Rick Lau studied fashion design at the Parsons School of Design in New York in the early 1980s and worked as a head designer, design director and brand builder for many American fashion brands. Three years ago Lau returned to his roots in Hong Kong and founded two jewellery labels, What the Fuss and Art Debuts. BuyMeDesign spoke to Lau about his design philosophy and art-inspired jewellery.

When and how were both brands founded?

Both of my brands were built about 12 months ago. My journey in jewellery design started with What the Fuss — a label that focuses on designs inspired by Gothic and tattoo arts. This specific style is very popular among a large group of teenagers and twentysomethings in China.

How did you come up with both names of your brands?

I wanted out-of-the-box kind of names for our brands, something that catches the boys’ and girls’ attention. Something they can associate with their lifestyle and way of thinking.

What makes your designs different and unique?

Different from others brands, you mean? Just take a look and find out yourself. I think designs have to reflect the designers’ own character, such as their views on culture, politics, society, humanity and so on.

Does Chinese culture influence your designs, and if so, how?

My designs are inspired by Western culture, but there is some Chinese influence as well! I’m into Taoism and Buddhism, for example. Eastern culture is all about minimalism, making things as simple as they can be. In Eastern philosophy, empty is full, full is empty. Also, finding the right balance is very important. Think of, for example, Yin and Yang. If you apply this philosophy to design, it means harmoniously using warm and cool colour tones and balancing the large and small on a given space.

What impact can jewellery have on our lives?

Good question. My jewellery designs are not made of expensive materials such as diamonds, gold and silver. This is a decision that ties in with What the Fuss’s slogan, “Rules are made to be broken!” Being stylish has nothing to do with having a lot of money.

What is your motto in life?

Money cannot buy style — it all comes from within.