These days it is a fashionable norm to jump over the fence and design products that have never been the designer’s forte. Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most influential artists, has tried his hand at jewelry designing to debut his first collection. Otherwise, Ai Weiwei has been renowned for his larger-than-life installations that include works made from 99 tons of steel as well as 8 million sunflower seeds installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.The 58-year-old Chinese artist took the world by surprise with the launch of his collection of jewelry in London. Dubbed, Rebar in Gold, it is influenced by Ai Weiwei’s investigation into the devastating 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, which killed approximately 70,000 people. Upon visiting Wenchuan after the earthquake, Ai found a mass of contorted steel rebar, left behind from the fallen school buildings. Ai purchased 200 tonnes of the material from the scrapyards for use in a bold body of work dedicated to the catastrophe. Weiwei and his team straightened them and used them in his now-iconic artwork “Straight,” which is currently on view at the Royal Academy in London.The unique 24kt gold bracelet is designed in various lengths, 60cm and 20cm. As the gold is pure at, it is flexible and each bar is individually bent by the artist, creating the first form for the wearer to then adjust on his or her wrist, finger or neck.Sharing his experience of designing the miniature gold rebars, Ai mentions, “I liked working with 24-karat gold because it is very malleable. I have twisted each bar to my own design, but the idea is that the wearer then can shape them to their own fit, to their own story.” The artist also added an aesthetic explanation, “It’s about commemoration and memory. Whether that’s your memory or the one I have, that’s up to you, so you mold the piece to suit you. I used gold because it’s precious, and that’s what life is — precious. If you wear this piece in the name of the memory of a life lost or your life ahead, that’s what matters. It’s all about respect for life.”Ai Weiwei’s Rebar in Gold collection, ranging from $34,000-$69,000, is on view at the Elisabetta Cipriani gallery, 23 Heddon Street, London.
NYC fashion writer blogging about all things lux. Attending New York University, future Fashionista.