The Precious Firsts Of ML Rojanatorn na Songkhla
ML Rojanatorn na Songkhla has worked in collaboration with many well-known brands during her three decades in the industry and most notably designed a piece for the Lions of Windsor and Maidenhead exhibition in 2019, worked on a Miss Universe crown and had her designs featured by famous Japanese chinaware maker Noritake.
You are known for your custom designs. What’s special about this collection?
This is the first time I’ve worked exclusively with diamonds and nothing else. It is also my first time doing sort of pre-designed jewellery instead of custom-made, so it’s totally different. The price is accessible and the designs are practical to wear. Most importantly, the pieces will last. I have been in the jewellery business a long time and have found that there is no point in wearing jewellery or spending a lot of money on it if it won’t last. It is so much better to be able to pass on jewellery to loved ones. Another thing is the pieces are lightweight, so you won’t feel like you’re wearing anything heavy during special occasions. You’ll look beautiful and feel comfortable.
Describe the collection please.
It’s a collection of jewellery pieces featuring multiple diamonds ranging from 10 to 30 points in size. These pre-designed pieces will be displayed for people to try and can be made to order in different sizes or with higher or lower grade diamonds as preferred. Some pieces have already been reserved and on the day of the launch we expect the rest to sell but those interested can order from the sketches.
Are there more projects to come from this collaboration?
Yes! Personally I have always wanted to work with blue sapphires, emeralds and diamonds together and the Premiera Group liked my designs for the diamond collection so they asked me to collaborate on a colour stone collection as well. It’s quite hard to find high grade sapphires in Thailand and luckily they have plenty of them ranging from all shades of blue to pink and even yellow. In fact, the project is already in the works and the collection is set to launch at the end of this year.
How about personal projects?
I really want to make my own bone china sets and put some of my sketches and designs on them. I have done them before with Noritake many years ago and would like to do something similar again. I want to make a personalised set for myself. I might also try to turn some of my designs into fabric wallpaper, see how that turns out. Finding time is the key. A year or so ago I stopped taking orders for my custom-made jewellery business but I still have over 200 pieces to work on in addition to the collections with the Premiera Group. I think I’m going to need some help!
How old were you when you started out?
Oh it’s been so long. I think I was around 26 years old. I’m going to be 60 this year so I have been working in jewellery design for over 30 years. I had my first shop in Bangkok and grew to have seven boutiques here. I moved to the UK in 2009 as my son was going to school there. I opened my London boutique in 2011.
How would you describe your style?
My style has changed a lot over 30 years. When I was in my late 20s, maybe 27-28 years old, I was wild and my work was like a fantasy. I would use lots and lots and lots of colour. There were big pieces that were designed for fashion week in which I used all kinds of materials—resins, plastics, glass, shells, all kinds of things. I still like to juxtapose my work, putting fine jewellery on strings of rubber for example. I just want to make it fun.
If you had to describe your role, what would it be?
People call me an artist. Before that they used to call me a jewellery designer. I don’t think of myself as an artist and I tell my students not to call themselves artists unless or until they have enough regarded work for people to judge them as such. It takes a lifetime to develop a reputation. When people look at the work and they recognise it as yours, that’s when you have achieved something. Recognition is always nice and it was an honour to receive the Artist Award at the Bazaar X FACE Awards two years ago. I hope ultimately that I’m a positive creative influence and a mentor to others.
How do you spend your free time?
Well, I like to spend my days both here and in London because I have two homes in the UK and I love them. I also have good friends in London and want to go back and spend time with them when I can travel again. My son went to school there since he was nine years old. I studied in the UK in the late 1970s and feel very at home there. People don’t know me in London as much as they know me here so I live a more anonymous, settled life there. I paint when I can and I also love cooking. In fact I cook every day for my family and my staff.
What brings you happiness?
The people here! Especially when they write to me on Instagram telling me how much they like my work. When I was living in London I was asked if I wanted to take up UK citizenship but I declined. Although I love the country and the people I am very proud of being a Thai designer. One of the highlights of my career to date was being asked to design a statue for the Lions of Windsor and Maidenhead event. It was a thrill to see the plaque beside it recording that it was done by a Thai artist. I was so proud to see that and my name next to my work.
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