Listen to this article
Tim Yip’s distinctive aesthetic – a style both avant-garde and traditionally Chinese, which he describes as “New Orientalism” – was central to the look of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), for which Yip won the Oscar for art direction. He was also responsible for the film’s costumes and won a Bafta for best costume design, the first Chinese person to win either award.
With influences that include ancient Chinese religion and philosophy, his is now an internationally recognised visual language.
Born in Hong Kong, Yip graduated from the city’s polytechnic with a degree in photography before working as an art executive on John Woo’s 1986 film A Better Tomorrow. He worked with Woo again in 2008, on Red Cliff, the highest-grossing Chinese-language film made to date. Most recently, Yip was production designer on the 3D martial arts movie Tai Chi Zero (Stephen Fung, 2012).
In 1993 Yip turned to the theatre, prompted in part by his disillusion with the film industry’s commercialism. He designed the costumes for Lin Hwai-Min’s 1996 production of Rashomon, and the following year for Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde directed by Lutz Graf, both at the Bühnen Graz Opera House in Austria.
Yip was the art and costume director for the Beijing handover performance at the Athens Olympic Games closing ceremony in 2004. The following October, he provided the decor for the Kennedy Center in Washington DC during its month-long Festival of China.
His work has continued to be multidisciplinary, encompassing television, commercials, fashion and installation art as well as films and the stage.
An exhibition of Yip’s work, Silent Passenger, is currently showing at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing.
Born in Hong Kong 1965. At 21 he worked on the 1986 John Woo film A Better Tomorrow
Breakthrough film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000) for which he won the Oscar for art direction
Get alerts on Design when a new story is published