An eclectic group of jewellery designers shared their design philosophies and success stories at an insightful conference on creativity and profitability organised by JNA.
The JNA Conference: "From Inspiration to Innovation – The Designer's Journey of Creativity" brought together jewellery designers and business leaders who talked about harnessing one's individuality and translating artistic ideas into a commercial endeavour.
Sponsored by KGK Group and organised by JNA, the conference gathered over 150 jewellery designers, students and manufacturers from more than 25 countries and regions in Hong Kong. It was held on the sidelines of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.
According to the organiser, the high visitor turnout was testament to the importance of innovative design and creativity to the long-term development of the jewellery industry.
At the conference, Alessio Boschi, founder and designer of his eponymous brand Alessio Boschi Jewels, said designers should strive to create a signature look but remain open to new influences, materials and market requirements.
"Our mission as jewellery designers is to make people dream. My creative process starts with the inspiration, the story behind every single collection I make – that is the soul of each single piece," he revealed.
Working with the right manufacturers is likewise crucial to a jewellery designer's success, added Boschi.
Hong Kong designer Sarah Zhuang meanwhile identified niches and gaps in the market before establishing the Sarah Zhuang Jewellery brand. At the time, the market was already saturated and the only way to stand out was to offer exceptional products. "I thought about all the busy women in the world, so I decided to create jewellery that they could wear daily and transform into different styles," disclosed Zhuang. She also advised aspiring designers to collaborate with bigger brands, retailers and other designers to raise their profile in the market.
From a jewellery manufacturer's perspective, Mallika Khemlani, business development manager of KGK Jewellery (HK) Ltd, said the jewellery industry relies on designers to invigorate the business by coming up with fresh, never-before-seen ideas. "Without the creativity infused by designers, the repetition of designs would give the industry a sense of boredom and sluggishness. As a manufacturer, we want designers to flourish creatively to set themselves apart and to work with each other to address issues hampering their continued growth and self-expression," Khemlani said.
KGK Group Vice Chairman Sanjay Kothari meanwhile described designing jewellery as a discipline like any field of study such as engineering or accounting.
“At the heart of the brand are designers who study and practice the art of creating functional, beautiful and balanced jewellery pieces that please the eye and stimulate the senses,” continued Kothari. “The JNA Conference was instrumental in bringing together the best design talents on a single platform. KGK recognises the importance of design and working with the finest designers. We wish to collaborate with more talented designers to ensure that every KGK jewellery is a true piece of art.”
Fei Liu, founder and designer of Fei Liu Fine Jewellery, delved into the commercial side of designing jewellery. "Try to keep the passion going because it is not going to be there forever. If you have an empty stomach, passion is not going to support you. You also need the cash flow to sustain the passion. You have to look at the creativity behind the design but also the creativity behind the business," noted Liu.
Mana Matsuzaki, designer of Matsuzaki Inc, shared how she developed her signature style of earthy, natural and bone-themed designs. The Japanese designer also touched on the important distinction between art and design. "Art is self-expression based on your emotions. Artists express what they come up with spontaneously and freely. Design, on the other hand, is a means to communicate with an audience," she explained.