AsiaStore Blog - Designers

An afternoon with DITTA

Manila 405Dita Sandico Ong, Manila’s “Wrap Artiste” takes me on a tour through her studio where I had the opportunity to see her “Banaca”,( Ditta’s signature banana fiber/abbaca), creations being made. While the weavers are of this indigenous fiber are off site, all designs and cut and sew are done in her studio. For those of you who are fans of Dita’s wrap creations and in particular her signature sunvisor, you’ll be pleased to know that Ditta has a new design en route to AsiaStore, the Aurora. Shown wearing the Aurua, Dita converts the neck piece into a wrManila 428ap and a visor.

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An Interview with Alex Tukelturk

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Named after one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, Grand Bazaar is co-founded by Alexandra Tukelturk, whose jewelry line “Kader” offers the wearer a glimpse of Istanbul. Alex takes inspiration from the beauty and power of the Ottoman Empire, reinterpreting the magnificence of jewels and gemstones with her creative modern touch. Stunning jewels and semi-precious gemstones are set in sterling silver and oxidized brass for a stunning and elegant effect.

When and how did you realize that you have a talent in designing jewelries?

You know, I went to school for business management. However, I came from a house where my parents are extremely creative. Both my parents. My father was an artist from Colombia, and my mother’s a very creative woman so from them, I got that and I almost did not know that I have it until I started making little pieces of jewelries ten years ago. I got married to a Turkish man, and we started traveling to Turkey more often. Looking at all those beautiful jewelries in Turkey and knowing the stories behind them inspired me to start making jewelries and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Tell me about how your Turkish American background influenced and inspired your current collection at AsiaStore.  

When you think about Asia, Turkey is sitting in the middle of it. Say, if you go to Istanbul, half of it is in Asia, half of it is in Europe. In the Asian part of Istanbul, you’re gonna find a lot of history when Istanbul was Constantinople. The jewels from back then, from the Ottoman Empire, is what really inspires me to design. Obviously, I put my own twist in it, I put my own touch on the jewelries, and I follow the trends of the market. The jewelry industry is very dynamic today, it’s an industry that changes everyday, and you have to be aware of what’s happening everyday. So that’s what we do for the Asia Society designs.

What was your first piece of jewelry like? 

My first piece of jewelry was a ring. It was completely different from what you see today. It was more metal than stone, it was much more basic. You know, you evolve. With everything you do in your life, you acquire more experiences, and you become more trained in what you do. Things evolve and change, and what we’ve done today is the result of the evolution.

What is your design philosophy?

For me, three things are very important when I make a piece of jewelry. First, it has to be beautiful, obviously. It needs to be comfortable, but most of all, it has to be functional. You can have a gorgeous piece of jewelry but if it’s not functional, if you cannot wear it comfortably and feel like it’s part of your outfit, doesn’t say who you are or represents how you feel, then it’s not functional. For me that is the three keys in what I do.

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How do you go about creating a new piece? We’d love to know about your design process—choosing materials, design development, how the team works to do this…

It starts with a thought. Believe it or not, I design a lot when I travel. I travel extensively. When I spend so many hours sitting in an airplane, that’s when I start thinking what I want to do and I start drawing a lot. It starts with an idea and then it translates into a drawing. From that drawing, I sit down with my creative team in Turkey, and then we brainstorm about the piece. We decide what’s doable, what’s not doable, then it becomes a reality. We make it into a mould and from the mould, we actually test for functionality. We know how the metals stress, we know how the stones behave, we know absolutely everything about the piece before we put it in the market. So that’s what we do, we go through a lot of processes. Once a piece is done, and after we try it for a couple of weeks and make sure that it’s good, it’s beautiful and it works, we send it for production. It may take a couple of weeks. But sometimes when we make something more elaborate then it may take a couple of months. If it’s something that we’ve done before and we just want to add some new twist, then it’ll only take a couple of days.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

Stones. Natural stones. If you see something from Alex Tukelturk that has no stones, people might say “are you sure this is from her?” That’s kind of like my trademark.

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What does it mean to you to have your designs sold at AsiaStore at the Asia Society and Museum?

It’s a privilege to be here. I feel blessed to be looked upon. So many people in this area are customers who are educated and they appreciate a piece of jewelry that has so much history behind it. So, it’s really a privilege for me to be here.

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Click here to shop Alex Tukelturk’s products!

Carol Cassidy’s Laotian Silks at AsiaStore

Carol Cassidy returns to Asia Society New York from 12:30-3:30 pm on Friday, April 13, 2012 and Saturday, Aprl 14, 2012 to showcase an expansive array of her latest textiles including her signature brocades, jacquard weaves and ikats. A weaver since she was 17 years old, Cassidy arrived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, as a textile expert working for the United Nations in 1989. A year later the Laotian government granted her a license to start Lao Textiles, making her the first American to run a business in the communist country. Lao Textiles was founded specifically to revitalize the once-flourishing Laotian textile sector, via weavings that combine centuries-old techniques with a modern sensibility.
http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/carol-cassidy-brings-laotian-silk-weaving-asia-society-new-york; http://www.asiastore.org/apr13-15-carol-cassidy.html

AsiaStore Event: Kundan Jewelry by Lalit Kumar

Feb 23-24th 12-4pm: KUNDAN JEWELRY Demonstration

Lalit, a master kundan jewelry maker, lives within the walled city of Old Delhi, once the bastion of the Mughal empire. The art of Kundan was widely acknowledged by Mughal emperors as they sought to design both jewelry and objects set with stones and engraved with names of the emperors for the court. Lalit’s trademark is to engrave beautiful flowers, leaves, birds and animals in the gold plate on the back of a pieces of jewelry

Dita Sandico Ong Hits the Runway

AsiaStore designer Dita Ong presents her 2012 collection ” Czarist Charms: Filipiniana Flirts with Unorthodox Flair” at Fashion Week. Proclaimed the Philippine Wrap Artiste, Dita is known for her innovative designs made out of natural, handmade textiles. As an advocate of environmental and cultural heritage, Dita has been continually working hand in hand with indigenous weaving communities across the Philippines Dita takes inspiration from indigenous fibers, creating sustainable fashions that Check out images from her show at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.255540427858850.60924.116010238478537&type=3

Socially Conscious Designer:Polly & Me

Pakistan based Polly & Me follows social enterprise practices working with skilled craftsmen and artisans at the grassroots level introducing the handicraft and traditional embroidery skills of Chitrali women to the international market. Polly&Me produces apparel and accessories made by eight collectives with over 500 women working in community-based spaces- the female artisans drop in to work together, or take the cloth and thread home to sew. The project is dedicated to empowering the women of Chitral by giving each of them the opportunity to share their stories, dreams, and concerns with the world and in the process, gain a stronger voice through their writing and art. They then translate their drawings, collages, and photographs into tapestries, which are what make up the beautiful and whimsical handbags they sell. Shop Polly & Me at Asiastore http://store.asiastore.org/pollyandme-products.html

Sonam Dubal: Autumn Winter 2011

Designer Sonam Dubal’s Autumn/ Winter 2011 line, ‘Hidden Voices, Ancient Sounds’, takes inspiration from ancient scripts and disappearing musical instruments, specifically, old Central Asian instruments and Brahmi, Pali and Dravidian scripts. “The collection focuses on simultaneity of different cultures, seperate in their own worlds, yet juxtaposed. It is the story of ancient India with its multiplicity of languages, designs, textiles and people.’

“Embroidered jackets, coats and capes with ancient scripts like Pali and Dravidian surface in languages that have lost their voices. These have been reworked in primal geometrics on velvet bodies like asymmetrical capes, formal evening jackets and pants. Instruments that have lost their sound, have been conceptualised as decorative motifs in silk for kaftans, dresses and wraps. Mirrors have been worked on as a symbolic language of dots in circles, triangles and concentric circles. Mirrors and tattoos, central in the ‘Rabari’ tradition from Rajasthan, work as symbols that reflect back to us what we have lost. The multiplicity of our spiritual traditions can be seen in the flow of Dervish style coats and long cut-worked jackets.Velvet is the primary textile for the coming winter, in black and tonalities of gray and brown. Color in the collection is very controlled mainly coffee, charcoal, gray, bordeaux and tonalities of black, creating a magical winter.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48ZzraBYqyw

Sonam presents his latest collection at AsiaStore November 2011

Carol Cassidy’s Cambodian Project

Produced in the remote northern Cambodian province of Preah Vihear, Carol Cassidy’s Cambodia Collection accessories are expertly dyed, woven, and finished by hand, from 100% silk. Cambodia Collection scarves, shawls and sarongs offer traditionally inspired Cambodian patterns, with vibrant color palettes. The colors are striking, the texture subtle. The result: a superlative product, as unique and enduring as the artists themselves.

Though land-mine victims of Cambodia’s decades-long civil war, the artisans of Preah Vihear are using their skills drawing upon a rich regional heritage of weaving. Started in 1998 with five women, the project today employs over 80 farmers, spinners, dyers, weavers and finishers. The project has a complete dye shop and modern section warping system with 38 looms. The Preah Vihear project contributes to sustainable income for the artisans. With the income from the project, the community has built homes with electricity, clean water, and put their children through school.

SHOP Carol’s Silk Textiles at AsiaStore http://www.asiastore.org/carol-cassidy-products.html

Asiastore Features Socially Conscious Designers


If every person inspires the person next to them to take action, things will change.” Dalai Lama

AsiaStore is proud to feature individuals who are making a difference…socially conscious designers who are not only making beautiful products, but are also giving back….

Carol Cassidy- Laos and Cambodia ; Dita Ong-Philippines
Nina Ngyuen -Vietnam ; Pamela Hiran-Thailand
Poetic Threads of Pakistan; Polly & Me-Pakistan

more about these wonderful projects at: http://www.asiastore.org/socially-concious.html

After Hours with Gem Palace

Diamonds, Rubies and Emeralds ………oh my !!
Princess for an evening….every girl’s dream brought to life as Siddharth Kasliwal, son of renowned jewelry designer Munnu and 8th generation of the famed Jaipur based Kasliwal family of Gem Palace, pulled out one dazzling creation after another, draping his east side guests in museum worthy gems! Maharajas from all over India have commissioned the Kasliwal family of Gem Palace, to make jewellery and object d’art of gold and precious stones. Most recently showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC…this dazzling array of gemstones fit for royalty left us all oohing and ahhing.