‘Nowadays life’s more fun

He paints, collects, creates and incorporates life itself in his designs. San Ming is a style meister or, in his words, “It doesn’t mean a thing if it’s not got that Ming”.

Interview Stephanie Pander Photography Liselore Chevalier Production Valerie van der Werff

 

 

‘We were gorgeous, we were wild and we lived like there was no tomorrow’. The words of his friend and colleague, Li Edelkoort serve as the opening sentence of the preface of his book. And it’s still true now says San Ming (62): “Nowadays everything’s more fun! I hate sentimentality — it’s too much about what has been. Things change as you get older so it makes sense the things you do change. They’re not necessarily worse. I always find something new in tomorrow, something as fun or even better than yesterday.”

“I always find something new in tomorrow, something as fun or even better than yesterday.”

‘Style meister’ is how he describes himself, and are also the words on the name plate hanging on the front door of his Amsterdam School apartment in Amsterdam-South. Ming: “My head works like a visual warehouse. I see things and store away the images to pull them up again when I need them. I don’t do anything other than let loose my vision on what’s going on. ‘What’s going on’ can relate to anything except politics. I wouldn’t say I ‘do’ art. Art sounds too serious to me. What I do is mostly called decorative art which makes it sound like a lesser art form but I don’t care. These days I’m not really after recognition; instead what matters is that all I make is beautiful and that I like it personally. I have to find my work beautiful myself. That is my condition.”

There is rigor and cynicism in everything he says. “My biggest fear? I don’t know. Who I most admire? Nobody. It’s a waste of time. My biggest secret? That I’m actually a dog? No, I wouldn’t know.”

An aesthete and a cynic. Ming laughs. “I used to be much worse. I always felt it was necessary to respond harshly and hurt people with my directness. It fits with the ambitious world in which I work. A world in which people look so much alike. But cynicism is tiring and I don’t feel the same need to lash out anymore. I no longer have need for a weapon because I rarely find myself in places or situations I don’t want to be in. I avoid people I don’t like. If I needed an inspirational quote it would be, ‘Work hard and be nice to people!’”

“We were gorgeous, we were wild and we lived like there was no tomorrow.”

And then there’s his capacity for admiration, even if it’s for things rather than people. “I find it amazing to see a plant grow. How you can cut it and it will come back! The power of nature is a miracle and I’m my happiest when I’m in the garden. Or if I wake up in Mallorca and can throw open my bedroom doors and look over the bay of Pollenca.”

Ming sits behind a big work table, a Chinese teapot in front of him with two cups. It’s a beautiful pot and so are the cups. Everything on the table has a purpose and place — nothing is by chance. His work hangs on the walls around us and the space is full of his own designs though nothing stays in one place for long. Things are always changing in the house, nothing is permanent. His work sells like hotcakes at his now legendary salons or is simply modified. “If something is hanging for a long time, I start over. If something’s ‘finished’ then it’s only finished for a while — until I change my mind. Maybe I want it in different colours. Then I take up my brush.”

“I allow myself everything because I think I deserve it. I won’t go somewhere on my bike and get sweaty. I’ll just step into a taxi and arrive fresh.”

And his greatest fears? “Anxiety prevents people from doing the things they really want in life. Stops them from doing what they enjoy. I allow myself everything because I think I deserve it. I’ve always taken this approach and will not waiver. I won’t go anywhere on my bike and get all sweaty. I’ll just step into a taxi and arrive fresh. I give myself a lot because it can be over so quickly.”

“I don’t experience loneliness as a bad thing. I’ve never been abandoned, I’m not lonely, I’ve just always been alone.”

His friends describe him as ‘a leading actor in his own one-act play’. He doesn’t disagree. “I like being alone. I don’t experience loneliness as a bad thing. I’ve never been abandoned, I’m not lonely, I’ve just always been alone. Once I knew great love, but that was years ago. Now, if a new someone were to come along, they should be such a person as to dare to claim some of the space I take up for myself. Yes — that would be quite the fight.” He falls still. Then, “Actually it’s pretty crazy there’s no one falling in love with me…”

Every so often the doors open and his house transforms into a pop up gallery — everything is for sale. “I have no trouble distancing myself from property. I am not affiliated with matter. Everything in this life is borrowed, our greatest possession is life itself.”

“My head works like a visual warehouse. I see things and store away the images to pull them up them again when I need them.”

And his own worth in this life? “I make people happy with the things I make for them. I should accept this, I suppose, but it’s difficult because I attach so little to objects myself. I don’t think things should be important — doing so can only lead to greater disappointment. That’s how I want to live: satisfied and with as few expectations as possible. That’s how I can find something great in the every day.”

Interview Stephanie Pander Photography Liselore Chevalier Production Valerie van der Werff

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed