The second we laid our eyes on Yuun's collection we knew we wanted to do something with this beautiful jewelry line from Canada. The simple lines yet such intricate designs reminded us of a better time when minimal and playful would go hand by hand and when surprise was still such an important element of design.
After exchanging a few emails with Lina we immediately felt there was a magical connection between the way she saw the world and the way we see it and the simply magic sparkled.
Now a few months after we are so lucky to be hosting her incredible pieces at both our San Francisco & Los Angeles stores with a Holiday pop up, and more than that we are lucky that she will be coming for the opening at both locations. But first we wanted you guys to get to know her a little bit better and to get a sense of what we saw when we met her.
Marta: Hi Lina! For the millionth time, we are so excited to have you at the shops! We are huge fans of your work! Let's start from the beginning, how did this all happen, how did Yuun come to life?
Lina Hu: Kind of on a whim! I quit my Master’s degree in health science in 2014, and decided to take a metalsmithing course out of curiosity, and there, I completely fell in love the moment I held my first ring! I set up a little work bench in the living room corner of an apartment I shared with three roommates and developed my first collection over fall and winter of that year. I couldn’t stop playing with metal, it was such a thrill to be able to finally translate all the visual motifs and concepts I obsess about into something with my hands! From that point on, the line just had a life of its own!
This year, the line was reborn as YUUN (we were previously called Arc Jewellery). There was a natural discontinuity between the current collection and the previous ones -- put simply, sometimes you just wake up a new woman and you want that identity to speak for itself! At the same time, this new phase is also a callback to my roots -- YUUN is an almost anagram of my mum’s name, and she used to be a jeweller as well, an influence I haven’t properly acknowledged until now. The line has come a long way since that little work bench in the living room corner -- YUUN is now based in a beautiful studio collective in the Decade Building here in Montreal, along with the talented designers the Stowe, Eliza Faulkner, YYY and Odeyalo. And I get to travel and share my work in all sorts of wonderful places!
M: I am just always so amazed by how life takes us places we never imagined we would go but that at the same time they feel instantly like we were born to be exactly where life puts us, how organically it all started definitely shows not only in your brand now but in the evolution of it and why it is the way it is now.
I am a huge supporter of changes and evolution, life would not be fun at all without us having revelations and big changes along the way. I love that it came to you in a whim but deep down did you ever had a thought of this being something you would want to explore or do for a living?
L: Not at all! I studied and worked in the health sciences through most of my early twenties and it seemed like the logical thing to do. However, I think I knew that there was a very definite part of me that wasn’t being expressed, and when I finally gave myself the opportunity to explore it, everything just fell into place!
M: Yay for exploring ourselves and for giving us freedom to try knew things! When designing a new collection or a new piece do you follow a particular inspiration or you just sit on your work bench and see where it takes you? What are the first steps when working on a new piece?
L: Most of the time, I actually start with an abstract concept, which could come anywhere from art, architecture, film, philosophy, literature, music or science. This could lead to a structural translation of the idea or sometimes it just informs the feel of the collection. For example, the current collection, Harmonics, explores harmony through the lens of physics, astronomy, mathematics and music. We see physics and astronomy in the silver forms and the stones, and mathematics and music in the permutation in the collection -- the Harmonics earrings are designed to be mix-and-matched where parts can be added or removed, worn in reverse and combined with other earrings to form combinations that really evoke the wearer’s own personality and style.
At other times, I am inspired by a material and the concept comes after. For the upcoming SS19 collection, Surfacing, I fell in love with the baroque pearl and the beauty and intimacy in its irregularity. Looking at how pearls are formed led to reflection on transience and the japanese idea of mono no aware -- this pathos is the feel of the collection. (My other love is poetry and I think I keep trying subconsciously to inject it into my visual language!) I don’t think I’m capable of putting out a collection that doesn’t communicate something cohesively as a whole. It’s not interesting for me to make pieces that are simply pretty on their own if they do not come together to explore a greater concept. Orson Welles is quoted to have said “the enemy of art is the absence of limitations”, and this is definitely my approach to design; I need the constriction of a broader idea to navigate deeper creatively.
M: You have no idea the amount of conversations we have had here at the shops about exactly that concept of the wearer being the one that gives meaning to the piece, weather it is jewelry, clothes or anything else... that is the beauty of it and the really beautiful part of our job. I love the way you describe your design process and how you need that deeper meaning when creating. I believe that is a big part of Yuun's magic but could you describe in a few words what the fundaments, the core of Yuun is? And also what keeps you motivated to continue creating and designing?
L: YUUN is about quiet confidence, thoughtful restraint and expression through simplicity. Every piece is intentionally designed and made to last and is a means for the wearer to evoke her own sensibility. I really love what I do. Creation is an impulse; I can’t help but take in forms and elements, feelings and ideas, and deconstruct and rearrange them in my mind -- and it all has to come out on the other side! My work is an intuitive expression of the things that inspire me and the continued exploration of this really propels itself. Also, knowing that the people I love really believe in YUUN keeps me going, especially my mum -- she had to quit jewellery to help my dad start their restaurant when I was young, and I know it is really special to her that I’ve chosen finally to do something she loves as well.
M: You just gave me goosebumps, intuition is what we live for here at Voyager, that rush, that gasp, that warmth we feel when we see something that inspires us is the fuel that keeps us going. We felt that with your pieces times a thousand but we are always curious about how you got to know us and why did you chose Voyager for a pop up and us for hosting and carrying your beautiful line?
L: I’ve admired Voyager for so long now! The curation is incredibly thoughtful and there is such a natural ease about everything in the shops. Being from the west coast originally, I really relate to such a natural sensibility and gentle appreciation of beautiful things, and I think we have a lot of common inspiration! I love how Voyager really supports the work of independent woman designers, and I am so so thrilled to be invited to be part of such an amazing community!
M: You are so sweet, we are the incredibly lucky ones that get to do this for a living. Living sourrounded by all of you inspiring amazing women is everything we ever dreamed, and now being able to raise our sons within our community is just really everything. Ok, one last questions and I will let you go. What is the future for Yuun, what do you have in the horizon and where would you love for it to be?
B: It is really important to me for YUUN to have relationships with shops that share my sensibility and ethos, and in ten years, I see myself continuing to work only with people who understand what I do. If this means we will be in fifty curated boutiques that really represent what YUUN is instead of a hundred department stores, that will be more than alright. As well, I hope to expand into a line of home goods down the road, and to continue to collaborate on interesting projects with artists and designers in different realms. YUUN is more than just a business for me, and I want it to be more than just a brand -- I want YUUN to evoke feeling and inspire contemplation about who we are and what we surround ourselves with.
Thank you so much Lina for wanting to sit down and chat with us a little bit, and thank you for your beautiful work and ethos, it is so inspiring to meet somebody that puts so much thought and love into what they do.
Remember this Friday November 23<sup>rd</sup> Lina will be at the San Francisco Shop for the opening of her Holiday Pop Up with us! 5Pm to 8pm, do not miss it!!
All pictures courtesy of Yuun Studio