Anabela Chan is a star of contemporary jewelry. She descends from four generations of directors and filmmakers in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Anabela arrives at jewelry through architecture, fashion and art. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2013 and she received five prestigious awards. In this passionate interview the chinese designer tells us her special secret for create Haute Couture jewelery at the Costume jewellery price and she reveals us her biggest dream. She has recently opened her first flagship store in London Ham Yard Hotel and collaborates with Christie’s for special private sales.
Why do you choose the jewelry to express your creativity? What fascinates you?
I am forever fascinated by jewellery for its longevity and ability to tell stories. Jewellery does not change, it cannot decay; it is a way of holding tight to something magical and personal.
Many of your creations are rich of colour and full of energy , the same characteristics that we find in nature . Clearly Nature is your very first source of inspiration but the inspiration subjects are all real or is there in them a good dose of imagination and fantasy ?
Nature is my wonderland and I think the most beautiful colours, forms, textures and geometries are found in Nature, an endless source of beauty that forever fascinates me. I find my inspirations from my extensive travels to the exotic and the orient, collecting gems, stories and treasures along the way from local markets, nature and the intriguing people I meet. I love to dream; when I am designing, every collection is like a chance to create a world unto itself, a fantasy, an imagined place. I like these places to have the bewildering nature of a dream, at once familiar, recomposed of remembered histories, yet strange and untravelled, beguiling the viewer to take the curious journey.
Your jewels have the haute couture allure but with costume jewellery price. How can you achieve this result, Could you reveal us your secret?
I want to create magical, fun and fabulous jewels that tell stories. I use the finest craftsmanship in haute joaillerie to design and make fantasy jewels that are accessible – using a combination of precious, semi-precious and lab-grown stones that are optically and chemically the same as natural stones. It is about offering inspiring, beautifully-crafted jewellery with longevity that are accessible, works of art that are loved and treasured forever. (not just this season!)
Have you participated in several contests and won many awards . Which was the most formative experience that brought you luck?
I graduated from the Royal College of Art this year and is lucky to have won 5 prestigious awards. If I had to choose, 2 of my most rewarding experiences are from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain which sponsored me to train and qualify as a diamond grader; and being a finalist at ITS for the international exposure and the chance to work with incredible stylists and photographers like Panos Yiapanis and Steven Klein.
How does fashion influence your work and mainly your ideas?
I previously worked in fashion for 7 years, designing prints and embroideries for Alexander McQueen and AllSaints London. Fashion has the ability to bring together incredible talents with different skills and backgrounds, I love this collaborative way of working and I have always loved creating special pieces for fashion editorials, where there are no limitations on wearability but only pure visual exuberance and imagination.
Could you tell us something about your future projects ?
Beside developing and presenting my jewellery brand to a wider international audience, Atelier Future is an initiative I set up in 2013 that dedicates 10% of my profit and time to assist in the training of jewellery craftsmanship to rescued victims of modern day slavery. I believe the power of making is also one of the most healing process. The training we provide forms a vital part of the rehabilitation process for the rescued victims of slavery, through the development of skills to rebuild self-value and identity, and in time to aid in establishing a purpose, hope and new life for the people’s future. Atelier Future’s principle emphasizes a social responsibility and contribution that opposes the mass robotic consumerism production. The foundation is laid by a desire to dream; a chance to make a difference whilst doing exactly what we love as designers/makers. It is a union of contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship and modern day social responsibility. It is a dedication to change someone’s life, and in time making a contribution towards a better world, better future. On a lighter note, buying my jewellery will never be, a guilty pleasure.
Who is your guru in the jewelry world?
Victoire De Castellane and Joel Rosenthal of JAR Paris.
Text by Giulia Romani