IN CONVERSATION WITH THE BRAND ASTERISK
Interview by Nadia ten Hove
In this interview, we explore the world of jewelry design through the lens of passionate and talented Berlin-based artist Zan Hyang Song . We delve into their journey, inspirations, and favorite pieces, gaining valuable insight into their creative process.
From childhood obsessions with shiny objects to the profound symbolism behind their designs, we uncover the stories that have shaped their unique brand. Explore the artistry and vision of this talented jewelry maker as we delve into their unique creations and gain insight into their future aspirations.
What sparked your interest in designing and making jewelry? What was your journey?
My mother told me that ever since I was a kid, I was obsessed with shiny and sparkly objects, ornaments, and jewelry. I used to throw white stepping stones from school on the ground as hard as I could until they broke in half, and I was obsessed with the sparkly surface on the inside of the cracked stones. I always brought them home as if I found some treasure.
Once when I was little, I noticed the shop window of a Swarovski store full of crystals. I begged my mom to go inside, and I was just overwhelmed. I desperately wanted to bring something small back home so I could always look at it. I was begging and begging, and so my mom decided to get a small violin-shaped crystal for me. I was so obsessed with it that I couldn’t take my eyes off it the next few days. I think this day, as a kid in that Swarovski shop, was my first spark.
I started creating jewelry in January 2022 and began to share my work in February. After working as a photographer for a long time, I wanted to challenge my creativity in a new way.
My biggest motivation is seeing my own growth as an artist and coming up with new designs, shapes, and forms that reflect my current mood and emotions too.
Creative direction and Photography: @pixel_injection
Makeup assistant: @elize.mua
What is the meaning of your brand name?
In the beginning, I just liked the Asterisk * symbol, and then it developed its meaning afterward, like puzzle pieces.
Asterisk is also used in the German language to express oneself in a gender-neutral way and including trans and nonbinary people, which spoke to me as a nonbinary creative. In literature in general, the asterisk is also used to elaborate and redefine something that was already said. Besides, I also think the shape of the asterisk picks up my designs too.
Where do you take inspiration from?
Mother Nature is the best designer from which I often draw inspiration. My Sonic Bloom mini collection is mostly inspired by diverse flowers to create a floral arrangement effect.
My jewelry is inspired by exploration of identity, fluidity, and natural shapes of plants and creatures and how they interact with each other. As the process of making jewelry by hand acts as a form of meditation and inner healing for me, the organic shapes of my pieces always are a reflection of my unconsciousness and inner state of mind.
For example, the “고요/Goyo Necklace” series is all about tranquility, as the name says. My work always represents my unconsciousness, and my mind is completely calm and quiet during the process, so I came up with the name and concept after I made the necklace series.
Since making jewelry became a habit and a routine to ground myself, I just started making necklaces, which evoked the interest to make individual links and adding them up to make a whole. Since everything is unplanned with no structure or sketches, I just let my hands move however they want without fear and doubt.
I usually listen to music while making jewelry to get into the zone, but during the sessions of creating this collection, I felt like only listening to the sounds of the process. I tried to interpret tranquility into necklaces in different ways in different sessions, depending on how I felt on the day, with the goal of creating one necklace each day for one week.
What was one of your favorite pieces you made and why?
I have a lot of favorite pieces since they are all very personal to me, but I have to say that the “거북알/Turtle Egg Necklace” is one of my absolute favorites. In Korean history, the turtle/turtle shell symbol has been often used in ornaments, objects, and jewelry design since it holds a lot of meaning in Korean culture.
Slowly but slowly, the tortoise goes its own way. The two eyes symbolize the sun and the moon and are said to have the power to lead the heavens and the earth/universe. Since ancient times, the turtle is a symbol of wealth, one of the Ten Symbols of Longevity, and a spiritual creature that always repays a favor. Therefore, it is mostly used in a good sense, such as props or decorations related to turtles, feng shui, contemplation, and dreams. It felt reconnecting to me to use an ancient Korean symbol as a reference, and the meaning of the turtle often reflects myself.
Can you tell me a bit about one of your favorite projects/shoots you did?
I cannot say yet that I have a favorite shoot I have done since there are only a few photoshoot projects I did. Mostly, my pieces are loaned to stylists, and they do the magic. I would love to plan a project in the future where I can direct everything. But I do have a favorite collaboration I did with Devon Pelleter, aka @archivedvanity.
I’ve been wanting to work with him for a long time, and then one day, he sent me a DM if we could collaborate, and I gasped because he really is a creative/MUA I absolutely adore. He sent me his visions and ideas with sketches, a mood board, etc., and I was really amazed by how thoroughly he plans a look. I trusted his vision fully and was so excited to send my pieces. After a few days, he sent me the most beautiful shots of my jewelry I’ve ever seen, with his makeup work and aesthetic.
The slightest details were also just perfect, like how he wore the ear cuff upside down. I hope that there will be another collaboration with Devon in the future.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the future?
Since I am doing everything on my own, it can get lonely and stressful sometimes. So in the future, I would love to have a team with whom I can share my vision and feel comfortable and supported.
I would love to have an environment where friendships and work can coexist. In the far future, I can see myself in Australia, having my HQ there, appreciating the nature and working from all around the world with my team.