About Teong Yan Ni

She loves collecting sea-shells, outgoing, love art and craft works since young. Even though, art was her favorite subject in school, this hasn't brought her to university. With a myth thinking in her mind that artist can't survive in her country, she decided to take on Marketing major and graduated in Chartered Institute of Marketing from university. After 15 years of working in the corporate, she decided to have her mid-life career changed. Her passion reunited, and she started as a hobby, as a pearl lovers and therefore she enrolled with few classes such as beading as a beginner step. She went on seriously in building her new career after her designs was supported by friends and family. She took on more in-depth study on pearl and jewelry design. During the courses, she found out that she recapped with her artist's hand and coped with the art coursework very well. She felt so blessed to reunited again with her hidden talent. She is a person who loves nature. She always has some imagination and curiosity when she felt so good about nature, until she wanted to express it into jewelry form. She can get inspire by outdoor environment and her ideas can spikes anytime. She likes to perform irregular shape because this is her. She doesn't like rules, routine work, easily get bored with same task and bounded with a lot of restriction in life. She set-up her own designer studio emphasizing on jewelry designer services and custom-jewelry which she would like as custom jewelry wouldn't have much duplication. She likes creating and testing new design, and as much as challenges coming along, she learn a lot along the way too. She is serving niche market and people whom appreciate her work. From her current role, she enjoyed much everyday and she doesn't feel it is like a job. She has so much energy to feel motivated to work everyday until she got overwhelmed next day. Well, next day is another good day. What inspired her? Oprah Winfrey, Cally Kwong, Wallace Chan, Jimmy Choo and Zang Toi. Her dream is to get recognize internationally someday.

Interview with Teong Yan Ni

Teong Yan Ni ("TYN") interviewed on Wednesday, 22 May.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

TYN : I graduated in Pearls and Jewelry Design in 2015 from Gemological Institute of America and Jewelry Manufacturing Art in 2016 locally. It is already been 3 years now and I do have some great clients that I worked with. She gave me full of trust of my professionalism, and to me that was the biggest support. True enough, when I delivered to her, I didn’t disappoint her. And the highest satisfaction is to see her left with happy smile and she then again referred her friend to me.

How did you become a designer?

TYN : Since young I love art and craft and I was rather good at it. At high school I have taken Art stream but when I entered into university I took up Marketing as my major having the thought of it will be more practical to get a stable salary upon graduated. After more than 10 years of working and earned salaried income, my life became more comfortable with stable job at the bank which was my last employer. However, I felt still something missing. I couldn’t hide my character in doing things with my best and love achieving true satisfaction and recognition of your work produced. During my spare time, I took up pearl beading class from a teacher whom never had the intention to receive me. She was one of the exhibitor in an exhibition promoting her pearls product. I eventually felt in love in pearl at first and I have this dream to become a jewelry designer. I always see myself can be more fulfilled other than working in a corporate world. So, I left my job and pursued further studies in this field. I am thankful to my initial teacher whom taught me pearl beading because she was the first whom leaded me to basic understanding of pearls and which also, she shown constant support.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

TYN : When I worked on new project or new design. I always started with inspiration it could be gotten some where any time and mostly on things I observed surroundings. I explored the inspiration by my imaginary and making multiple sketches on my sketch book or my mobile phone which with drawing function. I must first record it down below the idea blow away. I like to work with irregular system, or you may say irregular shapes. I also will like to try new idea by further my sketches to do even more creative way. I will put in technical aspect when designing the piece with my jewelry manufacturing background it supported my work heavily. I rely heavily on my hand drawing for initial part until multiple modification drawn. I again translate it into technical drawing and rendering. During the process, numerous research and consideration as in research the nature of the object I inspired from, color tones representation, meaning of the design, shall I include gemstone or not, practicality, material use and so forth. Most of the time as I personally love gemstone, I will try to incorporate in. Before I finalize on technical drawing, I will try to understand the perspective by using measurement tool, clay, paper to guide me further understanding the creation. Depending on the design, mock-up is necessary by putting the drawing into computer aided design and from there wax model is produced. Sometimes, even the model is produced, it doesn’t necessary mean finalized and may need some changes and the process repeat.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

TYN : When designing at initial stage, I normally feel highly curious and always eager to complete the project. The journey normally is the most challenging part as you need to put all the possible aspects in your creation to make it real. At times, I will be stuck in the middle of process, and I will take a pause by taking a good shower, doing some gardening, meeting friends or just simply go to bed early. Things strike and I may get some other idea upon doing these relaxing activities. The most exciting part is product final realization. After dealing with expert team numerous rounds of discussion, I must patiently wait for the final. Once the design turned up to real, that is the most pleasure moment and I immediately feel like to I wanted to tell the whole world.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

TYN : There are other non-design skills shaped me as a designer. I would say mainly soft skills like character building and mental strengthening. I started to live separated from my parents since a child and pursued an independent living deciding path, I wanted to go on by myself. I learnt how to make decision and not all decision were right as along the path I made many mistakes. I strongly believed, that shaped my determination on the thing I wanted to do. Being a result driven person, I can be a little emotional sometimes and controlling emotion is also a skill thing and I lose patient when result is not met. During my employment journey, I picked up a lot of multi-tasking managing skills, prioritization and planning. And when pursued to entrepreneur role, that was a big leap of growth and skill such as relationship building, problem solving, decision making and so forth. Also, being an independent designer can be lonely therefore, self-motivation is also important. These are some of the contributor factors as part of this journey and eventually will lead to success.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

TYN : At my level of designing business currently, I wish I can get contract in designing for companies and continue to produce great design, setting trend and get appreciated. For a bigger plan, I would love to serve more people, incorporated my design more on people’s daily lives. I want to be Cally Kwong, a strong and daring person, a person with great interpersonal, full of inspiration, desire and achievements. I want to be remembered as that and my product is a tool to bring me there. I am currently working on a collection with Amethyst and Pearl. At the same time, I will also try to take up some time to continuously upgrade myself by taking some education and competing in a competition. There is also a project, a big necklace, deal with rubies and pearl have yet to realized. But my biggest dream project will be to design a cuff bracelet for Oprah Winfrey because she inspired me a lot. She is such a wonderful woman and the reason I chose cuff bracelet is representing her as a Wonder Woman.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

TYN : As a beginner in designing career, you will face lack of confident and always think your work not good enough. We must believe in ourselves, meanwhile fine tuning on your skills. Ask yourself repeatedly, why you choose this career, why you wanted to do this. So that when you were lost somewhere in future or when you about to give up, you go back and ask yourself why you started from the first place. When, I just started my journey, I never thought of the ugly side of it such as society culture, competition, perception and dealing with people. You face problems all alone an when too many of it, you may break down. Basically, if you start from ground zero, you have nothing to trade other than your young knowledge and skills. I have no connection, no experience, and my mind was filled with “do not know how”, how to start, where to start, whom to find and hundreds of questions you had until you can’t sleep at night. Over time, I learnt to resolve problems and figure out the way I wanted to pave. Best advice I received was to participate in competition and expand your horizon for example go for workshop, conference, exhibition, show and trips that beneficial your field. I strongly believed networking can helps you along the way especially entering entrepreneur journey.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

TYN : Some tips we could take home are do not assume everything can be done yourself. Eventhough, you may not have your own team, talk to people. Be open. Because being a designer, sometimes we have this attitude is to confine yourself until you figure out a way. Is not always work, if it doesn’t work you have to open up. When it comes to designing skills, dare to try new ideas. Instil in your mind that anything is possible. You may start with a simple project to get confidence, once you kick started it is easier to move forward. Do not give in too much to limitation, instead think of the possibility rather than taking short cut to just simply give in. Always rationalize yourself on the decision. Because working as a designer, sky is the limit, imagination is unlimited, if we simply give in to limitation that can make a great design, that is rather a pity, you will lose out your own design principle and at the end of the day you may not get the happiness you desire. You may think, this field not suits you and you may consider venture into new thing.

What is your day to day look like?

TYN : After breakfast, 10am go to studio, check emails and news, start sketching or continue previous drawing until end of the day if no appointment. Home at 7pm dinner and rest. However, at peak time, home at 10pm or 12am. It will be subjective if I have appointment and it is much more exciting to meet people rather than staying indoor all the time. At times, day can be boring, not much progress or so, best I like to do is gardening or have a nice cup of tea which browsing media.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

TYN : I am more likely stick to own personal style, nature inspired oriented. I do not always make product hip on the season, but I like it to be more creative and versatile. I love creating a collection series because beneath is has a story and the extension of it. Sometimes I design something more elaborate but also have a series with the same inspiration but a simpler piece.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

TYN : The way I evaluate good design is there is no right or wrong in design. Is all about design elements. Whether the elements you incorporate create a pleasant and harmonious feeling. That will be the very first criteria. Secondly, the practicality. Sometimes, design may be good at paper and we must always ensure the final product is good to use or wear. A lot of the time, we have to test it out and improve from there. Investing in the improvise version is unavoidable.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

TYN : Normally, I will compare with my drawing if 95% met I will go ahead. Slight variation happens and depends on which part. As mostly my pieces are hand fabricated, we have to give in to workmanship as long as it doesn’t alter my design drawing or concept. However, I always bear in mind, I can do better next time. I will know it becomes success when it met my expectation and follow by feedback from people. The best way is, if you are so proud of your work, send for 3rd party evaluation such as competition, with this you can gauge where you are or how far you can be.

What is your biggest design work?

TYN : My greatest design will be Blue Daisy so far. The concept, flexibility, interchangeable and femininity are the things I am proud of. I have spent significant time about 6 – 9 months from very initial idea. It was all started to design just the ring. I thought that will be my stretch. But after I realized the ring piece, I had another idea, I have more confident to design the whole collection. Because the outcome was over delighted, I want it to be in several pieces. I designed this work because I found blue daisy at florist shop very attractive and unusual. The most challenging was the technical part of the connector and hook whereby it has to be practical, and the unnoticeable. Couple of trial and errors made and communication to manufacturer also has taken up some time. I paid a lot of attention on every details to ensure it looks as perfect as possible.

Who is your favourite designer?

TYN : I admires Wallace Chan for his intricate, delicate and precision of jewelry pieces. He doesn’t count quantity that he produces but quality. And his work is making significance to the industry. If I were given a chance to talk to a designer that not alive anymore, I shall choose Salvatore Ferragamo. He created legend from his own bare hand looking at he came from poor family. And back then during his era, he faced big challenges on war and politics too. Although he faced bankruptcy at one point of time, but he revived and grew bigger and more popular. His name still leaves and it is so inspiring to hear his success stories one day.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

TYN : My inspiring city will be my hometown Ipoh. The place I hold a lot of sentimental values started with some unhappy memories then turned it into motivation. Because I love nature, my hometown has clean spring water, caves, limestone, cleaner air and other heritage. Culture affect my design if I plan to sell the design. However, as I design base on more of our personal style, I do not include much of culture factor. Good design is necessary for advancement of society, it creates beautiful life, cultures like things to talk about, admiration and motivation. Small positive incremental value that I earned will be when I wear my own design. People notices and talk about it. And from there, they kind of gauge I am someone with unique taste and curious in confirming by asking my profession.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

TYN : If I were to find someone to work with me, I prefer someone sincere and share the same mission. I think it is not easy to work with individual unique people, but if we have the same belief and understanding, it clicks well. A 3D computer designer will be my ideal partner. To me a good designer is someone not easily give up, constant challenge yourself, try new things and learn from mistakes. Being in my profession as a jewelry designer, you can get high satisfaction and fulfilment, but it might take a long time to get there. Therefore, need a lot of patient and perseverance. Also, if you are looking at short term monetary reward, it may not turn up the way you expected. In this journey to get there, I believed numerous challenge we have to encounter but always remind yourself we have to be ready. When opportunity comes, we can embark to next bigger milestone.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

TYN : I am volunteering in my alumni activities for 3 years now, yearly I participate and involve in workshop, conference which we think it is contributing to the society. I will also consider pro bono work depends on the collaboration. I would say involving in humanitarian project will expand our scope, gain experience, help our profile and gain good publicity. It will be my pleasure to provide opportunities to young designers. By doing so, I create a trusted designer community and bonds better.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

TYN : By participating in A’ Design Award and Competition, it has expanded my scope, challenging myself to be more outreach. It is beneficial, because during this process you practice a lot of thinking process and in my opinion is it growing process. It also makes you take another step further to improve yourself further, to upkeep your skill to be competitive advantage and motivate you to be out of your own confined zone. Further to that, A’ Design Award and Competition has created an extension platform to reach the media internationally, it will bring your current state to another level. Being the Designer of the Day, makes me feel proud that I further make known to the people of my work. And that motivates me to do better in coming future.

Teong Yan Ni Profile

Blue Daisy Multifunctional Ring

Blue Daisy Multifunctional Ring design by Teong Yan Ni

Blue Daisy Multifunctional Pendant

Blue Daisy Multifunctional Pendant design by Teong Yan Ni

Blue Daisy Multifunctional Earrings

Blue Daisy Multifunctional Earrings design by Teong Yan Ni

Purple Orchid  Ring

Purple Orchid Ring design by Teong Yan Ni


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