This Friday I went to visit the W&W Museum of Jewellery (光淙金工藝術館). It is the only museum in Taiwan devoted to jewellery production. W&W has been developing tools and machines used for the manufacture of jewellery since 1970 with brands such as Georg Jensen and Bulgari as their clients. The machinery on display at the W&W Museum reminded me of my visit to Berlin’s Deutsches Technikmuseum this summer where its jewellery gallery – one that is also a functional studio- is full of tools and technology found in the tradition of jewellery making in Germany.
As a jewellery designer (though illustrator is perhaps a more appropriate term), I have never stopped wondering what is it about my role or skill sets that could allow me to make a change to this world? While a product designer aims to create objects that would have an impact on people’s daily life, a jewellery designer – in my view – gives birth to desires and vanity. It may be true that in some cultures jewellery is intrinsic to its people’s wellbeing but nowadays most people purchase jewellery either to adorn themselves or as a valuable asset. Other times jewellery acts like a thread of memory to which an unforgettable emotion is attached.
I never see myself as an artist who adopts wearability or makes use of precious material as a form of self-expression, nor an illustrator who is apt to create the pretty look. The only thing I know is that there exists a burning desire within me of wanting to do things that inspire. It wasn’t until nearly two years ago when I was collaborating with a Saudi Arabian client on Islamic art-inspired jewellery had I realised that I could use jewellery as a gateway for people to learn more about cultural diversity and, most importantly, the different traditions, beliefs and value systems throughout the world. In other words, I should translate things that have always inspired me to tangible miniature jewel and present them to the world.
I imagine myself creating jewellery embedded with historic, cultural and educational values – pieces of work that encourage people to discover, learn and become curious again. As of now, I am designing the very first pieces of such work inspired by Chinese calligraphy. I have yet to discover how things will turn out in the end but Pablo Picasso has reassured me by believing that “everything you can imagine is real“.