Subtle yet bold statements—this sounds very much like an oxymoron, until you get a glimpse of Singapore fine jewellery label State Property’s collection. With strong architectural silhouettes, bold proportions and graphic shapes, the local brand has been consistently making statement pieces since its inception in 2014.
Such is the brainchild of Afzal Imram and Lin Ruiyin, an industrial designer and Central Saint Martins trained jeweller respectively. Besides stocking fine jewellery based on poetic inspiration, they carry an extensive bridal range, such as engagement and wedding rings.
With a firm belief that jewellery carry precious moments in time, they also provide bespoke jewellery services, with past experiences that include cleaning and repairs, creation of heirloom pieces, and old designs re-imagined into new ones.
We speak to the founders of the label and their design process, inspirations, and what lies in store for the label.
Tell us a bit more about yourselves and what you do at State Property.
Ruiyin was trained as a contemporary jeweller at Central St Martins in London and designs most of the jewellery within State, while Afzal was trained as an industrial designer at the National University of Singapore, and is in charge of the branding aspect of the business—from designing the identity of the brand, displays of the jewellery, to the packaging and graphic design for collaterals.
At State Property, we create what is probably best described as fashion fine jewellery. We put out fashionable jewellery, handcrafted in materials like gold and precious gemstones that have been thoroughly designed. Our aesthetic leanings fall nicely in between the minimalist and maximalist movements, resulting in subtle yet adventurous silhouettes.
How did the both of you meet?
We met through common friends while in university, and being the only two designers in the group, we had a lot to talk about.
How do you think your different backgrounds in industrial design and jewellery design have helped to shape both your design process and business?
Jewellery design and industrial design are almost on the opposite ends of the design spectrum. One champions problem-solving and rationality within design, while the other is about expressing one’s self, and is very emotionally-driven.
This has allowed us to challenge each other’s perspective, affecting how we view a jewellery brand and the kind of brand we want to build. It’s not all about jewellery. We constantly look to create holistic experiences—from the concept & stories tied to each piece, to the design of each piece, and how the pieces are presented, be it in photographs, or graphic designs that are specific to each collection.
- What was your impetus for starting State Property?
We wanted to create a space where we could not only express ourselves and how we see the world, but through objects that people would want. With Ruiyin’s talent in designing jewellery and Afzal’s interest in branding, State Property was almost a natural progression.
Describe the person that wears State Property.
The State Property person is someone who is confident in their own self. Strong in character, always on the go, this person thrives the limelight, but also enjoys watching the room. The State Property person looks for quality in their life, not just quantity.
Where do you get your inspiration for each collection from? Share with us the inspiration behind the latest one, Unfold.
With this latest collection, it started from us coming across the life-cycle of stars. We found out that stars don’t only end in Supernovas, but also sometimes they shed their layers, and those layers then become a nursery for new stars to form.
This led us to use pearls that are formed by layers of nacre. The idea of layers and history being unraveled as the layers peel away lent itself to the design of the pieces where the pearls are placed sometimes half obscured by metal.
These pieces were then named after literary tools that authors use to tell stories.
- I know we’re not supposed to play favourites, but is there a favourite piece of jewellery across your different collections? Why?
The Holmes earrings. They are quintessentially State Property: Classic yet edgy, can be both casual and glamorous, and it makes for a subtle statement piece.
- Were there any difficulties when starting out your business, and how has that changed as your business has started to mature?
We jumped straight into the deep end, starting a business fresh out of school. And with this came the inexperience with the business aspect of design. This was, and still is our biggest challenge—be it pricing, strategy or managing our team. Because of this, we have to keep experimenting and making mistakes; or winging it when we haven’t the faintest clue what to do. But it keeps things exciting!
Of course, as we go along, we learn a lot from both good and bad experiences that we find ourselves in, and from the people we meet. The past couple of years have been the most intense education we’ve ever had.
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What do you think about the independent retail scene in Singapore, or the SEA region?
We are lucky to have started the label at the time that we did, because we feel like the people that came before us have fought the hard fight of getting the market here to be receptive to independent retailers. It’s an exciting time for independent brands in our region. Thailand and Indonesia’s independent retail scenes are extremely rich and diverse. Singapore and the other Southeast Asian countries are not far behind.
Lastly, what’s next for your label?
There’s a lot coming up this year. We are looking to reach out to overseas markets later this year, and there is a lot of prep work that we are currently in the midst of, to make sure we have a fighting chance in the international arena. There’ll be new designs for both our ready-to-wear jewellery collections as well as for our bridal jewellery range.
You can find State Property’s products on their website here.