two+seven: Give us some background: how did you get started in jewelry design?
Wing Yau: I honestly fell into jewelry design by accident! I studied sculpture and video art in school, but after graduation it was hard to keep up the same work without a studio. I was working as an assistant to several artists and galleries, but quickly decided that kind of life wasn’t for me. I ended up retreating to the privacy of my bedroom, where I found myself making these thoughtless yet satisfying “studies” from cord and fabric – form and texture pieces – little bowls, rope mountains and other clusters that, it turns out, translated well into necklaces. I received a lot of positive response from my friends and strangers. It just seemed natural to develop a full collection. This led to me learning about the artisanal boutiques throughout the world that host artist-made objects like my own, which really inspired me (and still does!)
I’ve always thought of myself as a sculptor first and a designer second – WWAKE started as a base to collaborate with other artists. Before this summer I thought I was a terrible, sloppy designer – that I’d simply lucked out trying to sell my miniature sculptures! It’s amazing how things change though – I’m completely immersed in the process of design now – I love thinking about who I’m designing for, how pieces fit and move with the body, and where function meets my fine art interests. Learning about the fashion market is also exciting.
2+7: What is it about textiles that inspire your designs?
WY: I love textiles that you can feel with your eyes before you even touch them. Good textiles, like an interesting rug or sweater, communicate so much information! Beyond the visual pattern there’s physical texture, and beyond that the amazing imperfections that reveal the hand of the maker – that’s what I’m most interested in; I find it really poetic. My designs are all about finding this subtle complexity in tactility – the seduction of textured things (I’m the person who touches everything in a store and then I leave. It’s shameful!).
2+7: You worked along another two+seven featured designer, Mociun: what did you learn from this experience?
WY: I don’t know where to begin! Caitlin taught me a world of things – from the glory of a fresh farm tomato, to the idea that running a successful business doesn’t mean compromising your creative vision. Most importantly: Always be nice! It’s not hard and it makes all the difference.
2+7: Do you have a favorite piece in your collection?
WY: I’m very excited about my open Silver Rings. When stacked together they shift asymmetrically and create elegant patterns that I never predicted!
WY: The next full collection will push the fiber jewelry into larger sculptural shapes, while the fine jewelry will be smaller and more graphic. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to more photography collaborations with the amazing Anderson Platz and an fun charms collection for the winter!