The timing could not have been more perfect.
Thank goodness for technology sometimes. Keeping in touch has never been easier, and you catch moments happening halfway around the world at the same time that makes you wonder about the mysteriousness of time, serendipity, fate and all sorts of otherworldly stuff.
The timing could not have been more perfect.
It seemed as if the stars were aligned, as around the same time that I was joining the team at John Hardy, the executives of the company had finalised their decision to rebrand Angela by JH to a new name, with a new concept, and marketing strategy.
One of the very first collections was very much inspired by my trip to Bali, and the detail and intricacy of the handcrafted artisanal work found there.
Our first launch of this new brand went online on the QVC website this month, around the same time I received my business cards, officially cementing my position as a jewellery designer for John Hardy... cheers to that!
It's looking to be an eventful year for everyone in the Kee family - of relocating to Bangkok, possibly [but highly unlikely at this rate] births, inevitable deaths, graduating with PhD's, getting promoted, having weddings... and to top it all off, startup bakery ventures!
PieKee & Co. is the result of all of the above. All artwork related to the brand identity of PieKee & Co. can be seen here, and for the full story, please go to their facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PieKeeCo to support this small but quirky Kee family business that is sure bring a smile to everyone's faces.
Props to Kee for finally listening to your own advice, and Pie for sticking with it through thick and thin, hurricanes, cake explosions and all. You guys are the cutest, craziest, quirkiest, most lovable couple ever, and we're all excited to celebrate with you in August!
Prior to me starting work in Bangkok, I went on a 4-day trip to Bali to visit the compound of John Hardy to better understand the company's dream, their values, and their mission as handcrafted luxury.
Founded by John Hardy, a Canadian designer & artist, in 1975, the company applies new design concepts to Balinese artisanal techniques inspired by nature and ancient East Asian art styles and themes, creating luxurious pieces that are not only intricately made, but detailed in the story that goes behind each item.
The compound in Bali is not only the design centre, it also serves as a living and gathering space with an organic farm and low impact buildings. One of the company's biggest focus is to be environmentally and socially conscious of its carbon footprint - the ultimate goal being to become carbon neutral.
As I explored Bali, I did not realise how much it had to offer in terms of culture, heritage and tradition, and returned back to Bangkok truly inspired, ready to begin applying all that I saw into jewellery!
Being a jetsetter oftentimes means I can't get too comfortable for too long, and this was no different. While I was getting settled into the wonderfully easy-going atmosphere of Seattle, another opportunity arose that would allow me to pursue my passion in jewellery design.
John Hardy, a renowned international luxury jewellery design company was looking to hire a designer for the newly launched Angela line that was sold exclusively on QVC. Based in Bangkok, this would give me the chance to really stretch my creative freedom, something that appealed very much to me. Being a newly launched line also meant that it had a lot of potential, perfect to challenge and push my skills and gain experience.
I took a day to fly to NY to meet with the Design Director of John Hardy, while he was stateside for publicity appearances in September 2012. After the interview, I was assigned a mini-project, to design a collection inspired by the lotus bud, a concept that is the core of the Angela line.
Once back in Seattle, coffee shops became my second home as a I churned out sketch after sketch with nothing but pencil and paper, an old-fashioned design technique in today's world of digitised technology that he strongly encouraged still. Submitting my assignment by the end of month, my efforts paid off and I was offered the position, to begin at the start of the new year 2013.
The sketches from the assignment can be seen in the Siam collection here. It was a pleasant but bittersweet moment when I decided to accept this offer; I was excited at the prospect of moving to Bangkok, a city I had never been in before, but I was starting to grow very fond of Seattle, and the people who were to become my very close friends, that I knew it would hurt to leave.
But you only live once, right?
My last day at Taphandles was a bittersweet moment. I was excited about my move to Bangkok, but sad to be leaving behind one awesome design team, whom I had grown to regard as my close friends during my short time in Seattle. And despite my leaving, some things would never change - the crew's way of saying goodbye was nothing short of awkwardly spectacular. I was sent off with the customary "awkward slowclap" that was notoriously given to a lucky [or should I say, unlucky] individual, usually meant for birthdays, but now just more for special occasions.
Thank you for everything. Here's to you guys - keep rocking and rolling in the brewery scene as I know you will always do!
JER was an ongoing underground project that had been underway for over a year. I was to secretly design an engagement ring for my sister's fiance. However despite the facilities available to me while I was at SCAD, I was too caught up in studio, senior and projects to find the time to make her ring.
A perfect window of opportunity arose when I visited my sister in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a week. I collaborated with local custom jewellery store, Urban Jewelers, to make the ring that I had designed for her. I had already moved to Seattle and begun my new job when the ring was complete, but my sister's fiance picked up where I left off and made the plans for the special day - proposing to her on her birthday dinner at her favourite restaurant.
The design for the ring was inspired by my recent Raya collection. Compliments to Mark Urban, for being a fantastic goldsmith in being able to carry out my design and congratulations to the officially engaged couple :)
Post-graduation was a time of both relaxation and frustration as my job-hunt began, and I went through the application process of interviews and mini-projects.
But persistence paid off, and I received a job offer from Taphandles, a Seattle-based company that develops and designs brands, merchandise and yes, taphandles, for breweries worldwide. Without hesitation, I jumped on the first flight out from the east coast, to the west, and started work the very next day.
Moving out to Seattle has been a wonderful transition. The people from work are fun, easy-going and we get along well. The projects are fast-paced and keep me on my toes, which guarantees I'm never bored. The weather has been beautiful of late, although I've constantly been told it won't last long.
And so begins a new chapter in my life! An added bonus being that I've started climbing again... blistered hands have never felt so good :)
Five years ago, I jumped on a plane to come to SCAD, scared and excited at the same time. And now? I have a double BFA in Industrial Design and Metals & Jewelry. But I am still scared and excited. For as I close the door on my university education, another opens - entering the life of the working world.
Being awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award for Industrial Design was a pleasant surprise. Coupled with having 3 tassels the colors of Mardi-Gras (which I still insist the purple one was a mistake), I still can't believe it... I'm DONE.
For now, at least.
As my university career draws to a close, the mad rush to get everything done snowballed into a week of not sleeping. Not only was it finals for the quarter, it was finals forever (not to sound dramatic, of course). And this meant preparing for our annual School of Design Exhibition, showcasing the work from all graduating students in the Industrial Design Program for all families and friends to attend.
Held at our very own Gulfstream Center of Design for the first time, we wanted to go out with a bang. So alongside 6ft posters of our work, there was live music from our very own SCAD students, hor d'oeuvres, and an iPad-equipped "photo-booth" mock-up for those candid shots.
As sleep-deprived as we were, it was worth it. A song was dedicated to the professors of the department (who stayed up alongside us to help organize the show) for being the reason for our success. Your Jean Kee has finally grown up!