With a masterful artistic flair and a fascination of science, Ona Chan is the fourth generation Chinese Canadian with a passion for creative design. Influenced by travel and the blending of her Canadian upbringing, ancestral background and cultural heritage, the creative designer hosts a narrative of contemporary and eclectic pieces.
Born in Toronto, Chan’s Chinese family heritage and migration to Canada holds great fascination. Her Grandfather was one of the last groups of men who had head tax imposed on him due to the world wars and immigration policies. With both parents originally from Taishan in China, Chan’s mother met her Grandfather for the first time at the age of 22 and was not exposed directly to her families struggle. However, as time passed the designer grew increasingly curious about her heritage and the ever changing world issues- leaving a soft spot for immigrants deep within her soul.
With ideas marbling from her rich oriental heritage and travel, the skilled designer provides a dazzling insight into her inspirations and radiant world of cultural creativity. Encompassed with a hint of piquant from the far East, each design is masterfully crafted to host a unique sculptural feel, whilst embracing a timeless elegance through the intricate shape.
With a powerful admiration of both science and art, the opposing interests fuelled Chan’s desire to study History of Art and Architecture. Admiring industrial design and the works of Henry Moore, Paul Klee, Frank Lloyd Wright and Thonet, the skilled artist began collecting an assortment of abstruse home-wears and storing them in her mother’s basement;
“Once, I found set of mid-century bentwood chairs when I was about 20 at a flea market and left them with my Mom. Soon after, I begin to travel and when I returned a year later she had sold them at a garage sale. I’m still looking for them.”
Storing an array of specialised items, the designer claims she is a “select hoarder”. Preserving scraps of paper or material that may be up to 15 years old, safeguarding them mentally and physically until a creative epiphany prevails, and she then makes the piece physical.
Ona Chan | Lattice Cocktail Ring – Malachite | Large Dagger Collar
Captivated by the fine intricacy embedded within jewellery and furniture design, Chan strives to deconstruct objects in order to simplify them down to their basic form, believing “there is grace and sophistication in simplicity”. With reference to her alluring “Mantra” collection, the skilled artist sought inspiration from an ornate ceremonial dagger, later removing all the carvings, the designer saw the piece as a simple line and transformed it into the uber-stylish Dagger Collar.
Using her scientific flair, the creative designer likes to test different materials for different reasons. Initially adopting silver, Ona now opts for Rhodium and an assortment of different semi-precious stones and natural stones. Led by her curiosity and willingness to experiment, Chan hopes one day to expand her chosen materials to involve enamel and wood in the future.
Through the manipulation process of handmade, the Chinese Canadian designer believes artisan is a unique method for creatives to expresses their viewpoints. Commenting on her sculptural production process, Chan elaborates on the importance of artisan within her designs;
“My expression comes in the form of jewellery. For me it’s come from combining sculpting and function. I have a strong instinctive feeling to create and it’s gratifying to know that my work has beauty. I want to make jewellery that people look at and they see beauty.”
Transforming the ornate into its simplest form and re-visualising it into a beautiful functional piece, Ona Chan revolutionises the meaning of deconstruction. When questioned how she wants the wearer of her designs to feel, the talented designer emphatically states;
“I want them to feel beauty.”
With special thanks to Ona Chan, for her insightful words and artistic inspirations.