Malaysian jewelry designer draws inspiration from ‘kampung’ life for her designs

Calling herself a “kampung girl at heart”, Sakinah Hassan, designer and founder of Wasis Studio, grew up playing with seeds and pods in Terengganu.

This is what inspired the Seed(Pods) 2022 collection, a collaboration with Nelissa Hilman.

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Influenced by the cycle of the seasons and the theme of renewal, seeds and seed pods including those of wildflowers, roses and gourds were the inspiration for the contemporary and ultra-modern 12-piece collection which consists of rings, earrings and brooches plated in 24- carat gold.

“It fits with the revival theme I have in mind and it also goes with NH’s theme for SS22, Journey in Grace (Grounded),” Sakinah expresses.

For the collection, Sakinah Hassan was inspired by her childhood playing with seeds and pods. Photo: Sakinah Hassan“I spent four to six weeks researching seeds and pods, randomly drawing many different shapes before shortlisting about 23 sketches and finally choosing seven to make mockups.

The NH team (Nelissa Hilman) then decided on five designs and I spent another two weeks working on the mockups before turning them into 12 different pieces for the collection.

As an artist, days can get lonely as you work in a fairly lonely environment, and Sakinah feels that working on the collection has rejuvenated and creatively revitalized her.

“The opportunity to collaborate with Nelissa Hilman has given me new energy, new life, just like when seeds are dispersed from pods. Seeds and pods symbolize the process of renewal by opening up, releasing and starting over by planting the seeds; seeds of change, seeds of life, seeds of hope,” she says.

Prior to launching the Seed(Pods) collection, Sakinah released a small, one-of-a-kind, nine-piece blackened silver collection called “Crease, Crumple, Fold: A record of gestures”, inspired by Ellen Sampson’s writing.

Formed with soft wax to show signs of use and wear, the pieces are then cast in sterling silver – commemorating the maker’s touch.

Making jewelry is not an easy task, and Sakinah struggles to convey to Malaysians what contemporary jewelry is all about.

There are also production issues, as there are not many suppliers and services available locally that provide the materials she needs.

“Especially since the lockdown, it’s become even more limited so I’ve had to adapt and change my way of working based on what’s possible at the moment,” says Sakinah.

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“Wasis is currently a solo show, so it can sometimes be difficult to get things done quickly, but I manage expectations by giving a timeline on when people can expect to receive their order(s) . Hiring another studio jeweler to help me is something I’m looking to do when the situation allows.

“I hope that through sharing sessions and more exhibitions, more Malaysians will experience and learn to appreciate contemporary jewelry,” says Sakinah, who is currently working on her next collection which she hopes to launch in early 2023.

Marjorie N. McClure