Subversive & Niche Jewellery designers in Asia

Subversive & Niche Jewellery designers in Asia

By Isabella Yan

Subversive & Niche Jewellery designers in Asia

By Isabella Yan

An emergent wave of millennial jewellery designers in Asia are redefining modern jewellery that is avant-garde, niche and subversive in nature. They blend artistic practice, lifestyle and fashion spirit in their aesthetics. Championing ideas over materials, these jewels stand in direct contrast to the mainstream taste of the traditional Chinese jewellery industry. In place with precious metals and diamonds, they subvert conventional notions of value by experimenting with alternative materials like gold plated brass, resin, titanium and nylon.
The arrival of the metaverse is constantly pushing jewellery towards a digital age. The vibe is virtual with metallic shades that reflect the zeitgeist. These jewels have a punkish, irreverent feel, full of silvery sheens or liquid metal effects, communicating a bold sense of identity and playfulness.

A Cyberpunk Future
Oria Zhang, a Chinese born London-based jewellery designer creates a range of statement pieces, melding cyberpunk aesthetics and Asian culture with the industrial world of modern cities. The designer explores the link between “high tech low life” in a dystopian near-future, addressing themes of fast consumption in a material world. Celebrating banal objects of everyday life, she creates kitsch and playful combinations with commercialized and recognizable elements. Her Cyber Noodle Rush collection fuses synthetic and natural materials to create fluid jewels that explore concepts of value and human desire in an industrialized food industry. The humble instant noodle is translated into interlocking abstract lines that form repetitive chain links. Zhang deliberately casts her jewels in the brightest yellow gold to represent notions of human desire and mindless consumption. “I choose materials for their visual impact and meaning. I think human basic needs are becoming increasingly reliant on technology such as in the food we eat. There are so many artificial ingredients, yet people still eat it and at the same time we’ve got used to it and it’s become part of our lives.”

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Credits: Oria Qi Zhang

Beijing based jewellery design studio, YVMIN is equally playful, fun and whimsical, transforming popular, ready-made items like pasta into elegant precious pendants and earrings. Quirky and elegantly subversive, YVMIN’s irreverent style is encapsulated in a range of nose pieces, Dali-esque hair clips, electronic intercom earrings to even prosthesis as part of jewellery adornment, thus further pushing the boundaries. Traditional metals are molded into surreal liquified shapes or buffed up to a shiny silver finish for a hyper futuristic look. Jewellery is ever more intertwined with the body. Turning prosthesis into wearable art invites a level of open mindedness in a new era of inclusivity and accessibility.

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Credits: YVMIN

Shanghai based designer, Cough in Vain captures the spirit of youth subculture in China. The brand takes a minimalist and genderfluid approach to design, allowing wearers to form their own unique, alternative and undefinable aesthetic. Industrial chainlinks, crosses, cable rings to spikes and silicone hoops in cool toned metals become fascinating insights into a hip and ultra cool portrayal of new age punk. Simple silver pieces curve and hug unconventional areas of the body, from the ear lobe to the nose bridge. It’s punk meets tradition here with a contemporary twist.

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