music is his core and that he will never stop. But after an injury, he explored other ways to enrich his life. His friend Leon Fleisher on the other hand would go to the ends of the earth to try to heal his injury so that he may perform. I was born with asthma and my tailbone was injured at the age of twelve. Though playing the piano may be at times physically demanding, it always brings me great joy. Music saved me mentally and I will never let go despite my injuries. Inspired by Gary Graffman, I started exploring composing, theater, exhibitions, and film. When one door closes another opens to you. I have become a multi artist.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

CL : In general, there are no set rules for my design. I do try my best to make sure the structure, colors, proportions and dynamics are properly balanced. The simplest way to answer the questions is, as long as the design sounds, looks, and feels good. As to music composition design, I do start the blueprint with main themes. A theme is like the engine in the car, the heart of the body. I may have a primary theme and secondary theme. I develop themes and do all kinds of variations and transformations. I also build transitions and connecting bridges to combine the two themes. Sometimes I will reverse or twist the direction of themes or merge the themes. There are many different ways to play with the themes. I believe that I am the most creative while asleep. I’m a night dreamer. I can have episodic dreams spanning nights. Most of my ideas and inspiration come from my dreams. I have had this ability since childhood. It’s a blessing and a curse. The negative is that I barely get any rest at night. I would wake up tired and sometimes stressed out so early in the morning. Once I dreamt that a lion pounced and ripped open my chest. The shock awoke me to find myself with heart pain. I have noticed that dreams do affect me physically and mentally. A number of my compositions and themes to my productions and stories have directly come from my dream.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

CL : I feel all kinds of emotions. When I design, it is like an extreme emotional roller coaster with constant ups and downs. It can be heaven and hell. 

Creating is like having a baby. It may take a long time just to get pregnant. The pregnancy cycle is long and hard. Sometimes you may even experience miscarriage. And you will have start all over again. But when the baby is delivered. The joy of giving birth to a new life is beyond words.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

CL : With my classical pianist training. I am very used to long hours of practice to hone in on precision and perfection ahead of a concert. I am very detail oriented and expect the "The devil is in the details”. Many great masters' music were rewritten, revised, rearranged and republished numerous times. Some compositions have taken decades to complete. Some were composed at a young age and revised at a late age. Many were also rearranged into specialized forms for specific instruments. The new revised Amore version is now in production. I want the next generation of Amore to be immortal and hopefully the outcome will be an art in itself. Life is short but art is forever.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

CL : As a dreamer, wherever the dream takes me that’s where I will be. As a leader, I have to keep myself grounded. It’s a conflict of interest and a constant battle with myself. Going forward, I will continue to expand my artistry in the global stage, incorporating music, visual art and new technologies.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

CL : When I was injured, I had no choice but to set aside my performing career. I thought my life was over. But I tried to stay positive and threw myself into exploring cross art productions. At first I was very frustrated because all my experiments failed. My family and friends told me maybe it’s time for me to step down from the stage and take some time to rethink. But I didn’t listen and just kept on trying until one day, I succeeded. To me, I have learned that “Failure is the mother of success!” When you fail, don’t give up. All you need to do is to keep on trying. I believe when one door closes, another one will be open for you. Another important realization is that trying to outdo yourself is much harder and lonelier than you ever had imagined. So you must learn to relax from time to time and try to stay positive when you are down.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

CL : Always have an open heart and accept new things. Stay hungry, curious and focus! Never stop learning and constantly observe your surroundings which may be the important keys you need to unlock your creative success. Humbly learn everything you can from nature, history, and experts. Be bold and fearless!Embrace your uniqueness and stay true to yourself. Artists will always believe in themselves despite countless obstacles and criticisms thrown at them. Rules are made by people, so don’t be afraid to be different and break a few rules. Stay focused, work hard, play hard and create hard.

What is your day to day look like?

CL : Classical music is my wake up call and lullaby. I start my day and end my night with Classical music. I usually do stretches and simple exercise day and night. I sometimes listen to the bible while I exercise. I teach piano and practice piano during the daytime. I do my creative works and compose wherever and whenever it comes to me. There’s no set schedule for creativity. I follow my mood a lot. I frequent concerts and performances. I love visiting galleries and museums as well. I am surrounded by music and art all the time. But my friends are usually not artists or musicians, which is OK. Because I believe you need friends outside of the artistic world that can keep you grounded in a good way.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

CL : Keen observation and constant absorption of new materials is very important. One should never stop learning. I try to visit museums, expos, galleries and participate in all kinds of performances, events and shows as much as I can. I also keep an eye on current trends locally and globally. I believe it is ok to see what others have done, but more importantly one must develop their own personal style to grow as an artist. Many composers, artists, and designer’s styles change and mature over time, so you must improve your style over time.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

CL : Though there are standard check boxes to tick off, I also judge a design based on my instincts and feelings. Everything matters, so you have to look at the full picture. Whatever catches my eyes first. Sometimes it is color, sometimes it is the format, sometimes it is the titles, sometimes it is the story behind the work. It really happens every time and is not simple to explain. Sometimes it’s love at first sight. Sometimes it grows on you.

A good design impresses you. As time goes by the impression may fade, but a great design touches your heart and stays with you forever. A great design always stands out, is very unique and perhaps one of a kind. 
A great design will also speak to you and will make you contemplate it. It may even touch your soul and solidify a place in your heart.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

CL : A design can go on forever with aesthetics, style, functional, enhancement modifications. It can always be perceptually improved and hence having many versions or iterations of a design makes sense. But at some point, you may have to deliver something. Hence there are some benefits to having deadlines as perfection is a moot point. But with any design project, you give it your all and upon completion, if you feel proud of your work, then you know it is ready.

What is your biggest design work?

CL : I am very fond of "Amore". Amore, to me, is an avant-garde production created to elevate the artistry of performing, conceptual, kinetic, digital, video, and abstract art. Paintings by Paul Chiang are 3D animated and catalyzed to life. The metamorphic moving art intertwines and interacts in a marriage with its soul mate, music. Though the focus is love, it also unites human emotions (Joy, Anger, Sorrow, Fear, Love, Hate, Affection) alongside eastern elements (Gold, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth) to create a dramatically diverse western classical music performing art. All in order to achieve a mutual interdependence Yin-Yang balance.

I want to highlight that pairing and synching appealing multimedia animations to music and then to debut it together in a live performance is enormously complex. But I am a firm believer in innovative works and in pushing the envelope of artistry to elevate the overall level of performing art.
 Though Performing Art is momentary in action, each live performance is never the same, and that is the beauty of it. Through post-production work, Amore was edited, documented, and preserved via fine art archive films.Music to me is like a faith or a religion. Music and art purify your body, mind, and soul. Music and art also inspire, triggering the inner voice of creativity. Through creations, musicians and artists can leave a cultural legacy to inspire future generations. With Amore, I wish all the believers in love, a happy life and may all your dreams come true.

Who is your favourite designer?

CL : My favorite composers are Debussy and Ravel. They are the fresh air of Classical Music. These French masters established impressionism in music, setting them apart from the traditional German-Austrian Music. 
My favorite artist is surrealist Salvador Dali. He is full of ideas and surprises. He is crazily wild inside out. No one creates and thinks like him. He is beyond genius. My Favorite fashion designers are Alexander McQueen and Jean Paul Gaultier. I love Alexander McQueen because his dresses rock. He isa genius, but he is way too young and talented to be gone with the wind. My favorite architect is Antoni Gaudi. He is a dream and fantasy builder. His architecture is the Disneyland for adults. 
Plato once said Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. Although Plato is neither a musician nor an artist, he certainly understands the power of music. I would like to meet Plato to discuss music and art. I would like to meet psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. He met with the famous composer Gustav Mahler. I would like to find out more about their meeting session. And I would love to discuss with him about all my dreams.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

CL : My country, Taiwan, is the soil of my mind and has a great influence on me. Taiwan is an island, abundant with precious resources and has been influenced by early explorers/settlers such as the Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese. Taiwan is the nutrition and DNA of my creations. For example “Butterfly Orchid”, an award winning work, came to me in a dream after I had visited the Tainan Orchid Garden Exposition. Taiwan happens to be both the Kingdom of Butterflies and the Kingdom of Orchids. Youngsters always want to be away from home. But when you get old, people always want to go back to their homeland. It’s mother nature calling. The homeland will provide people with a strong, powerful foundation. People can be more focused, centered and rooted. The air, the soil, and the people are the direct influences. Each country has its own culture and uniqueness. But in order to broaden one's views, designers should be open in many aspects and should travel and explore more to become a more worldly designer.

 I believe I started listening to music even before I was born, in the belly of my pregnant mother as she prepared and performed a piano concert.In childhood I often played and slept under the piano. The piano is my castle and music has become my religion. Classical Music to me is essential like motherhood and air. I started my classical piano training at the age of five. I later studied in New York City, where I fell deeply in love with opera and had the opportunity to study fashion and Musicals. New York City has changed my life completely.

Growing up was not easy. I had asthma and lived through a period of social unrest where I was separated from my parents and fell under the care of my grandparents. My late grandfather happens to be a renowned painter in Taiwan and a world traveler. His paintings include both western and eastern styles. I used to be his little helper and modeled for him. I grew up with artists and musicians.Art and music is a basic part of my life.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

CL : This may sound odd to you. I am both a day dreamer and night dreamer. I feel most excited during my sleep because that’s when I get creative. I am doing my dream job during the day time and I dream about my work at night.
 Dreamers like me don’t usually plan. Even if I set my own rules, I often end up breaking them. I see myself as an artist and musician. Like all artists, we seek for some kind of immortality in our work and compositions. I believe some opportunities are given by chance with the blessing from god. My challenge is to strive to outdo myself every time. This I found can be a lonely and hard journey. My team tells me that I am highly demanding when it comes to work and creation. I have worked with many different artists and experts from various fields. I realize that it can be very tough on my team as I pursue perfection. I constantly feel guilty and deeply grateful for all their effort and devotion. As we all know, the talented ones are usually hard to handle. It’s not easy to work with talented people as they are individually unique and very opinionated. As a leader, I often have to learn to compromise and let go. Because each production has its own schedule, deadline, budget and limit. Communicating with people is an art itself, which I am still in the process of learning.
 The collaboration with varying artists from different fields is always a challenge.With many projects, the beginning is usually smooth with everyone on the same page. As individual tasks are completed in parallel towards the goal, you realize that each artist's perception of the end goal changes as if we are all from different planets. This is amusing, but a reality. Finding the right way of communication is the key to bringing the team together in order to get them back on the same page and to redirect them towards the goal. As a dreamer, wherever the dream takes me that’s where I will be. As a leader, I have to keep myself grounded. It’s a conflict of interest that I am constantly battling with myself. This is the price I have to pay for being both an artist and leader.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

CL : I believe music and art designs should serve a higher purpose. It can purify your body, mind and soul. It can also inspire, triggering the inner voice of creativity. As we traverse through this dark pandemic episode, music and art designs should provide intangible comfort on the spiritual level, to inspire hope and inner strength. I wish I can continue to elevate music and art to soothe and to induce our inner creativity, imagination, and explosiveness. Throughout history, people have used music and art to convey their beliefs, inner thoughts and emotions. Sacred music was composed for religious and societal influence. Music proved to be especially powerful in its use in courtship, prayer, worship, sacrifice, divination, and primitive rituals. One can understand how music and art can be extremely robust mediums that can help accomplish goals of significant importance. Nowadays, music and art is omnipresent and in my view, diluted, through mainstream entertainment, commercials, social media, and memes. I believe the role and responsibility of an artist is to refocus the unbounded potential of music and art for a higher purpose. As technology advances, we can imagine even greater possibilities to produce new innovative performing art. And we should embrace technology with a healthy blend of humanity’s warmth and meaning. Otherwise art will fall to the hollowness of AI or the shallowness of pop society. Artists should bring music and art back to its original high value and high importance state, where it may emanate profound influence and appeal.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

CL : I certainly learned a great lesson by submitting my work to A’design award and competition. In the process of submission I learned how to convey my ideas and core value of my work in a professional manner. The AI checking and score system certainly trained me to follow the rules in a good way. After winning, the PR package is overwhelming. This is all very new to me. The benefit is greater than I had imagined.

 On behalf of the Egret Foundation, we are truly humbled and honored to receive the A’design Awards. The recognition from such a world renowned and prestigious competition fills us with great pride and achievement. Since the win, it has boosted our confidence in our ability to create works with international appeal. The award has undoubtedly fueled our drive to create even more meaningful art pieces in the future.

Chia-Hui Lu Profile

Amore New Performing Art

Amore New Performing Art design by Chia-Hui Lu


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