I felt in love of Nicholas Liu by chance, simply in front of his Maharaja crystal necklace, the cult-piece of the Maximalist collection. I met then him in person in New York and a new horizon came to me. A universe made of innovation, passion, beauty but made also of contrasts. Nicholas’ jewels rendered me speechless, his maxi, deconstructable Maximalist pieces in rock crystal and tiny white diamonds that remind to déco. Then he definitely captured me when he told about the link between the Maximalist and the Minimalist lines with the jewels Vertigo, a more easy-to-wear pieces in yellow and rose gold. Why you cannot live anymore without them? Read through Nicholas’ words in our face to face interview.
Can you explain to us the relation between Maximalist and Minimalist collection in their different way to be jewelry? And why did you choose to take such a different path?
NL: The Maximalist collection I consider this appropriate for evening wear. The pieces are commissioned by private clients and are usually worn for events. I decided to launch the Minimalist line, Vertigo being the first collection because I wanted clients to have something to wear during the day, not just for events. The pieces are simpler, and more practical for everyday.
What inspired you in conceiving the Maximalist collection?
NL: Alongside designing for other companies, I also started my jewelry career designing for private clients. Their needs were very much inline with the Maximalist. I designed for socialites and clients that needed larger pieces of jewelry for events.
What are you closer to in terms of style, Maximalist or Minimalist?
NL: The Minimalist collection is very much how I feel as a designer at this present time. But the Maximalist is what I am working towards, expanding as I feel this in the long run is where my passion lies. I am influenced by more ornate baroque and rococo styling and this allows me to create more whimsical pieces.
What are the main characteristics of the Maximalist pieces and what is your project for the future collections?
NL: Maximalist has an element of surprise and fantasy, for example the scarab beetle earrings, which had 18K yellow gold wings that opened to reveal diamonds set in dark purple titanium. Technically these pieces are challenging and take many months to complete. Next collection will include more colored stones and more adventurous materials.
Crystal and diamonds. How do they live together and why your choice is mainly for bold and huge crystals?
NL: This was an initial decision to keep the pricing down for the larger pieces. But as the company is growing into the fine jewelry market I am shifting materials into 18K gold, diamonds and colored stones. Natural rock crystal was chosen for the initial maximalist pieces because simply the scale of the pieces were so large, that rock crystal was one of the few options available.
How and where do you mainly sell the Maximalist?
NL: At the moment all orders are private orders. Each year I auction a few pieces at Phillips de Pury in New York, they are wonderful supporters of contemporary designers.
A bit of your bio?
NL: I was born and raised in Hong Kong, educated in Germany, Switzerland, Singapore and San Francisco. After a stint at Central St. Martins I went on to train as a jeweler in England (apprenticing for designers such as Shaun Leane, Philip Treacy, and Lara Bohinc) and later studied at the Royal College of Art in London graduating in 2008.
Do you see colour in the future of your collections or white still remains predominant?
NL: Definitely looking to add colour and mixed materials such as wood and different kinds of stones. The Minimalist collections are predominantly made in 18K yellow and rose gold and the Maximalist pieces are made with colored stones.
Maximalist/Minimalist: a face to face that involves also women. Who are the portraits for both the collections?
NL: Maximalist clients are women who really enjoy dressing up, it’s a passion. The jewelry compliments them without taking over who they are. Minimalist clients are slightly more practical and need pieces to layer into their existing collection of fine jewelry.
Text by Federica Frosini
December 18th, 2013