Stare for a moment at the breath-taking work of Wallace Chan, a jewelry designer who comes from Hong Kong, and you’ll realize there’s an enchanting allure to his whimsical world and there’s more going on than just a pretty piece of jewelry. From structured metals that reflect the buildings and architecture where he grew up, to an array of colorful gemstones that reflect nature all around him, each material Mr. Chan uses in each masterpiece he creates is built in his sub-conscious and is let out in the things he designs. His skills go beyond design, as his patented Wallace Cut weaves sculpture and faceting into one unique three-dimensional transparent engraving. He has trail blazed techniques along the way and has numerous patents to his name. These include a jade technique which refines and brightens the gemstone and sends the light across the surfaces, allowing for it to intensify in color, as well as a using titanium in jewelry which is incredibly lightweight and wearable.
Wallace Chan will be exhibiting at TEFAF, the fine and decorative arts fair scheduled to open in NYC on October 28th, 2017. There are nearly 100 exhibitors on display this time around in NYC, and Mr. Chan’s work cannot be missed. Bringing with will be 20 items that will blow you away in both creative design and function, once again innovating the world of jewelry like never before.
On the cusp of the exhibition, we asked Wallace Chan some questions about his work and his answers similarly reflect the intensely creative and in depth character he is, just like his designs.
What are some of your earliest memories and influences for your jewelry design?
We are the products of our experiences. My childhood has a major influence on my creations. I think my curiosity was intensified by the fact that I had to quit school at a young age. Without a formal education, the wild, free and chaotic world was my teacher. I also learnt that the only way I could figure out the answers to my questions was through hands-on experience. When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I was only five years old. The buildings surprised me. They weren’t even skyscrapers at that time, they were just four or five-story buildings leaning on one another, some short and some tall. I remember myself imagining these buildings as human pyramids. Today you can see some of my gemstone settings resemble those structures. However, I did not do it on purpose! It was all in my head—my subconscious mind—where data from my experiences are stored and retrieved.
What metals and gemstones are your current favorites to work with?
I love that you asked what are my “current” favorites but no – I still don’t have a favorite. People say it is bad to play favorites when parenting – I agree, and I think it is not only bad for the children, it is also bad for the parents. When you have a favorite, two favorites, or three favorites, you blind yourself, you become biased, and you overlook the rest of the world. I am a parent myself and I have only a son – that’s ok. But there are so many metals and gemstones – some I have discovered and some I have yet. To keep the creative juice flowing, it is most important to empty myself and see the limitless possibilities and beauty in every single thing.
You’ll be exhibiting 20 pieces at TEFAF in NYC, how did you go about choosing the pieces? Is there a theme?Were they all made for this particular event?
It is like going to sleep every night—you seldom tell yourself what to dream about, and even if you do, your subconscious mind most likely makes you dream about other things. When I create, I let my dreams take the lead. Sometimes it is about life or sometimes a long-lost tale; sometimes it is about history or sometimes the beauty of a flower; and sometimes it is as unfathomable as the mystery of the universe. Sometimes it is a combination of it all. Freedom is the key to it all, so I never have a pre-set theme.
What do you hope for people to take away from seeing your work on display?
When the audience asks me questions, only then will I know what they are thinking. I never aspire to impose ideas on the audience; I rather let them come to their own conclusions.
What sets your work apart from other jewelry designers?
We live in a world of unity. This concept originated from Confucius that sets out an ideal society with great harmony. However, even though we are all the same, I believe we are also all different. Building off of Lao Zi’s concept of Dao—the mechanism of the universe, which is a way of thinking, learning and living, I believe that everyone has their own Dao. It is a continuous process to comprehend your own system and relationship with the universe, from knowing and learning, to practicing which ultimately leads to understanding. It is a constant cycle. I am very much immersed in my own Dao. When I undertake this process, I merge with the universe. Once I finally understand, I forget everything and start again with a pure mind. This is full of challenges, yet this is how individual spirits accumulate energy and power. TEFAF was established in 1988 as a way for creators and dealers to present museum-quality works of all genres and time periods on one platform. It happens three times a year on two continents (in the Netherlands & NYC).
WANT MORE? Check out my other interviews