T.B.N Interviews: Wallace Chan

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight, T.B.N Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2014 by James Field

 

“My greatest enjoyment is to express emotions, wisdom of our ancestors and the greatness of Mother Nature through jewelry creation.” -Wallace Chan

 

I am honored and overjoyed to feature a fascinating and extremely inspiring interview that I conducted with Master Sculpture & Jeweler, Mr. Wallace Chan. We discuss his exceptional skill in jewelry design, his inspirations from nature and his outlook on life and creativity.

Enjoy….

 

To begin I would like to formally welcome Master Sculpture & Jeweler Mr. Wallace Chan to The Black Nouveau, I am so honored to speak with you.

TBN: Since your debut as the first Asian designer at the 2012 Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris with the collection “Path to Enlightenment: Art & Zen” your work has been featured in countless publications and has been critically acclaimed as works of sculptural art.

Your style is a whimsical blend of naturalistic themes, fantastical motifs and exceptional craftsmanship, where do you draw inspiration from?

W.C: To create is to live fully, to absorb knowledge in all ways, and to practice repeatedly. The creating process can be described with two words, “life” and “understanding”.

Life is the key to creation, a vital element. Creation changes, and is full of vitality, it reflects the pulse of the heart and the spirit of the age, and motivates the development of history. Creation and life are interactive, for there to be creation, there must be life, and for life to have meanings, creativity is a must.

“Understanding” involves communication and channels. The creator must understand the skies, the earth and in between the two, human beings. It may sound a bit vague, but to put it in simple words, it means the creator should learn about the past, the present and the future, and he should dig into different kinds of knowledge e.g. astrology, geography, technology, history, psychology and philosophy etc.

As for inspiration, when you understand life and the universe, you will naturally understand that, there is humanity in everything, from a piece of wood to an elephant. When you treat them with emotions, they respond to you in the same way. Inspiration comes from the accumulation of our everyday experience. Like the herbal cabinet of the Chinese doctors, each little piece of our memories is stored in one little drawer, and when I see a gemstone, these pieces of memories come out from different drawers, they entwine, merge and transform with one another, and this interaction generates creativity.

I hope to re-interpret and enliven the elements of Mother Nature and culture through jewelry creation, and pass the wisdom of the skies, the earth and human beings on to the next generation. But to make it happen, solid and cultivated craftsmanship is crucial, from techniques to materials and tools, it is important to invent new ways in order to have our imagination actualized.

T.B.N: You have been credited as the creator of the “Wallace Cut” may I ask what this means, how did you come about designing it?

W.C: Why did I invent “Wallace Cut”?  One time I went to a photography exhibition, in one of the photographs I saw the images of a man overlapped.  They said it was a dark room technique called “multiple exposures”.  I wondered if I could achieve the same effect with carving.  I kept this piece of memory and the curiosity on my mind. When I finally started learning about gemstone cutting, I saw how the light entered the gemstone’s body through its surface, and how the light interacts intensively inside it.  This experience recalled my impression on “multiple exposure”, and since I had acquired the knowledge to carve and design with gemstones, I could try to realize my idea this time.

The Wallace Cut is a carving technique which creates an illusion in transparent materials by combining medieval 360-degree intaglio into 3-dimension engraving.  The resulting quintuple reflection unifies these features with precise calculation and angle casting and forms a 3-dimension and multi-line reflection.

The "Now and Always" necklace featuring a signature 35.4ct Wallace Cut aquamarine with the image of Horae the Greek Goddess of nature, with amethysts, diamonds, blue topaz, sapphires and opals.

The “Now and Always” necklace featuring a signature 35.4ct Wallace Cut aquamarine with the image of Horae the Greek Goddess of nature, with amethysts, diamonds, blue topaz, sapphires and opals.

The concept sounds simple, but the execution was near impossible.  Let’s take my “Horae” design as an example.  To get a full-bodied, 3-dimensional face for this work, I had to empty out precisely just such a face at the back.  First, I bored a tiny hole right in the center.  That’s the starting point, which is the nose.  Then I slowly widened the space from inside out.  As it was done in reverse, every drill was an act of reverse thinking: left is right, deep is shallow, and front is back.  Since the space inside is the face of the Goddess itself, there was no space to move around. But that’s how the image acquired multiple reflections, creating different angles of the face.  I carved the front view of the Goddess, and she would be looking at me sideways

Moreover, the tools that were available on the market were not sophisticated enough.  I had to make some of the tools specifically for this work.  I went to a factory and became an apprentice in order to learn about the mechanics it took to invent the tools. After six months in the factory, I found out that I could use the dentist’s tool for it.  But the drill rotated for 36,000 times per minute, which was too fast, and the heat it generated while carving would damage the stone.  At last I realized that I had to do the carving under water.  So here it went: I carved, I dried the stone, checked to see if it was alright, (because one tiny mistake would be reflected into four more mistakes, and the whole piece of work would be ruined,) and then I put it into water to carve again. It was a stroke by stroke process, I forgot how many hours I worked on each piece, but at the end I felt that my mind, my hand, and the tool were all working as one, it was my consciousness doing the carving. It was 1987, and it was one of the craziest carving periods in my life. I surrendered myself to the magic of light and shadow, and found great happiness in it.

I had to do a lot of calculations to determine where the center was – where exactly would the face be situated.  The next step was the amount of space for each half of the face; both sides have to be symmetrical.  Then there were the angles of the faceting on the periphery of the face in order to achieve the number of reflections that I wanted.   And even if the calculations were all correct, I still needed to put them through some trials before I committed them to the stone.  All in all, this piece took me two years to finish, not counting the years I spent in perfecting the 3-dimensional technique. Life was not easy during those two years, I had to earn a living, and at the same time keep inventing.

T.B.N: With your vast knowledge of Gemology, metallurgy and sculpture, what sort of obstacles do you encounter when designing a piece? You have been known to completely destroy pieces if they are not up to your standards, would you call yourself a perfectionist when it comes to your art?

W.C: Since I began my creative journey in 1973, I have gotten used to absorbing knowledge and techniques from all directions. The wisdom left to us by our ancestors benefits us throughout life, but no matter what we do, we must not depend it all on existing knowledge. We have to explore and pave new paths. We have to turn our world upside down. Upon the old foundation, we have to build something new for the development of our future.

Difficulty has an intimate relationship with creation. It nurtures creativity and through challenges we grow. Difficulty comes from everywhere, from tools to techniques, materials and our mentality. But as long as we can overcome our own desires, we know how to deal with difficulty without backing down, as well as without fear, anxiety and disgust. The path of creation is often lonely, but this lonesome feeling makes us strong and helps us persist. Creativity grows as a result. I feel that I have entered a fairyland every time I meet obstacles, and once I solve my problems, I go back on earth with a sense of satisfaction and joy that is beyond words.

I pursue perfection, but there is no perfection in this world, there is nothing you can call the highest, or the best. But this is the reason why there are limitless possibilities. As there is no limitation, I can pursue perfection without fear, I can try, I can fail, and there is no need to compromise. I am used to absorbing new knowledge with open arms and an open heart. I am always under pressure, and upon the existing pressure I pressure myself even more, to explore the depth and width of knowledge and work my mind out.

T.B.N: My absolute favorite pieces are your exquisite butterflies. They represent your work very well and are a reoccurring theme in your collections. Do you have a favorite piece that you consider your greatest achievement?

 

W.C: Underneath the sugar-coated idea – “greatest achievement”, you can only find stumbling blocks. I do not have anything that I can call my “greatest achievement”, but I am happy to share with you a creation that I have recently completed. This creation has been on my mind for more than a decade, until about 4 or 5 years ago, I started to have it realized. In the process of creation, I went through tons of struggles and was often close to giving it up, but I couldn’t help continuing. Finally, it was completed right before the 27th Biennale des Antiquaires.

The Wallace Chan "Secret Abyss" necklace has a yellow diamond of 10.05 cts set in a rutilated quartz shell of 211.74ct and complemented with emeralds, fancy colored diamonds, amethysts and rutilated quartz.

The Wallace Chan “Secret Abyss” necklace has a yellow diamond of 10.05 cts set in a rutilated quartz shell of 211.74ct and complemented with emeralds, fancy colored diamonds, amethysts and rutilated quartz.

This creation is titled “Secret Abyss”; it expresses my exploration on the meaning of existence.

More than 10 years ago, I saw a magician trying to escape from a glass tank of water whilst chained and handcuffed; logic said that it wasn’t possible, yet he escaped. I was moved by the performance; I was, in fact, extremely impressed. And after some years the idea of “Secret Abyss” came alive on my mind.

When you try to make an idea reality, it is often the case that a series of difficulties, sacrifices and failures tag along. I was looking for the materials for this creation, at first I thought crystal would do, but it was too clear, so it could not create the dream-like feeling I wanted. I gave up the idea of using crystal and turned to rutilated quartz instead. The texture of rutilated quartz gives the feel of a fairyland. But it is not easy to find rutilated quartz that meets the standard required for my creation, so it took a long time and great efforts.

After acquiring the suitable materials, I created a 6.5MM opening on the rutilated quartz, through this small opening my tools got in and empty the stone out. Where could I find the right tools to do this? As the creation has never been done before, naturally no one had invented the tools I needed. So it was another long process of consideration, calculation, design and experiment to have the right tools invented. I’d better not go into details here.

After a series of failures and tons of broken materials, I finally found a way to empty the stone out in a satisfying state. The 43MM wide space inside the stone became my creative space. My tools entered the space through the 6.5MM opening, and gemstone clouds were set. I would say that the 6.5MM opening was the entrance and exit of my soul, it extended my existence. Inside the rutilated quartz there was this metaphysical world, in which there were materials. What is empty is no longer empty, the clouds float in light and colors… – that denotes a state of mind, as well as a state of life.

T.B.N: What do you enjoy most about your career? What advice would you give to aspiring designers and business owners?

 

W.C: Accessories have existed in human history for a long, long time. It appeared way earlier than other forms of art. It is an ancient culture, and this culture has then become evidence of civilization, and an embodiment of knowledge aesthetics, wisdom and emotions. And my greatest enjoyment is to express emotions, wisdom of our ancestors and the greatness of Mother Nature through jewelry creation. Jewelry stands for eternity, and through this eternal media I can share the stories and meanings of life with others.

Designer and creator are different, and they are different from merchant or dealer. Very often, designers come up with ideas and sketches, and then they hand over their ideas and sketches to craftsmen to work on. However, I encourage designers who are interested in the jewelry field to learn with patience, and to train up their ability to reach out to all directions – on the top there is culture, philosophy and art, beneath these there is knowledge of a craftsman that includes optics, physics, ergonomics, metallurgy etc., on the left you find technology, and on the right there are trends and markets… The mastery of all allows greater creative freedom.

I am not very good at commercial activities, certainly not an expert in business. But I believe that as a merchant, dealer or investor of this field, it is important to acquire thorough knowledge of the field in order to recognize the talents of a creator. Designers and creators live in their own worlds, their pursuits tend to be more spiritual, but merchants live in a collective world, and economic growth is their fundamental consideration. But the former and the latter join hands to create the many legends we have seen in this industry.

T.B.N: Your pieces are considered to be works of art in their own right, and I would certainly agree that they are extraordinarily beautiful yet delicate and complex. Was that always the goal when you were designing your first pieces?

 

Wallace Chan “Fleur de la Dynastie Tang” brooch with rubies, yellow diamonds, pink sapphires, tsavorites, garnets, emeralds and diamonds.

 

Featuring the world’s largest flawless purple sapphire weighing 164.39ct this is the “Gabriella Rose” necklace symbolizing femininity, harmony and tranquility.

 

W.C: If I must define the goal of my creation, it is the true, the good and the beautiful. When I feel that my creations are far from meeting the standard, that is when I have to destroy them and start over, or I may put them aside for a period of time, and try to enhance and enliven the knowledge on my mind. My creations come alive when I enter a new world of thinking.

I have this very strong belief in my life: only when I have my work done to perfection today can my dreams be realized tomorrow. I maintain the same attitude towards any goals, dreams, obstacles and challenges in my life. It is fair to say that, in life, we may not always be rewarded for our hard work, but it is always true that no pain, no gain.

The aesthetics and craftsmanship of each piece of creation is nothing but the result of hard work.

T.B.N: Lastly, what is the ultimate vision for yourself and your brand? How would you like to be remembered as a designer?

W.C: I enjoy living for the moment, spending every second and every minute on creation. History is vast, and deep, the universe is wide, and limitless, and our existence is so small. I look at the world with the curious eyes of a child. I have to seize the moment, practice on and do my homework. Once I have completed a piece of work, I must move on to something new right away, as I cannot linger in the satisfaction that belongs only to the past. I hope that with my creations I can fulfill my responsibility for history, and I leave it to history to grade my performance.

It was great honor to be given the chance to interview Mr Chan. His passion, seemingly endless creativity and respect for his art only fuels my own career goals. He is, in my eyes the true definition of the word “Craftsman” using his various skills and experience to create one of kind, sublimely beautiful and timeless works of art.

Special thanks to the Atelier of Mr Wallace Chan.

J.F

Nouveau Spotlight: The 26th Annual International Fine Art & Antique Show

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2014 by James Field

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“I adore wearing gems, but not because they are mine. You can’t possess radiance, you can only admire it.”

-Elizabeth Taylor

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 26th Annual International Fine Art & Antique show at the Park Avenue Armory on 67th street. Talk about a dose of awesome! This place was packed with vendors from all over the world showing off their wears, ranging from 16th century tapestries, 18th century Indian art work, swords, sculpture, and of course fine jewelry.

I was dazzled by the fine collections of Hancocks of London, Kentshire, Epoque Fine Jewels, and so many more. To see the mesmerizing array of diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and the like up close was truly a treat and a major inspiration for my work. One of my greatest goals is to become a fine jewelry designer and dealer, and by taking in the sights such as this show, my passion only grows.

Some of the highlights for me were the incredibly detailed and delicate vintage jewelry pieces from the house’s of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Schumberger for Tiffany’s & Co.

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THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR, WALLIS SIMPSON, AMETHYST, TURQUOISE AND DIAMOND BRACELET, CARTIER, 1954

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Hey that’s me looking creepy lol

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I enjoyed playing the game of “Guess what gem this is” with many of the vendors and was even allowed to try on a few pieces. Whenever I am around people that are knowledgeable in something that I wish to become knowledgeable in, I almost always ask as many questions as possible. Its a great way to learn, memorize and draw inspiration when visiting exhibitions, trade shows etc.

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I adore these floral brooches of rubies, diamonds and sapphires, one of which (the bottom left blue carnation) belonged to the famous fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli!

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Ancient Egyptian Semi Precious Stone Necklaces

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I had a wonderful time and I wish to thank the lovely vendors and staff who made my trip such a special one.

I would also like to thank Natalie from Jewels du Jour for the tickets, thank you so much!

If you wish to check out the show, it will be at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street until Oct 23rd.

Visit Jewels du Jour they are giving a way a limited amount of free tickets!

Thank you all for reading.

J.F

T.B.N Interviews: Tunji Alade III

Posted in T.B.N Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2014 by James Field

 

 

TUNJI_Promo5_x

 

Today I am please to welcome singer/songwriter Tunji Alade III to The Black Nouveau. We discuss his love of music, fashion, song writing and his plan to become the next great musical artist.

 

T.B.N- Welcome Tunji and thank you for taking the time to talk with me!Lets begin with your background, where are you from?

T.A- I am from Houston, Texas. My family is from Lagos, Nigeria, London and Guanajuato, Mexico. I also have family in Virginia and New York City.

T.B.N- Your music is a wonderful mix of sounds and you have a very captivating voice. Was music something that always aroused interest in you? How would you describe your music style?

T.A- Music has always been my first love. I’ve always been attracted to it and it has always been part of my desire, music makes me feel and inspires me. I won my first contest at age seven in a classical music competition. I was a runner-up and won a contest to visit this amusement park called Fame City.

I would describe my musical style as smooth, vibrant, fresh, bold and even raw. I’d say my music ranges from Hip Hop to smooth Rhythm and Blues, Soul, EDM, Acid Jazz and Jungle and House mixes. My music emanates from experiences, breakups to relationships, love and vice versa. I describe my music as a style that is…married to fashion, art and the club lounge experience.

T.B.N- How long have you been singing? Also you write your own music, what sort of challenges do you face when creating a new song?

T.A- I’ve been singing since I was thirteen and writing since I was seventeen. Thinking of a new song is like an idea, I can come up with hundreds of ideas just from the instrumental. People don’t want me to think of a new song, they want to see my live performance; they want to be able to connect with me and get to know me.

T.B.N- Share with us a little about your new album. What was the inspiration behind it?

2k

 

 

T.A- My album so far has eight songs. My EP with six songs was just leased through INgrooves Music, the back office of Universal Music Group.

My name is Tunji Alade, and my full name is Tunji Jemi-Alade III. Tungsten Light is sort of an anagram of my name, Tunji Alade. Essentially the tungsten light hue is only visible naturally at magic hour. The inspiration behind my album is to find hints and clues. Fate, paths, and destiny interconnected with people through the human experience and through music.

T.B.N- How do you see yourself and your music evolving within the next few years? What are your long term goals?

 T.A- I see myself evolving greatly. They say it is not where you’ve been but where you’re going. Right now, I’m affiliated with a company called Hotbox. Ironically, I see myself with a team that will tell me who that is. I’m not even being sarcastic. Seriously, I hired a manager not long ago and we almost signed a major deal and it sort of fell flat because attorneys from Warner Brothers called my managers office back and said that I am/was with attorney/client privileges. This was not too long ago and when I contacted Warner Brothers Music, no one knew who I was. It was kind of strange submitting my demo and getting calls back from Interscope, Sony then getting word from a manager that I hired saying that Warner Brothers contacted him and told his management office that I am with attorney/client. Having no documents signed, no official contract, no statements that told me it was official, nothing in writing to let me know what was going on was strange.

Even in retrospect for me to think of where I want to be its very clear because I was affiliated with a major studio in 2000. In 2002, my junior year in college, my university pulled me aside and told me that they had officially gotten word that my undergraduate work was created into a music video and was  broadcast on national television. Then all of a sudden in 2002, I had a million dollar offer for a property and a random phone call from a broker that told me she handled all my paperwork. Right when I was going to buy a 1.1 million dollar mansion, coincidentally, my off campus apartment flooded as a sick building with a sanitation problem of a flooding toilet; it became difficult and my university would not tell me what company contacted them to verify what company I was working for.

Being an underground artist or ghost writer, I see myself evolving with the right team. I want to formalize my contracts with the right team. I know about business, about knock-offs and the intricacies of trends, being a hot artist or an artist that has the new hairstyle, new digs, new style. And how to strive to for a level above that into a longevity hallmark level. Signing with the right major and formalizing the right deal in the right way so that there is no confusion if it is realistic and that it is literally legitimate. For me, my expectation is to move forward with a team that will give me full creative control and options to work with artists that I respect.

I am not trying to be any artist except me. My music is my voice. My music is married to fashion. I see my shows as being part high energy choreography and part runway show. My followers are affluent heads, people who love fashion, art and commerce. In the next few years, I see my album already published and licensed while working on a second and third follow-up album, acting in feature films and doing business with the most advanced marketing endorsers. I see myself immersed in the business and doing what I love.

Tuji 2

 

T.B.N- Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring singer/songwriters? Was there anyone that you admired growing up that inspired your interest in music, and how?

T.A- I was scouted by a major agency and won a modeling competition at age seventeen in High School and was not allowed to follow my path. I also was not allowed to play a musical instrument growing up. It can be very brutal, move masterfully, don’t let others who don’t care about your goals determine your rate of success. Make it happen.

When I was growing up I admired all kinds of music. I especially loved music in different languages from foreign countries. Then around 2006, music really started speaking to me in a special way, I started to really command on the Piano with a handful of songs I composed. Then, Tunechi came out and my friends started asking me if I could sing. I love music from Coltrane to Davis to Portishead to Massive Attack to Green Day, Niyaz, Maxwell, Timberlake, Timbaland, Alicia Keys, Jay Z and Beyonce. Any Grammy award winning artist or any artist under Berry Gordy or his understudy, Etcetera.

 

I would like to sincerely thank my good friend Tunji for this interview. Please visit Tunji below and take a listen of his truly unique and original sound.

www.Tunji-Alade.com

Thank you all for reading!

J.F

 

L’Amour de Bijoux: The Love of Jewels

Posted in Art Nouveau, Nouveau Spotlight, Obsessions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2014 by James Field
The 41 carat "Dresden Green" is the largest naturally green diamond to date.

The 41 carat “Dresden Green” is the largest naturally green Diamond to date.

 

I believe that my love of jewelry design, art and style began when I was a young boy. I remember subtle things such as my mothers engagement ring of white gold and black onyx that my father gave her. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! So chic on her finger and so timeless at the same time. From then on, I would say my mother and her love of jewelry sparked something in my own creative soul.

My mother traveled to Kuwait on a business trip when I was young boy. While she was there she acquired the most beautiful diamond and ruby ring of about 2 carats. I had never seen anything like it, and I dare didn’t asked how much is cost. The irony is that even though I purchased her a small pink sapphire pendant necklace as a gift on the day of her return, her ring was absolutely stunning and I have fallen in love with jewelry design ever since.

So without further ado, this is my Love of Jewels.

Bahadur Shah Zafar II India (Delhi), Mughal, c. 1850 Watercolors on ivory

Bahadur Shah Zafar II
India (Delhi), Mughal, c. 1850
Watercolors on ivory

 

One of my greatest inspirations will always be the great Mughal Emperors of India. The splendor and grandeur of their Pearls, Emeralds, Silks, Diamonds, Rubies and Sapphires rivaled that of any King in the world. They looked so regal and exalted that all who saw them knew, they were royalty and should as such adorn themselves accordingly.

Turban Ornament India (West Bengal), Mughal, c. 1755 Gold, set with diamonds, rubies, a sapphire, Colombian emeralds and a pearl.

Turban Ornament
India (West Bengal), Mughal, c. 1755
Gold, set with diamonds, rubies, a sapphire, Colombian emeralds and a pearl.

 

I love the elegance that something like this Turban Ornament gives to the wearer. As an option this item could also be styled as a brooch on a great jacket. Great jewelry design for me is about timeless design and the highest quality of gemstones, and also versatility.

 

Mango-shaped rock crystal Flask India, Mughal, mid-17th century Rock crystal; set with gold, enamel, rubies, and emeralds

Mango-shaped rock crystal Flask
India, Mughal, mid-17th century
Rock crystal; set with gold, enamel, rubies, and emeralds

 

This whimsical and charming flask is from the time of Shah Jahan, the Emperor who built the Taj Mahal in the 17th century. This is a truly wonderful example of imagination and the mix of timeless design, exceptional taste, and quality materials.

My collection grows.

My collection grows.

 

Though my collection is certainly not on the level of the Great Emperors of India whom I admire, it still holds dear to my heart. Most of my pieces are vintage or hand crafted using emeralds, gold, pearls and silver. I hope to one day expand my collection to higher end pieces with more historical importance. My collection is a mix of vintage, gifted and purchased items with the silver rhinestone panther ring and brooch both being vintage finds for example, and the silver beaded bracelet with black onyx, a gift from my mother.

The long adored and cherished pearl is my zodiac birthstone, so the two strand freshwater pearl bracelet is something I was lucky enough to find at a vintage jewelry fair in New York City. The emerald stone and pearl bracelet with matching silver and emerald stone ring where hand-made for me in India and are my latest additions. The black rhinestone bracelet was a gift, and the gold Damascene bracelet next to it, a purchase on trip to Miami, Florida. The gold floral scroll cuff was an online vintage find, and the gold Damascene bracelet above it a vintage fair find as well.

Lauren Hutton by Milton Greene, 1966

Lauren Hutton by Milton Greene, 1966

 

I absolutely love this classic ad of Lauren Hutton dripping in jewels. I wish to one day create quality of this nature. I formerly owned and produced a jewelry designing brand called Sergio James with an old friend of mine, based out of New York City. We crafted jewelry using simple materials such as wood, spray paint, gold and silver leaf and metal filigree accents. I do miss the times that we created elegant yet simple collections, but its time to move on to more glittering pursuits. My goal is to achieve Master Jeweler status which is a very high honor.

I finally have had time as of late to start crafting and brainstorming jewelry concepts. Check out what I have been working on so far…

I present my little sample collection which I call "The Golden Black Pearl Collection"

I present my little sample collection which I call “The Golden Black Pearl Collection”

 

Yes! I love how they turned out, the are my perfect whimsical items all in gold. The black freshwater pearl is hand-woven with gold wire through a gold feather pendant at the end of a gold and black enamel chain. The diadems are gold bands with gold feather scroll pendants that I have hand-woven with gold wire to form this leaf crest pattern and this branch like design. The set is my perfect royal nod to history. This is only the start and more creations are to come.  I am so happy to FINALLY start designing again. Please stay tuned for more.

 

Thank you all for reading!

Cheers!

James Field

 

T.B.N Interviews: Lawrence Charles

Posted in T.B.N Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by James Field

With every new year comes new beginnings. For myself and The Black Nouveau, I wanted to kick off my interviews section with a dynamic, entrepreneurial spirit that embodies the new energy that I wish to bring forth this year.

Enter Mr Lawrence Charles, CEO and Founder of the luxury tea company Charles & Company. He is a man of great character and perseverance, and he made his dream come true with true grit and determination. He talks to us today about his struggles growing up in the inner city with a single parent, modeling for one of the biggest names in Fashion, and ultimately creating the brand that bears his name.

T.B.N- Welcome Mr. Charles and thank you for taking the time to speak with me about Charles & Company. Let’s begin with a little background, where are you from?

L.C- I’m from Canton, Ohio. I grew up in the inner-city and was raised by a single mother. My grandmother and grandfather played an important role, but I did a lot of “self-parenting.” It was normal to do things like walk to school by myself in kindergarten, or have to make parent level decisions regarding my education, dealing with counselors, etc. I essentially escaped high school by the skin of my teeth. I wanted to attend college and double major in Industrial Design and International Economics or Finance.

Schools like Wharton made me salivate, but I finished high school with a 1.2 GPA. I found myself navigating a home life of both parents on drugs while fighting with my teachers and an education system that sorted me below my aptitude. I simply gave up fighting and just survived. Upon finishing high school I was able to get into college on my talent alone. I was off to Pittsburgh. I went to design school and studied Industrial Design with an emphasis on consumer product design and interactive software development. To get through school in Pittsburgh I lived in a homeless shelter. There, I learned how to play chess at the level of chess master. You’d be surprised who you may find in a homeless shelter, but being a kid there I was taken under the wing of some caring, brilliant people. There, I learned how fragile life is. I also learned to be present. I learned how to love, care for, and care about people from all walks and circumstances. To this day, although I’ve worked with Royalty, and extremely powerful people and celebrities, I believe that everyone is a dignitary. Everyone.

I finished school at the top of my class and was recruited by one of my professors to be a Head Designer on a start-up children’s television series. It went on to win 3 Telly Awards, beating juggernauts like Fox Kids and Disney. About this time was when Tommy Hilfiger came calling.

T.B.N- After reading your bio I can, on many levels, relate to your upbringing by a single parent in an urban and sometimes discouraging environment. Did that ever deter you from pursuing your dreams?

L.C- Yes I had challenges, but I think the question may have been more about did I feel challenged in my ability to achieve my dreams and goals. Every one of us has talents and fresh passion that helps us in pursuing our goals. But in coming from an urban environment, there’s generally no one there to help you understand the talent you possess. Nor are you just a parent, uncle, or sibling removed from seeing for example an attorney, a professor, an investment banker. I had to set out on a path of defining and understanding what these incredible gifts and talents God gave me were, and then how to use them and hone them. So, pursuing your dreams from there is somewhat of a long chartered flight.

T.B.N- Did you always have the entrepreneurial spirit, and when did it begin flourish?

L.C- Yes. In kindergarten through grade school I would auction off my “hand-me-down” toys to neighboring adults for their kids. In the 2nd or 3rd grade I was always building, constructing things out of paper or whatever spare parts I could find. I rarely built things for the norm, but rather the aberration. I was pioneering then. By 7 years old I stumbled across a flower factory in town that was constantly throwing out what I thought were perfect flowers. I came up with the idea to sell flowers in front of a busy bank on Fridays. Even at 7 I knew that was when everyone got paid. I had category pricing, meaning I would set prices by what I thought commanded more or less. I would also bundle deals, like purchase 2 for “X” price. By high school I started a neighborhood barbershop.

T.B.N- Your work as a model and spokesperson for Tommy Hilfiger must have been an exciting and memorable time in your life. Tell us the story of how that came to be?

L.C- While I was going to design school, I took advantage of the filming that was done in Pittsburgh and the different casting offices as well as modeling and I just turned my photo into as many places as I could. I was a “starving artist.” One day I received a call from Tommy Hilfiger NY that was left on my voice-mail at home. I almost lost my mind. That was a surreal moment. I did a show for Tommy and with Rebecca Romijn. That sent me to New York City and was the launch of my modeling career.

T.B.N- When did your love of Tea begin?

L.C- I began drinking tea while in New York City. New York is a non-stop, 24/7 city, but when I discovered tea I found that it had an almost magical ability to quiet and slow down the chaos of the city. I fell in love with the history of tea and how it was King Charles II that integrated tea in to the higher, social fabric of British society. How it was through the influence of his wife, and her use of it to socialize with family and friends.

T.B.N- What were some of the challenges you faced when launching the company?

L.C- Without question, capital. And I also had no idea what I was doing from the perspective of building a real, organized start-up company. I owned a bicycle, I had a backpack and all I knew was to take my tea to places I thought I could find people to buy my tea. I was literally selling tea on the streets.

T.B.N- What is your favorite tea to drink and why?

L.C- My favorite to drink is breakfast tea because I like that its complex, but I’m fond of its simplicity.

T.B.N- For those who are not aware, what are some of the many health benefits of drinking tea?

L.C- Tea is an amazing elixir that scientists are discovering new things about continuously. If you just take a look at white, green, oolong, and black tea, you will find things like Thiamine, which affect the brain and heightens mental alertness and concentration. Tea contains good antioxidants that thwart free radicals and slows aging. Outside of its ability to help you fight common colds, tea helps prevent cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

One of the most overlooked health benefits of tea is what it does for mental health. Just by sharing a cup with a friend or a neighbor or in your own solitude allows you to take a moment, slow down, stop thinking about the bills, the kids, etc. But it allows you to be present and pulls you out of the challenges of life. This is critical to your mental well-being.

T.B.N- What are some of Charles & Company’s bestselling teas?

L.C- It varies at times, but I would say our Indian Chai, White Blueberry Pomegranate, or Coconut Chamomile. Chai is in many ways the basis of Ayurveda. Our Indian Chai is very traditional, I use clusters of spices like cardamom, pieces of cinnamon, and ginger beautifully arranged in a deep, smoky Indian black tea. With our White Blueberry Pomegranate, to raise the antioxidant and vitamin C levels, I use freeze-dried blueberries and pomegranate that’s laid in a beautiful, open leafed white tea which gives it a deeper, richer brew. Our Coconut Chamomile begins with fresh, beautifully picked chamomile flowers, tossed in with delicious coconut meat and honey bush. I’ve been told by customers it’s so good, and that if you drink too much you’ll hallucinate. Those customers, I believe, may have been enjoying something else along with our tea.

T.B.N- What are some of your future plans for Charles & Company?

L.C- First of all, I listen to the pull of our customers. This is a great barometer as to where we will and can be. In addition, we have built up a ton of cachet that we will begin to slowly cash in on. Our customers have done us an incredible service by giving us the title “luxury.” For this I am deeply grateful. In being a luxury brand, we cater to lifestyle. We are currently in talks with a couple major department stores. We are already looking at expansion in Europe. Our customers have been asking for china, so we will be launching our line of tea ware and china soon. Our customers consider us the “Ralph Lauren of tea,” so I believe this gives us the ability to become a multibillion dollar brand. I’m excited about what’s ahead.

 

Kathy Eldon & Lawrence Charles

Kathy Eldon & Lawrence Charles

 

T.B.N- What advice would you give struggling entrepreneurs?

L.C -

· Be persistent.

· Be persistent.

· Be kindly persistent.

· By all means do what you say.

· By all means, follow through. It’s tough to have so much on your plate at once, so delays are understood, but by all means follow through.

· Following through builds trust.

· Get a financial adviser if you already don’t have one.

· Get a mentor too.

· Listen to your adviser (And learn through your own experience what advice is working. Don’t just think you’re right. Let go a little)

· Listen to your customer. Pursue what you deeply believe is the correct path, but they will ultimately show you the way.

· Learn how to grow with no capital. When you get capital, continue to be resourceful.

· Revenue is deceiving.

· By all means, find your “product-market-fit.”

· Once you have your product market fit, build your network of “strategic” advisers.

· Continually look at growth and how your company fits into this thought of growth.

· If you’re a millennial or generation X African-American, do not carry the weight of your parents, and do not be coerced to do so. Yes, racism still exists in parts. So what, it’s not the majority. As Maya Angelou said, ‘Pick up your crown and wear it!’

T.B.N- What do you love most about your job?

L.C- Building a brand is a magical experience. I love everything, especially the people and the relationships. We get to work with amazing people both famous and not famous. From HRH The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson; Greta Garbo’s Estate; Diane Von Furstenberg’s Estate; to Jane Tranter, BBC Worldwide/The CW Network’s TV show “Breaking Pointe.”

T.B.N- Lastly, please give us some final words about Charles & Company and what you hope people will discover about your products.

Charles & Company Tea founded by Lawrence Charles brings to life the experience of traditional British Tea. The company was started to share the comfort, health, serenity, and togetherness that people experience while drinking tea. With a background as an award-winning Industrial Designer, CEO Lawrence Charles’ passion for creativity and elegance is present from the first step of selecting the leaves, to the last step of sharing Charles & Company Tea with the world. Charles & Company has signature blends you can learn about and purchase at www.cnctea.com

Thank you so much Lawrence for taking the time to inspire us all with your story and speaking for me, it was my pleasure. I look forward to hearing more about Charles & Company and I wish you much success on your future endeavors.

Like Charles & Company Tea on Facebook

Follow Charles & Company Tea on Twitter: http://twitter.com/charlesncompany

J.F

Nouveau Spotlight: Martin de Tours

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , on March 3, 2014 by James Field

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In our current economic climate, many people are finding themselves spending less on “fast fashion” and investing in more quality pieces with longevity. I  (reluctantly) have discovered the value in purchasing slightly more expensive, but longer lasting pieces for my own wardrobe that I may rotate through the seasons. However, at times the best alternative is made to measure and when it comes to fine suiting and tailoring, that is where quality craftsmanship vs “off the rack” prevails.

Enter a new such made to measure label by the name of Martin de Tours. Founded on the principles of accessibility, efficiency and the revolution of men taking pride in their appearance again, they have created a unique and exceptional tailoring experience for all.

Combining old world techniques and new technology to create custom fitted suits and shirting, this new brand is on its way to menswear sartorial importance.  The use of cut seems to be the most obvious statement as these looks will illustrate…

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I think it very important and economically savvy for more men to have a better understanding of their bodies and what fits their personal aesthetic, so that they may shop with greater confidence. Martin de Tours does just that, with a full-time “Valet” of sorts who will take your exact measurements and present material options for all your suiting needs. They are re-introducing the classic style and taste of custom suiting with made to measure, exceptional quality menswear.

Please visit Martin de Tours for more information, also please support the growing of this brand with sponsorship via Kickstarter, click here.

Thank you Alexandra of Martin de Tours and I wish you guys all the best. I will be meeting you soon for my measurements!

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JF

Honma Golf 2013 Promotional Campaign x OWN Magazine New York

Posted in Art Nouveau with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2013 by James Field

This is short promotional video that was commissioned by Japanese Golf company, Honma by OWN Magazine. We shot all around New York City with a incredible team of people and finished the day on the roof of a private residence in the Chelsea area.

Some behind the scenes photos are below, stay tuned for more OWN Magazine collaborations.

Chelsea Penthouse Roof

Kota (My Editor and dear friend)

www.Honmagolf.co.jp

www.OWN-Magazine.com

Thank you so much to:

Model______________________Andrew Banks
Stylist______________________Shala Rothenberg
Visual Effect_________________Akinori Yamanaka
Director of Photography________Philipp Wolter
Director&Editor_______________Kaname Hatano
Art Director&Producer__________Kota Kuramoto
Stylist Assistant_______________Shonna Williams
Special Thanks_______________Taro Ohtsuki, Jonathan Pozniak, James Field, Erina Abe, Nobu Ouchi

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