ADA CHEN

By SPECIWOMEN Photography LAUREN DAVIS

©Lauren Davis

©Lauren Davis

Who are you?
I am an artist and jeweler who creates pieces that explore my identity as a Chinese American Woman.

When did your interest in fashion come about?
I became interested in fashion because I went to an arts high school that focused only on traditional painting and drawing and I became disinterested in two-dimensional, representative art. I became more interested in an art form that also functioned. I tried an introductory fashion pre-college course during a summer in high school and ended up being more interested in the 2 hour jewelry workshop that I attended. Jewelry as a medium lent itself to my inclination towards functional art and was a craft I was almost entirely unfamiliar with, so I loved the challenge of it when I majored in jewelry in college.

What sparked the beginning of your career as a designer and jeweler?

To elaborate a little more, I studied jewelry in college because I was highly averse to studying any 2D medium and because I liked the sculptural freedom that jewelry allowed. I liked the challenge that came with designing to the body, but did not want to focus on fashion because of how saturated and competitive the industry is. Now that I've entered the professional world as a jeweler, I am not quite stuck on jewelry as a medium. I am still open to exploring other mediums of expression and look forward to how I can incorporate my knowledge in jewelry.

Who are the top designers you’d like to work with?
I think I'd rather work with artists than designers, but if I would have to choose I've definitely been loving Kim Shui lately and Rihanna for FENTY.

Now, who are three designers—or trends—you think are overrated?
I hate the camo pants trend, but I think that has been dying down. I honestly think putting genitals on jewelry is overrated, and also simple, dainty, geometric jewelry.

What about designing is more liberating than other artistic forms?
This is a weird question because I've never thought of designing as more liberating than other artistic forms. I'm not sure it is more liberating, but I definitely enjoy designing more than other fine arts mediums because there will always be the goal of function to guide the process. I can find myself stuck when trying to execute something in a fine arts medium because I can get stuck with all the freedom and not know where to start.

As a woman in the industry, what have your experiences been like?
In the jewelry industry, women are very prominent figures because a lot of jewelry is catered towards women. Men do, however, seem to dominate positions of power. I think I notice my woman-ness most when I have to run errands on 47th St. in the Diamond District NYC and I have to interact with the men at the companies where I buy materials or outsource services. This experience can feel a little uncomfortable because of the very familiar, subtly sexist greetings and comments. Otherwise, being surrounded by so many women in the industry is pretty empowering and I never feel like I really have to fight some rich man to make it-- not that there aren't other privileged communities I feel like I have to fight.

Have you ever had your products commercialized? If so, where can we buy them?
I don't have a manufacturer yet, so I hand-make all of the products I've commercialized.
You can buy them from my website: www.potadachen.com

Describe your aesthetic in six words.
memes, sarcastic, proud, maximalist, Chinese American

What inspired your brand and what would you like to achieve for it?
Memes and the hyper-exploration of identity inspired my brand and I want to help carve a seat in pop culture for Asian Americans.

Follow Ada’s work here.

©Lauren Davis

©Lauren Davis

©Lauren Davis

©Lauren Davis