Suinan Li studied Industrial Design in Guangzhou in China before moving to London to study BA (Hons) Fashion Jewellery. The Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi which offers a new way to look at your home, and your whole life, was the inspiration for her final project. We profile Suinan in our latest LCF BA17 Class of 2017 feature to discuss art balance, Asian aesthetic and winning prizes.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?
Before I came to the UK, I just finished my first BA degree in industrial design at Guangzhou Academic of Fine Arts in China. I have been interested in fashion since I was a child. When I took a six-week selective course in Fashion Accessories during the last year of my first BA, I found myself enjoying doing hands on work like jewellery and accessories, I decided to learn fashion jewellery.
Talk us through your final project…
My final project is inspired by traditional Japanese aesthetic – wabi-sabi. According to Koren (1994), wabi-sabi is ‘a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’. Therefore, there are three main concepts of this aesthetic which refer to imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness. However, even though my final collection was inspired by the wabi-sabi aesthetic, it is not exactly wabi-sabi because what I was trying to do is intentionally making things look like wabi-sabi or remind people of this beautiful aesthetic. I have two concepts for my final collection – the first one, also the main one, is about imperfection. In this collection, the complete object is useless, it can only become useful when you smash it. A piece of wearable jewellery will be born from hard breaking action with all the marks and flaws. I named this collection ‘Crack’. The second concept is about incompleteness. I wanted to create a collection of ‘incomplete jewellery’. The jewellery in the collection is not complete until the customer combines his or her own object to it. It is a stone setting without the jewel and the customer’s own object will become the ‘jewel’ for the incomplete jewellery. I named this collection ‘Holder’.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
I chose wabi-sabi as my subject because I appreciate the wisdom of wabi-sabi – ‘All things are impermanent, imperfect and incomplete’ (Koren, 1994, p.46-47). It reminds people to value the things that we have that moment because things keep changing all the time and would not last forever. It also challenges mainstream beauty and gives people a different angle to see the world. The ‘Holder’ collection is inspired by a wabi-sabi relative movie Ask This of Rikyu (2013). Sen no Rikyu is an ancient Japanese tea master who popularized the wabi-sabi tea aesthetic in Japan. In the movie, there is one scene that really impressed. One evening, Rikyu took out a wooden tray with a simple wave and bird pattern, poured some water into the tray slowly and a full moon appeared in the water next to the wave pattern. The wooden tray in the scene is not complete until the moon shown in the water. And it makes the wooden tray unique and glowing in the night.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
For my ‘Crack’ collection I combined jasmonate and different fabrics to create my work through casting technique. In ‘Holder’, I applied basic jewellery making techniques to mainly brass and some other metals to make my pieces.
Have you won any prizes?
I won Fashion Matters BA Final Collection and Research Award in London College of Fashion.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?
Yes! I did three internships since I starting LCF. I’ve worked at Studio Uribe, Úna Burke, and Scott Wilson. I applied through Fashion Workie website and sent direct emails to them.
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
Yes, I was always inspired by the guest lecturers. They are from different fields in the fashion industry and I was often inspired by their talks.
Describe your work and aesthetic in five words…
Simplicity, chic, creative, material-based, and experimental.
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
I don’t have a specific muse. Each project is inspired by different people or things.
What influences your style and work?
The theme of the project.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to become a jewellery designer and have my own label in the future. I am also interested in material-based design, so I would like to learn different materials in the future as well.
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve this?
The Fashion Jewellery course at LCF encourages students to explore different materials to create jewellery which gives me the chance to experiment various materials.
Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London? What do you think about the move?
Yes! I think it is a great idea to have one big campus instead of six campuses spread around in different places across London. It will save so much travelling time and will be easier for different courses to communicate with each other. I wish it was done before I came here.
What music do you listen to whilst you’re working? Is there one particular track or artist that you like?
I like silence when I am working, especially when I want to concentrate, I sometimes wear silicon ear plugs, because I am very easy to be distracted. If I have to listen to music when I am working, I prefer blues or jazz.
What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?
Brexit makes the cost of material much higher which puts a lot of pressure on independent designers and small fashion businesses. Brexit might make everything more expensive which may attract less overseas students to study in the UK.
- Follow LCF BA17 here
- More information on BA (Hons) Fashion Jewellery
- Follow Suinan on her website, Instagram, and Showtime
- LCF is Global
- Find out more about other undergraduate courses at LCF
- Find out more about postgraduate courses at LCF
- LCF Open Days and Events
- Find out more about Funding and Mentoring
- More LCF News stories
- More information on LCF Careers
- Want to write for LCF News? Send your pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alumni can connect with LCF in the following ways: