Afzal trained in Industrial Design at the National University of Singapore while Ruiyin trained in Central St Martins in London, both with works featured on numerous websites and publications. What we like about them is that their brand is representative of both their backgrounds and how they came to work with each other. Not only that, but the idea of jewellery and a complementary factor of objects tell a story, giving it that extra appeal.
We caught up with Ruiyin and Afzal to find out more about their journey, services they offer and the designs they have. They’ve also given us a tip for budding jewellery and industrial designers!
- Tell us a bit about yourselves and what you do?
- Ruiyin (R) & Afzal (A): I’m Ruiyin, I’m a contemporary jeweller and my co-founder, Afzal, is an industrial designer. Almost 2 years ago, we came together and founded Proper People, a Singapore-based creative studio, focused on branding and graphic design, and jewellery and objects label State Property a year later.
- How did you two meet and why did you start State Property?
- R: Afzal and I met while we were still in design school, through common friends. We were always very involved in each others work throughout school. When we graduated, we came together to start State Property, a luxury label that blurs the line between art and design, through the mediums of jewellery and objects. I am largely involved in the jewellery portion whilst Afzal handles the objects. We wanted to build a brand that can create things beyond the physical pieces.
It really is about expression and sharing what we’ve learned – along with the things we geek out about. We’re constantly challenging each other’s perspectives. Those perspectives being that of a Jewellery designer and an Industrial designer. We see Jewellery as objects for the body, and Objects as jewellery for spaces. This seemingly cursory adjustment, tints everything we do. We’re excited to hone our sensibilities in Singapore and be part of shaping our culture.
“Subtle Bold Statements”In 3 words, describe State Property's style
- What is your process in designing a piece of jewellery, and object?
- R & A: We establish a concept.
We see ourselves as story tellers. Every year we establish a theme we are interested in. We then research extensively on the concept to create a brief for ourselves.
- Then we begin designing.
- R & A: This is the fun part – ideating. This happens at the weirdest places and at the most unpredictable moments; at the carpark, in the shower, during a movie, in the midst of irrelevant conversations, you name it. We get bored easily, so we make sure to approach each concept with a different perspective.
When designing, we are actively rethinking the relationship between objects and spaces, the physical and the intangible, the old and the new.
At the same time, we are also on the look out for interesting materials and manufacturing techniques that will complement the concept of the collection.
- Finally, we get it made.
- R & A: We enjoy working closely with craftsman that are open to the possibilities of what jewellery and objects can be. Most of our pieces are crafted locally, in Singapore. We prefer this arrangement as there is less lost in translation and we can be more involved with the process.
It’s true that materials in Singapore may not be vastly available as other countries, we are very lucky to have built amazing relationships with reputable suppliers in Brazil, Germany, New York, London, Hong Kong and Bangkok.
We also visit trade shows regularly to look for interesting, quality materials.
- You also offer bespoke jewellery services. Tell us a bit about the process and what customers can expect?
- R & A: A bespoke project is simultaneously exciting and terrifying (for us!). That’s because most of these projects are extremely personal to our clients. When a client approaches us to design a bespoke piece for them, what they are looking for, is for us to infuse our sensibilities into these intimate objects that mirror the client. And we take this responsibility seriously.
We begin the process by getting to know our client. This is done through private consultations in our Atelier, or at locations convenient for the client. During these interactions, we work to identify the client’s needs – be it reimagining inherited jewellery or designing around a gemstone they have acquired. Once the premise of the project is established, we set a timeline with several milestones. One of the first few milestones is the presentation of the design proposals, where we walk the client through each proposal. Subsequently, we update our clients of the progress till the piece has been realised and presented.
All our bespoke jewelleries are hand-crafted in Singapore by skilled artisans we have developed relationships with over time. This enables us to ensure the highest levels of not only quality, but transparency as well.
- It’s already unique when your jewelleries are presented by themselves, let alone customized. When you couple it with objects, it really fortifies your brand and gives a persona/story to them. Tell us about Hudson and Timothy?
- R & A: Substate was our inaugural collection, our introduction to the world beyond just the both of us. When we created the objects of Substate, it was crucial that the pieces embodied the true essence of the brand – navigating the cusp between objects and jewellery.
Substate jewellery is the result of exploring how these pieces lived on our bodies. Through the objects of Substate, we wanted to imagine where they could exist without.
- The Hudson Clutch
- R & A: The Hudson Clutch features silhouettes of the Holmes earrings, embossed in its leather. It frames the life of the earrings when removed from the body, paying attention to the journey of jewellery returning to their roots of becoming a metal object of weight and impact.
- R & A: Timothy is a bedside table made from teak wood. It features a drawer to house antidotes to the everyday noise and an indentation on the top surface. Taking reference from the common habit of putting jewellery on the nightstand before bed, this indentation responds to George, a ring from the same collection. Timothy is designed to be George’s oasis, a surface where George can silently slip into slumber.
- We’re also interested in knowing a bit more of these items – Bakshi, Lestrade and Salander Noir. Tell us a bit about them?
- R & A: Salander Noir
The rock and roll sister of Salander, the Salander Noir is like a pair of good quality denim. The more you wear it, the more it changes to reflect you. This 18K yellow gold ring is plated in matte black rhodium. This plating rubs away the more wear it gets, the same way a pair of jeans distresses over time.
- R & A: Lestrade earrings were designed to be an everyday statement. The movement of the hinged loops help activate the voids between the neck and shoulders. Smart yet casual, they make a great companion from day to night.
- R & A: The Bakshi earrings lend a structured silhouette to the wearer. It keeps things interesting by introducing new dimensions when seen from different angles. Sterling silver is paired with contemporary materials resulting in variations that suit every mood.
- Are there any difficulties you two faced when starting up and maintaining your own brand?
- R & A: We jumped straight into the deep end, starting a business fresh out of school. And with this came the inexperience with the business aspect of design. This was and still is our biggest challenge – be it pricing, strategy or managing our team. Because of this, we have to keep experimenting and making mistakes; or winging it when we haven’t the faintest clue what to do. But it keeps things exciting!
- Do you have any tips for jewellery and industrial designers who want to start something of their own?
- R & A: Look for a photographer who understands and can deliver what you hope to portray. Once you have found the right one, never let him/her go. More often than not, the first encounter with your designs would be made online or in print.
- Lastly, a takeaway message for readers?
- R: I’ll end it off with a quote that Afzal and I lean on whenever we hit a wall: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” – Suzy Kassem