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Designers | Travelshopa Guides
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Louise Hill, Louise Hill Design

Louise Hill, Louise Hill Design | Interview | Travelshopa

A lifetime surrounded by art has empowered Louise Hill to create a business based on her lifelong passion. The subtle influence of a creative family and art centric home led Louise into a creative career working for some of England’s most well known brands and acquiring skills based on traditional core skills, like hand drawing. Nowadays, Louise has crafted a fascinating artistic process that is mostly inspired by the exciting and colourful experiences of living and travelling in Asia. The result… hugely complex and awe-inspiring digital artwork. Here’s an insight into how she does it and what lies ahead for this talented Singapore-based artist.

When did you become interested in art?

I have been surrounded by art and textiles all my life as my parents are both designers so it has always been something I have been very aware of and loved from a young age. There are gorgeous little ‘vignettes’ of art objects beautifully arranged all over my parent’s house!

What was your first art love?

I think my first art love was a stunning book of works by Maxfield Parrish that we had at home, I fell in love with his use of colour and fine detail and could look at the prints for hours.

What is your signature style?

I love to use a vintage style, however, some of my work can be really vibrant and colourful or extremely delicate and meticulously multilayered. I definitely have two sides to my work.

How did it come to about?

I come from a graphic design background and I spent 15 – 20 years as a packaging designer working for companies such as Crabtree & Evelyn, Fortnum & Mason and Whittard in London. I found my ‘niche’ in this kind of illustrative finely detailed style whilst working on wine labels in my early days out of art school. We didn’t use computers in those days so we hand drew all of our typography and sketched out our ideas. This, in turn, has formed the way I work now on the design of my prints.

Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process?

I tend to mix my old skills with my new, I start off by brainstorming and sketching – I love Pinterest for digital mood boards but I would be lost without a sketchbook! Then I start to gather fabrics and props from my collection at home and which I find in markets or buy online, I am always collecting and tend to buy stuff when I see it as I always have future designs in my mind.

I also go out to take photos for the artwork of places, architecture, street furniture, patterns, and scenes or photograph still life compositions at home in my studio. All of these images are then transferred to my computer where I start the process of adjusting each image, cutting them out, changing them around and I often end up with around 200 – 400 images in one digital artwork.

I also illustrate patterns and paint chinoiserie and in turn photograph them to add to the huge multilayered digital artwork. The process takes a long time and is incredibly detailed but I love working in this way – I’m definitely a perfectionist!

What do you do when you get the artist’s equivalent of writer’s block?

I can honestly say I NEVER get it! In fact, I have a bit of a problem with switching it all off, I have to keep a notebook and pencil by my bedside and one in my handbag at all times to write down ideas and make lists…

What are your creative influences?

I love to follow fashion designers and typographers, interior design, pattern and textiles on Instagram, I really love ‘Interiors’ Magazine and Australia’s ‘Vogue Living’ and ‘Zolima’ blog for all cultural and interesting articles on Hong Kong – all of these really inspire me. I love local culture and love to explore the streets for local pattern and colour – there is so much to take inspiration from in Asia.

A great work of art should…

Bring you a feeling of happiness, contentment and something new every time you look at it might bring other kinds of feelings that mean something special to you. You should either feel very comfortable with it or it should challenge your thoughts and perceptions – everyone has different taste, needs and ways of living with art…

What are you currently working on?

I am incredibly busy and have exciting new projects ahead. I have just finished my ‘Hong Kong Neon’ Limited Edition print which I am so incredibly pleased with, my heart skips a beat every time I look at it! I just LOVE it! I flew to HK to take the photos for it and also used photos taken when I lived there. I am passionate about the old iconic neon signs they are so beautifully made and designed – for me, it represents a gorgeous mix of HK cool typography and vintage design. It is so sad that they are slowly disappearing. I was incredibly lucky to capture a couple for my print before they were taken down a week after I photographed them. I would love to be able to go back in time a decade or two and take photos of the original signs – neon and handpainted.

I have also just finished a collaborative project for TAFF (The Fashion & Textile Federation of Singapore) to raise awareness of Singapore based designers. I teamed up with Darsala who create beautifully handcrafted bags and jewellery and added three of my digital artworks to their handheld and clutch bag designs. I love a collaboration and to try out interesting new ways of showing my work.

What’s next for you?

For the next few months I will be busy on my ongoing collaboration with Poon’s restaurant in London and will be designing a new range of smaller prints based on Chinese window shapes – an extension of my larger Limited Edition prints which use Chinese window trellis design as their framework, they will also be Limited Editions that can be collected as sets. I can’t wait to get these new designs underway!

Louise Hill, Louise Hill Design | Interview | Travelshopa
Louise Hill, Louise Hill Design | Interview | Travelshopa
Louise Hill, Louise Hill Design | Interview | Travelshopa
Louise Hill, Louise Hill Design | Interview | Travelshopa

Belinda Lee, PINKSALT

Belinda Lee, PINKSALT | Interview | Travelshopa

A mutual belief that swimwear deserves comfort, individuality, modesty, and style, sparked founders Belinda Lee and Su May to launch Singapore-based brand PINKSALT in mid-2017. The swimwear label focuses on versatile pieces designed for a modern’s woman lifestyle, creating resort wear catered for both beach and urban settings. Their third collection, The Urban Playground, reimagines glamour from the 1950s with sleek silhouettes and digital prints inspired by the urban vibe and architectural lines of the city. Here we explore more about the brand the collection that reflects a modern independent woman in an urban city.

How did PINKSALT start out? What was your light bulb moment?

Su May and I started PINKSALT when we realised that affordable and fashionable swimwear is not well represented in the market. The lightbulb moment for me was when I could use my graphic design skills to design digital prints for the swimwear. 

How does PINKSALT differentiate itself from other swimwear labels?

We are a modest yet modern swimwear label that offers more coverage and focuses on flattering the female form.

Your latest, and third, collection is inspired by the 1950s (one of my personal favourite eras – well done). Why is that? How did you come up with that theme? Where did you look for inspiration?

The 1950s was certainly a fashionable period for women and I love to draw inspiration from the feminine silhouettes of that time. Following our vision of having a more modest take on swimwear, I designed the Monroe to offer a little bit more coverage around the thigh area using inspiration from a classic 1950’s bathing suit. The Belle 2 piece whilst offering a modest coverage on the stomach area, also draws its inspiration from the halterneck circle dresses from the 1950s. And staying true to my graphic design roots, the digital print of the Urban landscape modernises the collection and brings it forward to the 21st century

Could you please describe your design process?

I usually work by deciding on the textiles of the collection. That essentially is the soul of the collection. I will draw inspiration from photographs, illustrations and drawings of the theme that I will be working on. In the case of the Urban collection, I was inspired by the architectural lines of modern buildings. I would extract them from photographs and redesign the lines into a textiles block. 

What is your design philosophy? 

To innovate and produce designs that are unique, modern and relatable

Who are you designing for?

Like-minded women who are looking for something different and unique and beautiful

What does style mean to you?

Design and style has always been in my genetic makeup if you like

How would you describe your personal style?

Practical, modern, and classic

How has your style evolved?

I don’t follow trends. I believe in timeless and stylish fashion.

What’s your first fashion memory?

When I bought my first pair of black Gucci loafers after my second paycheck!

Belinda Lee, PINKSALT | Interview | Travelshopa
Belinda Lee, PINKSALT | Interview | Travelshopa

A National Day Collaboration: Arete Goods x EDEN + ELIE

As the Greek name suggests, Singapore-based Arete Goods means excellence and virtue related with the fulfilment of purpose or function. Despite growing from just 3 shirtdresses, 6 ballet flats and 3 sashes in 2015, to a variety of clothing designs in dozens of fabrics, 15 ballet flats, leather totes and a new sandal collection today, Arete Goods still achieves the arete of a good. Here we explore how their clean, modern and effortless aesthetic was identified in anther brand, EDEN + ELIE, and so a new brand collaboration was formed in time to celebrate Singapore's National Day.

How did the Arete Goods x EDEN + ELIE collaboration come together?

We first came across EDEN + ELIE on Instagram and were immediately attracted to their simple designs and elegant colour pairings of their jewellery. In addition, we are impressed by their high level of craftsmanship, using quality Miyuki beads and 24k gold-plated hardware. 

At Boutique Fairs in March 2017, we bumped into EDEN + ELIE’s founder Stephanie, who was wearing her beautiful jewellery and the conversation for collaboration was sparked. 

Why did you choose to collaborate with EDEN + ELIE, over another brand?

Both Arete Goods and EDEN + ELIE share the same philosophy of creating functional pieces with a contemporary aesthetic. Equally crucial to our partnership choice was the fact that they place a similar emphasis on craftsmanship and the quality of their materials, which really resonated with what Arete Goods stands for.

Our new wrap dresses feature a flattering v neck and backline, which goes really well with EDEN + ELIE’s earrings and Everyday necklaces! Their hand-woven gold necklace features a signature beaded clasp that allows the wearer to wear it at her most flattering length. 

Furthermore, the neutral palette of our wrap dress collection is enlivened by EDEN + ELIE’s new Emerald and Royal colours. Each dress and jewellery is designed to be versatile, with thoughtful details that make it effortless to match with other pieces in the modern woman’s wardrobe.

What makes a successful collaboration?

We think that synergies between the brands is most important – the brands’ philosophies, aesthetics and quality must be complementary in order to achieve a successful collaboration. It certainly helped that the EDEN + ELIE team were a lovely bunch to work with! 

How does the collection celebrate Singapore, and its National Day?

Both Arete Goods and EDEN + ELIE’s products are designed in Singapore and made by experienced artisans and tailors in Singapore – a perfectly apt collaboration to be launched close to Singapore’s National Day!

How would you describe Singapore style?

Vibrant, multi-cultural and unique.

What are your top tips to celebrate Singapore National Day?

Gatherings with friends and/or family to celebrate togetherness – nothing beats spending time with our cherished ones! 

If you’re looking for something to do with friends and family,  join Arete Goods and other local brands such as Hush CandlesAll Good Things, and The Halia at Garden Events’ The Villa Fiesta, held at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on National Day, 9 August from 9am-7pm!

Shop The Story

A National Day Collaboration: Arete Goods x EDEN + ELIE | Travelshopa

Arete Goods

Arete Goods Wrap dress in Olive and EDEN + ELIE necklace & bangle in Emerald

A National Day Collaboration: Arete Goods x EDEN + ELIE | Travelshopa

Arete Goods

Arete Goods Wrap dress in Hazel & Cream and EDEN + ELIE necklace & bangle in Royal

A National Day Collaboration: Arete Goods x EDEN + ELIE | Travelshopa

Arete Goods

Arete Goods Wrap dress in Olive and EDEN + ELIE necklace & bangle in Emerald

A National Day Collaboration: Arete Goods x EDEN + ELIE | Travelshopa

Arete Goods

AG Wrap dress in Oatmeal and EDEN + ELIE earrings in Bridal White & bangle in Bark

A National Day Collaboration: Arete Goods x EDEN + ELIE | Travelshopa

Arete Goods

Arete Goods Wrap dress in Hazel & Cream and EDEN + ELIE necklace & bangle in Royal

A National Day Collaboration: Arete Goods x EDEN + ELIE | Travelshopa

Arete Goods

AG Wrap dress in Oatmeal and EDEN + ELIE earrings in Bridal White & bangle in Bark

Logan Komorowski, United Strangers

Meet New Zealand-born and Guangzhou-based Logan Komorowski. As the Co-Founder and Creative Director of UNITED STRANGERS, he talks us through his idea of a modern furniture brand that celebrates recycled furniture and home accessories, and sheds light on a sustainable design process.

Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Logan Komorowski’s passion for creating furniture from recycled materials struck when he was just fifteen years old. His first dabble was shortly after he dropped out of school and together with a bunch of his rugby mates started doing house demolition work. Logan filled his father’s garage with collected wood from the building sites. Eventually, he made some tables, sold them to family and friends, and started a company by the time he was sixteen years old. After a short stint in the USA, Logan studied product design in NZ, headed to China and landed a job as Head Creator with Halo by Timothy Oulton. It was there where Logan had the opportunity to explore every material and every idea, and then find the courage to go do it for himself.

It is probably not surprising that he co-founded United Strangers and under his title of Creative Designer, Logan has taken the brand from an idea to thirty-three stockists in thirteen countries in just five years. Known for repurposing bruised, battered and forgotten materials like aged brass and surplus army tents, United Strangers stands out because of the painstaking craftsmanship that goes into every piece of work. The result is a collection of timeless classics with a modern appeal and personal touches like hand stitched leather work and hand patina finishing.

We caught up with Logan while he was in Singapore launching the collection at Journey East. In this candid interview, Logan shares his love of furniture, unique design process, Singapore debut and thoughts on the future of the furniture industry.

What do you love about creating furniture and accessories?

I have a huge passion for the development process. I just got off the plane from Bali this morning and I found a new technique in Bali that I’ve never seen before so it is something that I want to try with our leather. I enjoy just trying to find a new way in doing something and use that on the production line.

In 2009, UNITED STRANGERS was created as a design company and in 2013 the brand started. How did UNITED STRANGERS come to be what it is today?

When we started the design company, I was still young and didn’t know the business side of things. I just knew the creative element and we did quite a few years of helping other companies build their brands. It got to a point where I knew I could do this for myself. At that time, I was surrounded by guys from France, NZ, China and Korea. We were just a bunch of strangers who came together to start the brand so even though I founded it, I had a lot of these guys around me to help get it off the ground. That’s how United Strangers came about.

Our brand has never been constrained to a specific look. Trends come and go and I just want to keep evolving. I didn’t want to be a brand that was pigeonholed into a certain look. So when I started United Strangers, I decided that it could be anything. When you say United Strangers it could be a record label, hotel business or anything. That’s the point with it; to keep having fun.

UNITED STRANGERS means “to be unique, to think differently and to create a world where everyone is welcome”. How have these values played out in developing the brand?

We have a tagline, “Some things mean everything to us” because there is a lot of stuff that gets discarded and maybe we can’t put it into a mass production but we can take elements of it. That takes us off in another direction. We start off with something we’ve found along the way. It might not be viable for mass production but there will be an element we’ll take out of it to recreate the process on a larger scale.

Tell us about your aesthetic ‘furniture with a twist’, what does that mean?

To run a workshop and have stores, you need to have an x amount of products which you know can move and sell. You need to have cabinets, tables, etc. but you also need to be able to produce those things that are a little different. For an example, the stitching on the Drum Round Coffee Table is done by hand. I want it to have some hand element, something that feels a little different or special. Or the hand-formed piece of brass on the Pilot Chair. Just to have a feel so that it doesn’t look like it has come out of the assembly line. It’s got to have soul to it.

Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

I’m not trying to make products that are so expensive that my age can’t buy. That’s the whole purpose. There’s too much high-end product and low-end mass produced product out there, so we’re trying to fit into that sweet spot in the middle.

You are a Kiwi based in China, how did that happen?

One of my friends from back home was doing charity work in China and asked me to join him. I was doing charity work for the first year in a very poor part of China back in 2003. We got put up into quarantine because of an outbreak of the SARS virus. We were in these tents in a small province and there was a guy who saw me sketching furniture. He had a house in Xianjin and told me to build furniture once I was out of quarantine. I started making some sofas there and moved back home after. When I was back in New Zealand, I thought, “What am I doing here?” so I moved back to China.

Tell us about the design process from concept to finished product.

A lot of designers would come up with the form and idea first but when you tend to work with your own manufacturing base, if you don’t think about how to manufacture the beginning, you can have huge issues. The development process could be five times longer.

Our approach is a bit more practical in the sense that it starts with the material. We think about what can be done with that material inside our manufacturing base and then we work on the final concept. There is a lot of work done in the background to get it to that point. Like the leather on our Pilot Chair. Even though it looks like a piece of leather, it’s a 13-day process of hand finishing of leather. It starts in a tiny tannery in Argentina. We bring it across to China and then we have to cut, stain, dye and hand finish it together with the brass elements. Every year we try to look for three or four new directions we can take.

So you base it on the materials you have and not the design element?

Yes, it always starts with the material. For an example, a piece of leather has the raw shape of a cow hide. If I design something with it and the wastage is 50% of the hide, no one is going to buy it. Then I can’t get to the people I’m trying to reach. I’m not trying to make products that are so expensive that my age can’t buy. That’s the whole purpose. There’s too much high-end product and low-end mass produced product out there, so we’re trying to fit into that sweet spot in the middle so it definitely starts with the material.

Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Why is sustainability an important part of your process?

I think sustainability should be engrained in what everyone thinks. I don’t go out of my way to do it necessarily but it’s how I always found our materials and ideas. Maybe it’s the background coming from New Zealand. We’ve got a pretty green image down there and I think we should all be doing it. As long as we’ve got the ability, it’s not difficult. Definitely, it’s a lot harder than going to find a normal piece of wood and making a table but in the end, you can get a lot more out of your process in the long term. I don’t think it should be a selling point. It should be part of the company anyway.

You’ve collaborated with brands like Matt Blatt. How do you choose projects/collaborations?

We’re based in SEA and Southern China and traditionally Southern China is a place where you buy a thousand chairs at the cheapest price. So when I started out, I decided that I did not want to be that type of company. I just want to work with retailers that can give me a small in-store gallery of 80-100 sq.m. I don’t have to go out to find a retailer that buys a thousand pieces. I’m after a retailer that can give me a showroom space that I believe I can work with for the next 10-15 years.

The whole concept is to have in-store galleries, provide the business model, which is small volume so we are not taking up huge warehouse space, as that’s a waste of resources, energy, time and money. We are trying to create collections our retailers can buy in small volumes and in the end it helps everybody. We don’t have to hold too much stock, we can produce more containers for them quickly and it just has to feel right.

Who else have you collaborated with?

In terms of our product, we’re doing some interesting collaborations in Japan with a fashion company called Journal Standard, WeWork, a co-working space in New York and Airbnb. In terms of our showroom space, we have 33 around the world, in 14 countries. In America, we work with a company called Four Hands; Matt Blatt in Australia plus China is growing quite fast for us at the moment.

Your stockists are located all around the world, how much do you travel in your role?

I love to travel so I try to stand grounded at the workshop for 3-4 times a year for a solid month for the development process. The rest of the time is either furniture shows, travelling to get ideas or customers. I would say once a month I’m outside somewhere.

Journey East in Singapore has become one of your most recent stockists, what do you look for in a stockist?

I really think a big part of the furniture is the owners of the company. Especially in our type of niche industry, these owners love furniture. They are not in this for financial gain. Essentially, we are in a partnership together and partnerships go through hard and good times. So it’s a big thing to know if they’ve got a good history behind them and it just feels good.

I don’t have a strategy. If we try it for 2 years and the retailer decides to open a store, that’s great and if they want to do it slightly differently, we’ll do that. It’s an evolving thing. Gone are the days with big flagship stores everywhere. You have to keep evolving.

Journey East is 22 years old now. They’ve been through a lot to keep the company going. So you just know, with a company that has got that kind of history and when you meet them and get the feeling of how they talk about furniture, it’s not just about the product they are selling. I met Terence and Anita before the Shanghai furniture show in 2016 and we didn’t really talk about furniture for the first hour. And that tends to be how most of our retailers come about. And once we have a good retail base, we don’t look for anyone else.

Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

"In my travels, I can only count on one hand the stores I walk into and say, 'This is a great furniture experience and this is what a furniture store should be.' I think in the future, your retail store is going to become a showroom for your online store. Enough people aren’t thinking that way and it’s a little crazy because everything is bought online."

In your opinion, what’s the future of retail and in particular how is retail changing for the furniture industry?

Obviously, online is going to start playing a bigger part. If you look at the furniture retail game at the moment, a lot of stores are going to die in the next 2 or 3 years, as the rents are too high. And especially with our generation, we’ve done our time with IKEA products. We’ve gone through our first window where we’ve bought our first flat or house and then we start earning a bit more money and want to individualise the house.

That is where the retail stores have to hit and I think there’s not enough that are doing a good job. I don’t know about Singapore but in my travels, I can only count on one hand the stores I walk into and say, “This is a great furniture experience and this is what a furniture store should be.” I think in the future, your retail store is going to become a showroom for your online store. Enough people aren’t thinking that way and it’s a little crazy because everything is bought online.

Maybe my mother’s generation is never going to buy furniture online but if you can build credibility with the brand or if you’ve walked into a store and say “Yes, I know that brand and I trust them,” they’re going to buy it online. If they know it is going to be delivered in 48 hours, they’re going to shop online. So the showroom is going to be more of a support to the online store.

Retail stores have to also provide an amazing experience. I think there’s no reason why we can’t have a cool café in places like the Journey East’s showroom, there’s no reason why on Friday night we can’t have a guy pumping some music in the corner. There has to be some different elements.

I know that United Strangers can’t take an 800 sq. m. space to make the store interesting but what happens if we make an indie line of organic products from India or something that is completely different from United Strangers? I think that’s what brands have to start doing. My job in the backend is the keep providing a certain culture and trend and put that into all the stores.

What’s next for UNITED STRANGERS?

We have a Las Vegas show next week, for the launch of a new product and a Shanghai show in September. We also have two new showrooms opening in Japan next month and a new workshop in Vietnam in October. The workshop in Vietnam will focus on more wood elements. We are also looking at providing a long-term experience to connect with partners and focus on what each market and customer need.

Shop The Story

Pilot Chair | United Strangers | Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

United Strangers

Pilot Chair

Drum Coffee Round | United Strangers | Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

United Strangers

Drum Side Table (Round)

Urban Sofa | United Strangers | Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

United Strangers

Urban Sofa

Brooklyn Living Cabinet | United Strangers | Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

United Strangers

Brooklyn Living Cabinet

United Strangers is currently stocked at Journey East.

#03-02 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road, Singapore 169074

All images courtesy of Journey East and United Strangers.

GINLEE Studio on Singapore

Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

While fashion label GINLEE Studio may have been established in Israel, the heart behind the brand is Singaporean Gin Lee. The values of the brand - around being true to yourself, confident in who you are and the best you can be - are very much inspired by Singapore’s constant strive to be better and forward looking attitude. Like Singapore going from third world to first world in such a short span of time, GINLEE Studio has moved quickly in six years. To celebrate Singapore’s 52nd year of independence, GINLEE Studio has released limited edition colours of the Ivy Dress - red and cream. Here, we speak with designer Gin Lee, who shares her tips about the city she holds closely to her heart.

When you think of Singapore, what comes to mind?

A melting pot of cultures, a safe city, a small city with lofty dreams.

What are your top tips when travelling to Singapore?

Singapore is often referred to as the dining capital of Asia and it offers a wide array of delicious offerings from casual street fare to fine-dining creations. I would recommend you to check out the local food fare at hawker centres for the most affordable and authentic Singapore flavours. Some of my favourite dishes are chicken rice, laksa and fried carrot cake!

What are your style tips for Singapore?

In order to keep cool in this perennial summer heat, I would recommend our silk pieces that are super-lightweight and elegant with its luxurious sheen.

What is your favourite shop in Singapore?

Kapok at National Design Centre because they offer a well-curated mix of local and overseas labels ranging from accessories, clothing and lifestyle. Besides that, they are right below our studio, making it very convenient for us to do some last minute shopping for friends.

What is your favourite hotel in Singapore?

W Singapore because of its funky and energetic vibes, plus it’s located at Sentosa which is far away from the city’s hustle and bustle – perfect for a short getaway!

What do you suggest doing on National Day in Singapore?

Go to Marina Barrage to fly kites and have a picnic session in the afternoon, then stay to catch the amazing fireworks at night.

Shop The Collection

GINLEE Studio on Singapore | Travelshopa

GINLEE Studio

Ivy Dress Cream

GINLEE Studio on Singapore | Travelshopa

GINLEE Studio

Ivy Dress Red

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain

Fuelled by a headstrong and rebellious spirit, CHAINLESS BRAIN, aims to epitomise the boldness and independence of the contemporary woman with its fine crafted jewellery. Meet ALVERINA WIJAYA, the designer behind this Singapore-based jewellery brand.

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Jewellery making is no easy task for Alverina Wijaya – her first professional jewellery-making memory involves piercing a finger – but the tedious process comes with great rewards; happy customers and the satisfaction of creating her own designs.

Inspired by the liberating experience of creation, the Singaporean designer found her passion after studying Jewellery Design at Raffles Design Institute in Singapore and graduating in Fashion Marketing and Management from ISEM in Paris.

She set out to create simple DIY designs with Chainless Brain in 2006. Today, the jewellery brand has emerged as one of the finest jewellery brands in Singapore, carrying fine jewellery designs to quirky pieces expertly crafted from precious metals like 18K Gold and 925 Silver. 

That’s not all. Alverina also collaborates with local designers and initiatives like Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore and FashionisTech and keeps more than 17k followers on Chainless Brain’s Instagram updated with her jewellery-making process and current projects. Read on to know how Alverina does it all.

How did you start out? What was your light bulb moment?

It started out purely as a hobby where we needed a name to represent ourselves back in 2006. And we did not expect that the brand would grow so much over the years and expand into the international market. It does take a lot of passion to come this far.

What’s your first jewellery memory?

If you mean professional jewellery crafting, I would say I remember cutting my finger from piercing a piece of silver sheet. Jewellery making is a tedious process, but looking how customers are satisfied with our work, it is all worth it.

Could you please describe your design process?

We usually take about 3-6 months to design and decide the new designs for the next collection. It really depends on our customers’ reviews base on the previous collection which explains why we take 6 months long to decide on the new designs. Our inspiration mainly comes from facets where we handmade our accessories for our Accessories line. We use these characteristics to put into our Jewellery line. In summary, we develop the designs from our previous collection.

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

What’s the biggest challenge with being a creative in business?

Being asked to produce more than we are able to is the biggest challenge when the workload is already overwhelming and we need to push further to meet our deadlines.

You have an impressive social following. Could you give us 3 tips on how to increase social media presence?

We started to engage with influencers when Instagram just started out. It has grown over the years and we are glad that some followers have been really loyal to us since the beginning. Since Instagram’s system has changed, the game of engaging influencers is not as effective as in the past. We usually tell our customers to check out our Instagram during events, it does help a bit on that. Of course, posting good and relevant pictures helps to increase social media presence too.

You have collaborated with a few brands, and most recently FUZE, how do you choose projects/collaborations?

It is very important that both parties come together with the same vision, goals and objectives. Many a time, our collaborations did not work out because the splitting of the cost was not even. It is very important to understand the budget that we set aside for the collection and the goals to achieve by the end of the project. If the brand vision of our collaborators is aligned with us, we are more than welcome to work with them, even if it takes a few years to fulfil or complete the project.

"Jewellery making is a tedious process, but looking how customers are satisfied with our work, it is all worth it."

 

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Founder, Alverina Wijaya

Who would your dream collaboration be with?

I hope to collaborate with H&M or Topshop one day! Topshop in London is very supportive of their local designers. We need to make this happen in Singapore too!

What’s your top business advice to aspiring jewellery designers?

Don’t think too much, just follow your heart and do it.

In your opinion, what’s the current state of the local fashion industry in Singapore?

I love to see how the locals are supporting local designers these days. They are more knowledgeable about fashion through social media. It is very encouraging to see that many young designers are creating their own labels in their own unique ways. I would say the local fashion industry has been evolving, to a better and stronger one.

“It is very important that both parties come together with the same vision, goals and objectives. If the brand vision of our collaborators is aligned with us, we are more than welcome to work with them, even if it takes a few years to fulfil or complete the project.”

 

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

What are some current jewellery trends that have piqued your interest?

The choker! They are back in trend. We try not to follow the trend too much as we want to create something that is long-lasting so customers would wear them again for the next few years.

What is your most cherished piece of jewellery?

Every piece! They are like my babies. I feel the need to cherish every piece of them since I have put in a lot of time and effort before presenting them to the public. It really upsets me every time our stockists return us damaged goods when the jewellery has not been well taken care of.

Shop The Story

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Chainless Brain

X Bar Cuff

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Chainless Brain

Colour Block Facets Ring

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Chainless Brain

Pearls Bar Ring

Alverina Wijaya, Chainless Brain | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Chainless Brain

Facets Bangle

Chainless Brain is available at various stockists across Singapore, Taiwan and U.S.A.

All images courtesy of Alverina Wijaya.

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