Tucked away in a nondiscript hutong in Beijing's historic Dongcheng District is WUHAO, Isabelle Pascal's design platform. WUHAO, number five, is a curated retail experience mixing fashion, furniture, tableware and accessories. Beyond taking in the unique stone and traditional garden setting, stepping through the door of this traditional courthouse is a journey into the exceptionally enthusiastic vision of Pascal and her team. After visiting China in 2002, Pascal was "immediately captivated by the country's energy" and relocated to Beijing in 2009 to develop the framework for WUHAO. Today, she represents a number of emerging Chinese designers—including Core77 faves Naihan Li and Pinwu Studio—and has become a global champion for their innovative design.
The newest designer in Pascal's stable is 21-year-old Mian Wu, a recent Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) graduate. Her graduation project, Start from a Ring, is the centerpiece of WUHAO's fall experience. Wu's project examines the process of mass jewelry production and challenges ideas of perfection vs. defective.
In industrial jewelry manufacturing, a silicon mold and wax injection machine produce mass standard wax copies which will then, in turn, be cast using metal into jewelry. The process produces wax defects (see above)—typically these are just reconstituted and injected again. Wu creates beauty from these iterations.
In her project Start from a Ring she used a silicon "mother mold" of a diamond ring and created 100 wax copies. She selected 5 of the copies at random, used them to make press molds, and began the process again. Over the course of 10 rounds, the errors began to create new abstract "rings." The final wax copy is constructed into a new, perfect piece of jewelry to be worn. As Mian explains, "The outcome of machine production is influenced by the subjective creation, but finally, it returns back to machine production again. This process becomes uncontrollable. With the involvement of new error and accident, a new life is born."
At WUHAO, Pascal created a lucky draw where buyers can break through a paper seal to randomly select one of 55 "defects" from the process or purchase the final piece. Finding delight in all the details at WUHAO, Pascal explained that, "Chinese people love to gamble," and a bit of luck never hurt anyone.
35 Mao'er Hutong