We recently featured 25-year old Octavia Xiaozi Yang's latest collection 'Joinery in Jewels', and had a chat with the young graduate of the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art and London College of Fashion to find out more.
With which materials are you most interested in working with and why?
I am interesting in mixing different materials like metal, colourful stones, perspex and wood. And I prefer to keep a balance between elegance and vivacity. Based on my fine jewellery design background, I'm used to working with metal as part of the design. The surface of metal is strong enough to show the quality of jewellery. Furthermore, I prefer to add colourful elements to my designs which expresses my breezy attitude. In this case, colourful stones, perspex or painting are the best choices. But I do not like to be limited by material. I believe the concept is the icon of design, so it just depends on what my idea is and how to express the concept.
What brands or individual pieces do you like, or take inspiration from?
Bulgari, I'm inspired by its amazing colours. Anna Hu, the pride of China. Naomi Filmer, a creative and top contemporary designer in the world. She inspired me not just with her work, but also her personality. She pushes me to be one step ahead of the top contemporary jewellery designers in Europe.
How are you acquainted with Naomi Filmer?
She was my tutor before and we are close friends now. I even call her Naomi Mama sometimes, because she likes organising everything when we hang around together! She's a really strict and creative tutor, she's takes care of all the students.
Do you intend to begin selling your pieces? If so, would you consider doing so in China?
Of course. I plan to design a ready-to-wear collection of 'Joinery in Jewels' and I will focus on the European and Chinese markets.
Would you reduce the size of the pieces for a ready-to-wear collection? If so, how would that affect the overall aesthetic?
It would be the same size as the smaller pieces in the 'Joinery in Jewels' collection, so it won't be reduced a lot, but much easier to wear.
Do you think that Chinese attitudes towards jewellery differ from those in the UK? If so, how?
Yes. Most Chinese people treat jewellery as a presentation of wealth. In the UK, people think jewellery presents your attitude towards life or your personality. They care about the design rather than the material. And in Europe, jewellery also can be an art. Some contemporary jewellery can't even be worn on the body or is made of temporary materials, like ice. It could be considered to be action art. But I believe the Chinese jewellery market will change fast in the next ten years. In the Asian contemporary jewellery field, there are many talented jewellery designers in Japan. Their combination of traditional Japanese culture with modern styles inspires me deeply. And the more research I do, the more confidence I have to develop contemporary Chinese jewellery. There are so many great traditional cultures we can develop into contemporary design, not just in terms of shapes but also in the artistic sense and spirit. Or, Chinese designers can create new traditions before the backdrop of new China.
And where do you stand on the matter?
I think jewellery is a woman's best friend. It doesn't matter what kind you like, the important thing is that women choose the jewellery which represents their personality and attitude to life rather than following trends.
What is your plan for the next 5 years?
I plan to create my own brand which focuses on contemporary Chinese jewellery. China is a big market. We need more quality jewellery brands which are founded on both Chinese and international backgrounds. Right now, I'm looking for professional partners to group into a team for running my business.