Which made-in-Singapore brand has fans like Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama?
Lin Ruiyin and Afzal Imram, founders of fine jewellery brand State Property, want to showcase local craftsmanship with their contemporary designs. And they’ve attracted the attention of stars like Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama and Nicole Kidman.
The business was founded by industrial designer Afzal Imram and jewellery designer Lin Ruiyin. Sweethearts since their university days, the married couple had met through common friends and discovered a shared passion for art and design.
“Since young, I’ve always been interested in art and design. As I grew up, I wanted to make sure that my little pieces of art were things that I could bring along with me wherever I went,” shared Lin, who graduated from the renowned arts and design college Central Saint Martins in London.
Imram said that given his background in product design and Lin’s in contemporary jewellery, starting bespoke jewellery service State Property was a natural progression.
Fresh out of school with no experience, the couple learnt on the job. Lin said, “We were not sure about the industry, so the fastest and the best way to start was to just take on clients and to see what the demands were for the industry.”
It wasn’t long before they started creating their own collections and their pieces caught the attention of and were worn by celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama and Nicole Kidman.
Initially, they wanted to work with overseas craftsmen, but were eventually won over by the experience and dedication of local artisans. Lin said, “I try to always think out of the box and as much as I can for the market, and not think about how it’s made. And then I come to [the artisan] and together we figure out if this can be made.”
The couple is often inspired by their travels to create collections that straddle the realms of art and science. They often listen to music and podcasts speaking about science and technology, out of which would come ideas for accessories such as those inspired by the life cycle of stars and the phonographs on spacecrafts.
“Our design philosophy is about finding balance, the balance between negative space and positive space, the old and the new. I guess it’s about finding tension as well,” Lin shared.
While there are stories attached to the collections, each piece is designed abstractly for the wearer to apply their own narrative, such as a pair of earrings that encages the ears while forming a V-shape that frames the wearer’s face.
Lin explained: “I try to create an empty vessel for the wearer to wear, they then try to put their story into it.”
The vibe is forward and contemporary; traditional materials such as pearls are given a modern spin to make them attractive for everyday wear. Another unique piece: A large ring encrusted with diamonds from the designers’ very first Substate collection, themed around discovering spaces on the human body where jewellery would traditionally sit.
Imram explained, “The special thing about this ring is that even though it’s a very big ring, we shaped it such that it’s not cumbersome to wear. It’s actually quite light, so you can wear it throughout the day and it won’t really hinder your movements.”
Such comfortable, long-lasting pieces that are an expression of their wearers is what the duo envisions for their brand. Imram said, “State Property is an intersection, I hope it is an intersection where art meets design and where design meets craftsmanship.”