A journey into the most experimental side of Asia. Chinese, Korean and Japanese designers look at a new aesthetic horizon, imbued with cultural roots and well-balanced western influences
Monday, 18 March 2019,
by VO+ Magazine
China, Japan and South Korea are three countries with unique identities. Historically, they have always had their own way of seeing jewelry. Now, a group of new designers- some already established on the international scene and others who are just making a name for themselves - are expressing themselves with a strong, unexpected aesthetic focused on experimentation but without forgetting their roots. This tangible creative whirlwind can be seen, first and foremost, in Chinese cities. « There is a whole new landscape in China, fueled by a young generation of designers that are keeping traditions alive but are expressing themselves with a more personal approach. Their Jewels are very similar to European ones, though there are differences. Traditional Chinese jewelry used characters and symbols inspired by religion and rituals. What is nice is that, though this style has become more global, the tradition has been preserved since ancient times in some ways». Stacey Huang is the founder of A-D-Just, a brand that has garnered her various awards. She divides her time between London and Shangai, creating jewels with subtle lines and well-balanced details. « Shangai is a dynamic city that really supports local creativity. Currently, there are many exhibitions and events taking place, inspiring me a lot and platforms that help designers find opportunities». The many high-speed trains that connect Shangai and Bejiing daily seem to also carry ideas and simillar influences. Danyi Zhu, the designer for Mistova, lives and works in the populous capital. He has a contemporary, conceptual style yet still inspired by the form and function of traditional Chinese jewels.«There have been many changes in the worlds of art and design in Beijing. The market has opened up, allowing creative people to express their ideas in a more individual way. It is a scene that is bold, exciting and diversified. Many designers have an international background. They look tradition in how they create, but they take it on with contemporary aspects». Wenyuan Hu, a fellow Beijing resident, had a more traditional background but then began experimenting in new ways: « In China, people also like opulent sculptural pieces along with big colorful stones. I used to design and I still design pieces like this, yet I like to experiment more with graphics, playing with the contrast between shiny and opaque».
Stacey Huang, the founder of A-D-Just
Wenyuan Hu Necklace
Danyi Zhu, the designer for Mistova
Even further East, in Japan, the Kataoka brand represents how Japanese cretive people are unique in picking up on the harmonious aesthetic and design overall and not in the details. «The creative scene in Japan is booming. There are many movements that explore different aspects of art. I think that in the next ten or twenty years, they will be even more exciting. The new generation doesn’t have the barriers that the previous one had, and with the Olympics coming up in 2020, there is a sense of optimism throughout the country. Freedom inspires creativity, and this new impulse certainly knows how to break the chain», says YoshinobuKataoka, an artist and goldsmith with more than twenty-five years of experience. This visual journey finishes in South Korea where the 1068 Studio brand - with its experiments with resin, chosen as the preferred material for jewelry creations - truly represents a new wave of designers ready to bring on a personal experimental style. The company says that there are many young, creative designers, and people are ever more interested in fashion and jewelry. «With social networks, there is less of a di erence between East and West. But the “shades” are there to be seized.» While East and West have always been distant worlds, so much so to inspire mutual fascination, globalization has led to new relationships. Though, creativity has become a more universal concept, it is deeply tied to one’s cultural background.