Wednesday, January 6, 2010

CHAO-HSIEN KUO

A trip to Taiwan would not be complete without visiting a few of the country's historic temples that include Buddhist, Confucius, and Taoist temples. Taiwan is the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Chao-Hsien Kuo.

For five decades the Finland-based company Lapponia Jewelry Oy (Lapponia) is world-renowned for its ultra sleek and modern silver and gold jewelry.

The success of the company is largely due to one of the co-founders', Bjorn Weckström, striking design aesthetic, as well as the company's selection of contributing designers who each bring a distinctive style to the brand; Kuo is one of those designers.

Kuo's collegiate journey is an international one.  She completed commercial design studies in Taiwan, fine arts and metal in New York, and goldsmithing and industrial design in Finland.

Falling in love with the country's changing seasons and plant life, Kuo made a permanent home in Finland. It comes as no surprise that forms in nature, as a matter of fact, are central to Kuo's design approach.  However, her pieces for Lapponia are clean and streamlined featuring soft, flowing curves.

Kuo has contributed jewelry to Lapponia since 2006; but the designer also nurtures her own baby: a four-year old company, Chao and Eero a collaborative effort with Finnish designer Eero Hintsanen.

Kuo's stunning pieces for Chao and Eero reflect her love for flowers. "I like to observe how a bloom is "set" on the stem, how the petals unwrap to reveal the surprise enclosed," she reveals. "I want to capture the gesture of a flower, and to depict the energy and liveliness of a plant."

Gemstones are not a primary feature of her work; instead, the malleable, fluid properties of the metal are the focus. The floral-inspired pieces, fashioned from her signature white sterling silver, are a marvel of metalsmithing. The forms are sinuous, voluptuous curvatures expertly cultivated into the plump lines of petals and leaves.

Her other collections, such as Signs, and Bubbles, reflect the designer's humorous, playful side in simplistic, elegant forms.

Her Signs Collection is inspired by internet emoticons while the ethereal, floating quality of bubbles is captured with small, Japanese pearls set arbitrarily on thin, golden ring bands along with earring and brooch pin arrangements.

Kuo's deft and skill with metal garnered her design awards including fourth place in the Japan Cultured Pearl Retailers Association's 2001 International Pearl Design Contest, and in 2002, the Excellence Award in Taiwan's Dream of the Crafts Design Competition.

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Photo 1 (top right): The Scent Summer Earrings with White Silver and Gold Foil [Chao and Eero]
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Summer Romance Necklace [Lapponia]
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