Imagine having a successful corporate career and walking away from it all to become an artist. It’s something many of us dream about, but few actually ever take that leap. But artist Windy Chien was able to muster the strength to do exactly that. Discovering talents like Windy is probably my favorite thing about Apt34. Women like Windy – with vision, passion, creativity and drive constantly leave me in awe. I recently had the pleasure of touring Windy’s San Francisco studio where she is twisting the art world into knots – quiet literally.


Windy is making art out of knots and it is absolutely stunning. It all started in January of this year, when The Year of Knots was born. Windy is teaching herself and creating one unique knot each day and assembling  them all into a gorgeous installation in her studio. They are sometimes based off traditional knots, sometimes explorations. Windy starts every day in the studio with a knot, noting that it helps her achieve her creative flow for the day. It’s become an important ritual in her daily life. And the result is just so cool. Some of her knots incorporate a piece of brass hardware, some lay flat, some are multi-dimensional. She has created a handful in a beautiful black cord – a truly modern take on an ancient skill. Color me obsessed.


But what’s even more remarkable is that rope as a medium wasn’t Windy’s initial goal. As she explained during my visit, she simply wanted to flex her creative muscle, actually exploring multiple art forms before discovering knots. Upon her departure from corporate American, Windy tried out all kinds of creative avenues; pottery, painting, wood carving (her hand carved spoons have also garnered a cult following. Whenever one goes up for sale, it’s gone immediately.) But then Windy discovered knots – yes with rope – like what is often used on a boat – and she was hooked. Upon researching the history behind knot-making, Windy began to see knots as their own form of language. Each knot conveys a purpose, a meaning and tells a story. I totally love that. It’s as if her studio wall is an entire novel with hidden secrets about human history. The knots also just look really really amazing.

But the Year of Knots isn’t Windy’s only project. She is also creating gorgeous knotted lighting and wall-hangings. Each one is unique – many are bespoke commissions created specifically for their recipient. While the wall hangings are certainly reminiscent of 70’s macramé we’re seeing everywhere these days, I love how modern, clean and updated Windy’s pieces feel.


Most recently, Windy has taken her work to even greater heights by doing large scale installations in hotels, office buildings and public spaces. I for one would love to be able to walk beneath a Windy Chien piece every day. For now, I will continue to follow her on Instagram and drop into her Mission-based studio for a little creative pick-me-up. If you’ve been looking for an example to inspire you to chase that seemingly crazy dream – Windy is your woman. She’s proof positive that if you put all your energy into doing what you love, you just might be surprised by what falls into place.

Thank you Windy for letting me spend a truly inspiring morning with you!

If you’re looking for even more inspirational women doing super cool stuff check out this post, this post and this post.

And if you like these kinds of posts please let me know in the comments below. If you’re down, I’d really love to get out there to bring you more stories like this one.

original photography by michelle drewes


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