Where Are They Now? : Anabela Chan
Art & Design
When it comes to design, Studio William ranges are inspired by the natural and manmade wonders of the world. Trees and wildlife feature significantly. As do travel and, naturally, food, which all come into play when we’re thinking about how best to manipulate an 18/10 sheet of steel to form something quite special.
Our sell-out Leaf design (a standout piece from our Creative Dining range) however, was a collaboration of inspiration and the brainchild of acclaimed jewellery designer, Anabela Chan. It wasn’t by chance that she became part of the Studio William troop – it was through hard work, and a winning entry to our Sweet Instruments of Desire competition we ran with John Lewis, back in 2012.
Described by the Tabletop Journal as "an aphrodisiac for the appetite", this utterly unique and exquisitely designed alternative to traditional cutlery forms takes dining to new heights. It's an ingenious design - overseen by William Welch, Industrial designer, Silversmith and Founder of Studio William in Stratford upon Avon.
A single Leaf can be used to cut, scoop, prong or present, making it not only visually stimulating but incredibly diverse.
The innovative and tactile result of an architect-trained, fine jewellery designer’s mind invites the user to enjoy the Leaf in countless ways and for any course.
So, apart from being a student competition winner, who is Anabela Chan? And, almost eight years on, where is she now?
Chan was born into a family of film directors and cinematographers (four generations of them, to be precise). Growing up, she was surrounded by beautiful imagery and the people who know how to piece things together to get the very best outcome. But aside from the visuals, Anabela found the film industry a trigger for her creative interests in another way – storytelling. She loves the idea of being able to fall into a completely different world – a world of magic, and mystery and utmost beauty. Telling of this, Alice in Wonderland is one of her favourite ever tales, and you can see this inspiration woven throughout many of her magical designs. Our Leaf included.
But making an incredible dining instrument is not all about imagination. It’s also about precision, keen attention to detail, and an understanding of how things work. Anabela is set apart from her Jewellery designer peers not only in her sensational array of creations but also for her education in architecture and experience in print design (for Alexander McQueen no less!), which she feels is an underlying and essential component of her production.
A celebration of Mother Nature.
At her flagship store in London's Piccadilly, nature's themes continue in the form of lifesize exotic birds, feather-decked jewellery, and gem-encrusted birds, bees and summer blooms in gleaming golden cases.
Like us, Anabela is deeply concerned about the environment and the impact that manufacturing and consumerism have on the planet. She's actively involved with encouraging and implementing positive change. ‘Vogue’ describes her as being at the forefront of the sustainable fine jewellery industry for her unusual championing of lab-made gemstones in place of the natural, mined variety. These man-made stones have, until recently, been considered inferior in the jewellery trade, viewed as ‘pretend’. But Anabela refused to kowtow to fashionable views. Instead, she championed the idea that grown crystals not only have the potential to be infinitely purer (due to being formed in a meticulously controlled environment) but are also the only sustainable way forward with the future of our planet in mind.
And her thoughts are truly her own, as her switch in perspective came from her decision to be ‘on the ground’ before the launch of her brand five years ago, visiting the mines from where her gemstones were going to be bought from. What she saw was shocking, saddening and life-changing. Unsafe and unfair working environments, with absolutely nothing beautiful or romantic about it. In that moment of awareness, she vowed that all choices she made on behalf of her company would only ever be compassionate and responsible one – something we deeply admire.
In a recent interview with Vogue Hong Kong, Anabela said of her passion for sustainability: “You can’t tell people what to do, but you can inspire them with the beautiful nature we are blessed with today, and together we can strive to protect it.”. And we couldn’t agree more. Together, with our Leaf design and beyond, we hope to bring a little natural wonder to the dining table and increase awareness of the natural wonders we have a duty to take protect.