The Artistic Genius of Siu: A Soulful Tapestry of Colour & Thought

Chinese jewellery designer A.WIN SIU’s emotionally charged, kaleidoscopic depictions of the world underscore the transformative power of colour. Bold and contrasting deep hues add depth and dimension to her jewels and create an explosive visual experience to convey her profound connection to the beauty of the natural world.  An introspective artist, Siu delves into existentialism and is an ardent admirer of the cosmic spectacle.

A professional illustrator to begin with, Siu combines the best of both the art forms in her fascinating creations that radiate a sense of optimism and reflect her profound philosophy on life.

You were born Xiao Xintong, what made you change your name to Siu? Could you share the story behind the significance of your new name?
This is a very interesting question, and one that everyone is curious about. In fact, Awin Siu is the pronunciation of my first name in Chinese, and it is also the English name I have always used.

I changed my Chinese name to Xiao Xintong, which is actually more in line with my expectations for the world. My English name is Awin Siu (“Siu” is the Cantonese pronunciation of my family name, which is similar to the pronunciation of “Seal”   …  and my brand name is Siu.

In China, the family name comes before the first name. So, “Xiao”(Siu)is my family name, “Xin Tong” is my first name, “Xin” means “Faith”, and “Tong” means “World Great Harmony”. Siu

How and why did you join the world of jewellery designing? Tell us more about yourself and who were your role models as a child.

I used to be an illustrator, using paper as my canvas. Now, I design jewellery … what has changed are the materials and the creative process. Minerals and metals are the new mediums of my artistic expression, and creating jewels has endowed my creations with longevity.

I have been educated in China, and my major is closely related to visual arts. I found later that experiential knowledge offers a special advantage when it comes to creative process.

My role model as a child was Leonardo da Vinci, and in later years, it was Nikola Tesla. It was not just because of their academic achievements, but also because of their rich life experiences. I firmly believe that life is an ongoing journey of exploration and discovery, of embracing new experiences over fixating solely on outcomes.

Did being an illustrator help you in creating your jewellery lines?
I think my previous career has given me a lot of extra benefit. My heightened sensitivity to the interplay of lines and colours is a direct result of my past experiences. I often reflect on how my prior career path has guided me to my current position.

When and how was the brand born?
My brand was conceptualised in November 2017, when I drew the first jewellery designs. However, the first finished jewellery was created in February 2019!

The jewels above are from the series ‘Cloud Iridescence in Mogao Caves’. The rings, brooch, and earrings have been crafted using cat’s eye, crystal, diamonds, sapphires, tanzanite, tourmaline, tsavorites and titanium. The Mogao Caves, also known as the “Thousand Buddha Grottoes” form a system of 500 temples, and the site is symbolic of life and death.

What motivated you to start your brand, and how has it evolved over the years?
In August 2016, I held my first personal illustration exhibition. I thought I had completed one of my major goals. That prompted me to try new things, with a career change as a major objective.

As I said before, “Life lies in experience.” I wanted to explore different things and live different lives, which inspired my journey into jewellery design, thus giving birth to this brand. Because I have always collected antique jewellery, the birth of this brand was it was a natural progression.

The Melted Candy rings are adorned with Paraiba, yellow diamonds, and emeralds.

Tell us more about the philosophy of your brand … and why does colour play such an important role in your jewels?

I think good work should evoke resonance. Artists can employ vision, perception, and ingenuity to trigger thoughts in others or awaken and nurture inner peace and love.

I am more sensitive to colour, and you can see that there are many high-saturated combinations in my works, because I hope everyone can feel happiness directly. I think different colour combinations can awaken people’s subconscious emotions.

Some of the pieces are inspired by drawings and dreams I had as a child. At that time, although my painting skills were not refined, I could only express my fantasies and feelings about the world through this medium. I think this kind of creation is very pure.

Regarding touch, I sometimes choose materials with natural textures, or materials that are not so cold to the touch, such as amber.

When designing for the sense of smell, I often use scented wood …

I think memorable moments or beautiful things stay rooted in our subconscious … Maybe it was the first time I went to an amusement park, the first time I ate ice cream, the first time I ate candy, the first time I had my own fairy tale book, etc. Maybe when I need the most strength, awakening beautiful memories is also one of my creative skills.

The black titanium and diamond brooch is set with an amethyst square.

We learnt that you were interested in diverse subjects like astronomy, philosophy, history, psychology and travelling. Tell us more…

I’m glad you asked this question; I’d love to share my hobbies as this is what has helped me shape as a jewellery designer.

During my elementary school, I lived in a boarding school, and spent a lot of time alone. At age 10, I got a book “The Unsolved Mysteries of Humanity”, which changed my perspective on life. I found many articles in it that triggered my curiosity … features about ancient civilizations, extraterrestrial civilizations, magic, alchemy, black holes, wormholes, cosmic dimensions, etc.

Thereafter, I often had existential questions: ‘Who am I? Where do I come from? Why do I need to study? Is the knowledge a teacher imparts, correct? Why doesn’t the teacher teach us magic? Are the stars I am looking at staring back at me? What is outside the Universe? What is behind the black hole? Why is the Universe expanding?’ and so on.

Coincidentally, my boarding school bed was placed next to the window, allowing me to spend a lot of time to gaze at the night sky. I guess this ignited my interest in the universe and philosophy. The star I observed most often was Sirius, because in winter, it always appeared by my window.

When I was a kid, there were three careers I was keen on taking up: archaeology, science, or astronomy. Although the book “Unsolved Mysteries of Humanity” did not lead me to any of the three careers, it helped me deep dive into these subjects. Now, I express my inner universe through jewellery.

Two of my favourite philosophers are Lao Tzu and Aristotle. I often remember Aristotle’s famous words: “Whoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” At that time, I realised that though I could not become a god, it’s okay to embrace the inner beast. Since then, I choose to keep a distance or stay detached from the world, shielding my emotions from external disruptions, in order to have a clearer understanding of my nature.

Earrings depicting the cloud-to-rain transformation.

What are the three things that often recur in your themes?

In fact, I don’t have a fixed pattern when creating, but I have certain rules that I follow. When I draw concept drawings, I feel like there is “a ruler in my brain” (just like us in the universe, the proportions, and laws common to everything, some people call it “sacred geometry” or “golden ratio”). I instinctively know how to place stones and metals in certain positions to create visual effects and convey emotions.

After completing the drawings, I choose the metal carefully. In addition to titanium, I also use aluminium and 18-karat gold. These three metals have different characteristics in terms of hardness, density…

The main tourmaline stone, with its various shades, emits a singular radiance when set against the ombre titanium background. The presence of fancy-coloured sapphires creates a mesmerising visual effect, symbolising the interconnected bond between humanity and the natural world.

What inspires you?
My inspiration often comes from moments … it could be a taste, a colour, a feeling, or an emotion (all are relatively abstract perceptions).

Initially, I jot these feelings in a small notebook as “happy and touching things” or “things that need to be thought about”.

Next, I use the small fragments of the recorded things to draw an illustration, and then refine it in the drawing.

I often make a hand-drawn sketch of jewellery, and then mentally construct a 3D picture, followed by sculpting a model using modelling clay. Later, I scan the model into a computer to turn it into a 3D image, which allows me to modify the finer details.

After that comes the follow-up process of selecting metals, gemstones, processes, etc. Generally, it takes about half a year to a year to create a new series of work. This is also why I started drawing in Nov 2017, and the first work was not produced until Feb 2019.

The ruby and diamond ring.

What is it that makes you stand apart and tall from other brands?
I feel lucky that every time I participate in exhibitions, I get noticed by many people, which also makes me more determined to create works in my own style.

I think the viewers feel the emotions conveyed by me. Clients who like my work see the shadow of their childhood in me, or because I remind them of the good times in the past.

What’s a day in the life of Siu?
On a regular day, I am woken up by my kitten every morning, and after making myself a cup of coffee, I start answering emails, and get to work. In the afternoon, I visit a bookstore in the city centre to read new magazines and books that interest me (a book I have recently read repeatedly is “Conversations with God”). When I get home at night, I listen to vinyl records, cook my favourite food, and then fall asleep with my favourite aroma. A very ordinary day, indeed!

What are your hobbies?
I love travelling to different places because each journey offers unique experiences. Even if you go to the same destination, it feels new because you encounter different people and savour diverse cuisines.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I hope my brand can be appreciated by more people. I also hope that my works will eventually be viewed as heirlooms and will be eager to collect in a hundred years. Every question you asked in the interview made me think more deeply, and I hope to have the opportunity to share more with your readers in the future.

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