Architect & Designer
Architect and designer Melvyn Kanny is well established as an architect practicing in Malaysia having won numerous awards for his designs particularly sustainable tropical style, cutting edge houses that have made headlines in the local press and publications.
But what made him dabble in jewellery, a particularly and a vastly different field?
“It all started when I bought my wife a piece of blue topaz gemstone from Cambodia some years back. It took me by surprise when she asked me if I could design her a piece of ring to set the stone in rather than getting it custom-made at the local jeweller. My first reaction to her request was this, “...you better leave it to the professionals, I know nothing about jewellery!” Still she persisted “well if you don’t try you won’t know will you?” Not wanting to let a challenge go unaccepted, I started working on the designs and despite my efforts I hated the results. Something didn’t seem right. I decided to then to take a more serious approach and signed up for an online jewellery design courses and also started reading up extensively on the subject. Through my research I discovered that gem or precious stones are unsustainably mined predominantly in third world countries where child labour is often exploited without any government intervention or regulation. That was when I decided to discard the stone and work purely using metal like gold or silver as the medium and soon enough the design ideas started flooding in.
One thing led to another and I found myself getting more immersed and put all my creativity and artistic skills as an architect to produce the designs whilst learning more about the intricacies of jewellery making. I usually start from a simple idea based geometrical forms expressing man-made structures rather than meaningless decorative frills as found in most jewellery. My discipline as an architect helped to remove the desire to add too many design elements which often leads to a cluttered jewellery piece. It is a fine balance between minimalism and over exuberance so that each piece has just enough to stand on its own and have something to say about the wearer. Inventiveness and artistic expressions are emphasised rather than glitter and glamour.
The jewellery pieces are devoid of any precious stones, and we have decided to stick with the simplicity and elegance of gold and silver itself.
My wife (Jeya) and I then decided to make jewellery that our friends would like, particularly mature professional women with discerning taste who may need to create an impression at meetings or events. These exquisite jewellery pieces are designed to be worn on occasions, not for everyday use.
Trying to find a local manufacturer who could produce the pieces was a nightmare! Most of them turned us down saying the pieces could not be made whether by hand or machine. Obviously they had never seen anything quite like the ones designed! I realised that the local jewellery industry was still quite backward. Most pieces sold were mass produced in factories from China and assembled together to form the jewellery. Other ways of making were the traditional style of creating a silicone or rubber mould after which the pieces could be mass produced. That way didn’t work for the jewellery I designed either as the mould could only be used once and not repeatedly due to the unconventional design forms of the jewellery. Finally we found a manufacturer who is using 3D printing technology and was willing to help. Through much trial and error the prototypes begin to emerge. I had to simplify the designs to make them producible and for the factory to agree to make them without too much headache of trial and error. I guess we found a workable balance. We have only produced about 20% of the designs, the rest are still being slowly developed and we hope to bring in new pieces on a regular basis.
Whilst I produce the designs and develop the prototypes Jeya helps with the marketing, accounts and business development side of things. She is more qualified than I am as her law degree and MBA gives her the edge.
My background as a Rotarian also meant that we give back whatever we earn to those in need, which is why we have also decided to make this a social enterprise. 30% of our profits will be channelled back to charitable organisations carrying out Women Empowerment programmes both here in Malaysia and abroad.
It is our hope that our jewellery can be worn with pride without trying to shout that you have arrived. It represents your beliefs and sophistication and what you stand for. Simplicity is the ultimate elegance….”it’s not all about the carat!” .....and that’s how the tag line came about.