These two Chelsea graduates were inspired so much by London’s creative atmosphere during their studies, that they wanted to recreate a bit of it in their hometown of Shanghai. After a few years working in the creative industry, they have just achieved their ambition by opening Fiu Pump and Fiu Gallery in one of Shanghai’s most popular districts. These two beautiful spaces sit right next door to each other providing an events space (Fiu Pump being a bar and cafe area), artist residency, co-working open studio and gallery. Mika tells us more about their story.
What inspired you both to come to London to study at Chelsea College of Arts?
We both decided to study at UAL as it has the reputation of being one of the best art schools in the world. After visiting Chelsea it was an easy decision to study textiles there, we both loved the campus, tutors and workshops. We also like that it had a fun and chilled atmosphere.
How did you meet?
This is actually a fun story to share, we knew of each other since middle school in Shanghai as we have so many mutual friends but we had never met in person, only through social networks. One day I found out that Queena was at Chelsea! So I left her a comment saying ‘woah, I’m actually going to UAL too’, then we exchanged our phone numbers and became friends. So basically UAL was a platform for us to get to know each other.
What was the best thing you took away from your time at Chelsea?
The tutors at Chelsea were very kind and supportive. They taught us to be creative and open minded, at the same time they encouraged us to step out of the campus and find internships to get to know the industry.
What did you do after graduation?
I decided to move back to Shanghai and I was a creative consultant and designer to a fragrance brand SENSUS LAB. I also worked as an art and lifestyle blogger on the Chinese social media Weibo where I now have 80k followers. Queena was working for a British foundation called Frequencies Project Foundation, founded by artist Oscar Murillo. She went on tour around China visiting over 100 schools for the charity’s art project with children, before we came together to launch Fiu.
Where did the idea for Fiu Pump & Gallery come from?
At the beginning we were just chatting with the other 2 co-founders that we wanted to have a place for ourselves, do things that only we like and only we find interesting and challenging. Also we loved the art and creative atmosphere of London, and we experienced a really happy and chilled life there which we wanted to bring to Shanghaiso we decided to have a place that offers creative experience and affordable art. Our plans began to expand with ideas for an artist residency, co-working open studio, gallery etc. So we put together a strong business plan and received some funding for the gallery. That’s how we got these 2 locations. I heard that there were 7 creative studios waiting and pitching the location, but then we got it!
When it comes to Fiu, what are you passionate about?
First of all, it’s definitely what we love to do, to create and to learn. We wanted Fiu to be a creative, fun, friendly place for people to visit and to say ‘hi’. We like to bring a happy sprit to the community. I remember there’s a quote on Camille Walala’s (who I worked for during my time at Chelsea) mood board says ‘What’s Next? Making Everyone Happy’, and she said at least we should try. I think that’s what I learned from her and that’s what we want to give back to the audience, simply happy place for everyone. To meet designers and artists are the fun part too, as we get to know different wonderful people and get inspired, we’d like to create a healthy environment in China that people starts to learn art, respect art, respect copy rights and get to know the concept and backgrounds.
What’s next for Fiu?
Right now we’re preparing our grand opening of the Fiu Pump and Fiu Gallery. Also we’re opening our third location, the Artist Residency Space in Shanghai. We would like to bring some artists from London (and the rest of the world) to Shanghai and get to know the city, the culture, the people and create something representing the connection between the artist and the city.
What is the best thing about living and working in Shanghai?
I think Shanghai is a very international and open minded city. There so many possibilities in Shanghai. We like to challenge ourselves to create a creative and fun lifestyle for the people in Shanghai with our hard work. We’d like to see more culture exchange and creativity explosion happening here in the future.
Follow them on Instagram : fiu_offical