Percy Lau (Hong Kong, 1989) got her break in the second year of her degree at the Central San Martin College of Art and Design. She began selling earrings, necklaces and rings in the shape of body parts (ears, lips, noses, penises).
This past July, she won the YKK Award from International Talent Support with her project, “Seeing is Believing?”, an eerie collection based on the concept of reality and illusion.
At only 24, Percy Lau has already received a good number of prestigious international awards (Swarovski Live Project, Cartier Scholarship Award and ITS) and expectations for her work have grown exponentially in recent months.
She defines herself as mysterious and Christian, but she prefers not to call her work ‘design’, rather ‘re-creation based on nature”.
So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins has had the pleasure of getting to know this promising designer a little better.
SO CATCHY!: Why did you choose to work on accessories?
PERCY LAU: My focusing on accessories is more of a coincidence rather than a decision; I don’t decide on what product (necklace or eyewear or handbags…) to make first, but think of a concept and then choose the right outcome to present this concept. Therefore I have made several pieces of jewelry before as well, but recently accessories seem to be more suitable for my ideas.
SC!: What do you want to show with your work? Is it more about surprising fashion accessories or independent pieces of art? – Do you consider your creations “wearable”?
PL: What I want to show is just one core theme: my understanding of the body and my philosophy of this world. As long as the works can show this concept, they can be in any style that I think suits the works best, whether it be surprising fashion accessories or works of fine art. That is why some of my works are very wearable while others seem to be more “arty”.
SC!: Who supports your projects? Are you making a living off of your work at the moment? Or are you still a full-time student?
PL: I was a full-time student until a few months ago, and back then my sponsor was mostly my family. From the second year in university though, I started to sell my own works in the markets and through the Internet, and the money I earned was able to support my living fees. Now that I am out of school, I am planning to set up my own studio and brand, and hopefully I can be my own sponsor from now on.
SC!: Can you tell us about “Miniature Body Part Jewelry by Percy Lau”? What do you want to say with this collection? Have you sold any of the pieces?
PL: The collection ‘disORGANized’ was born from the idea of extending body parts with jewelry, and it was originally made for fun – the idea of wearing an ear on your ear! I made myself a pair of Ear-earrings and surprisingly, lots of my friends wanted a pair for themselves too. This then extended into a whole collection of Ear-necklace, Nose-rings, and so on. Once I created the whole series I started to sell them on-line, and it sold quite well. In fact, this was the first collection of works that helped me to be featured on magazines, blogs, and other public medias.
SC!:You won the YKK Award last July at ITS. Can you tell us about your project “Seeing is believing? “ What is it about?
PL: The original idea for this collection came from Mah Jong, a traditional Chinese game that is similar to cards. In this game, people can only try and guess what the other players are thinking by observing their facial expressions and their actions. However, if the Mah Jong cards became invisible, we may discover that what we were guessing is different from reality. This made me think about vision and reality: how do we know that we are indeed looking at the truth and not just illusion?
This collection was born from this concept. When audiences wear the work pieces, their vision would be distorted by the see-through media. Vice-versa, their own face would also be distorted. What they see, and what people see of them, would be different from “reality”. But who can guarantee that this distorted vision is not reality?
I used resin for this collection, and most of them were completed in school workshops. The prisms I made for the spectacles were extremely difficult to complete. Not because of technical problems but because of the shapes and angles I wanted: they had to refract and distort the face in exactly the way I wanted, and to accomplish this I had to do many calculations and experiments. I also received a lot of help from friends, especially in polishing the completed prisms.
SC!: What are you doing at the moment? Have you got any upcoming projects?
PL: Right now I am preparing for my personal studio and also my new collection, which will be an extension of the project from ITS. All the financial support will come from the prize money I received in the ITS YKK awards.
SC!: Do you consider yourself more of an Accessories Designer or a Fashion Innovator?
PL: A bit of both and more, I guess, or at least that’s what I aim to be. I don’t wish to be restricted by any form, so I have and will continue to unleash my ideas through designing in not only accessories but also other forms of work, whether it is jewelry, photography, or drawing. And I wish to be able to become an innovator of any form of art or design through all my designs.
SC!: Where do you look for inspiration?
PL: Anything can be inspirational to me. Most of my ideas come from the nature and everyday life. Movies and exhibitions can also trigger my creativity. Like I mentioned, the collection “Seeing is Believing?” was inspired by a game of Mahjong! Recently I have been reading the book Sophie’s World recently and found that quite inspirational too. My mind works like a puzzle, and the different pieces of information are like puzzle pieces. Sometimes they just click together to give me a perfect idea!
SC!: Where do you see yourself next? And in 10 years?
PL: For my next step, I am going to work hard so that my design studio can run smoothly, and in ten years I hope that my brand will be successful worldwide!
SC!: Your favorite fashion innovator/artist, in any field, is…
PL: I like Elsa Schiaparelli a lot. Her work has a very powerful and unconstrained style, and designers and artists such as her can bring great influence to the world of design at any times. And although we live in different times, I feel that my mind works in the similar way as hers.
SC!: And your favorite Accessories Designer?
PL: My favorite accessories designer is Gijs Bakker. He was the first person to combine photographic images into jewelry and accessory design, and this changed the way people see jewelry: that jewelry is not just pretty stones and precious metals. His change in the way of thinking opened up a whole new world of possibilities for this field, and I admire him very much because of this.
SC!: Are we looking at a revolution in the concept of fashion? And in the concept of accessories?
PL: I’m not sure how to answer you this… I believe that small revolutions are taking place everyday. As for me, I don’t have an exact definition of what fashion or jewelry or accessories are; they are all merely an outcome of showing a concept, and this outcome just happened to fall into one of these categories. And if people all started to blur the boundaries of these different fields and saw fashion and jewelry and accessories all in a different light, then this change of thought may also lead to revolution.
Images courtesy of Percy Lau & percylau.com
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla