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New Guest Friend: Angus Zhao from AHW Studio

New Guest Friend: Angus Zhao from AHW Studio

For longer than I can remember, I have been intrigued in the idea of ‘raw’ - a concept that keeping something in its original form, or ageing something to perfection and stripping elements down to their ‘raw’ and their most bare-bone form will reveal ‘something else.' This may take a long time to realise, and will always be an ongoing process. It is a strive to ‘find’ it.

Jewellery design has always been around in the family. Dad worked with jewellery when very young before pursuing sculpture and Mum was deeply set into textiles and illustration.

I obtained a bachelor in applied design at Billy Blue in North Sydney, and (like anyone) initially dreamed of freelance design with my best mate after college. That was discovered to be unfeasible, time draining and energy sucking... so we moved on.

My ‘training’ has really come from an accumulation of experience from looking at my parents' working procedures and processes. I’ve really figured to apply the principles and disciplines of graphic design towards this, and now everything else I know: shape, shadow, contours, contrast, form follows function, form over function, form IS function,  and everything in vice-versa.

The ‘AHW’ in AHW Studio is my mother’s name: Adelaide Huan Wang. She’s continuously been the advocate for ‘utilising’ new materials - ceramics, silver, brass etc. And Dad is perpetually intrigued with the ways to ‘see’ and ‘treat’ these materials.

Working with the parents and family has its ups and downs - the ups are inspiring and motivating and downs are abysmal! It has gradually progressed from ‘working for my parents’ to now a ‘working for myself, and collaborating with my parents’ and that reward I feel I’ve yet to even fully uncover and appreciate.  We’ve been operating for around 15 years, experimenting with all sorts of ideas and materials, and our latest is the ‘mechanical art’ you see.

Each of our pieces have a character of their own. Their own patina, their own damage, and of course their own story. We have to treat them equally, but we’re also unable to treat them the same.

We make batches at one time, and it can take from minutes up to weeks and even months to find the right pieces. 

We start at the cufflinks as the difficulty is to find the pair. The pieces are also based on the rarity of the double, the difficulty of remaking it into a wearable piece, and the difficulty of keeping it in tact in its original form. The pieces are not based on size, brand, or tone/colour. Just remembering the idea that the smaller the piece, the more difficult to engineer, make, polish and engrave.

The mere usage of vintage watch mechanisms isn’t enough. I felt we had to prove something... a concept in itself: a Reminder, that the idea and act of time-telling in this day and age is too easy. We’ve essentially forgotten this century-old art form of ‘watchmaking’ which has almost became extinct.

I wanted to show that older objects have had time to properly age and weather and wear and, just like wine or jeans, they break-in better and better. I wanted to flip a notion, rather than just a watch. And rather than just make wearable jewellery, to reinterpret a mechanical object that could exist in realms such as art, sculpture, architecture, and dabble in fields such as typography, topography and even cartography. I may have romanticised quite a lot here, but that’s the point!

My aesthetic is dark, definitely dark! I find myself immersed into rich, sombre tones and the gloomy, inky ends of the spectrum. Blacks blues greys, and everything in-between.

My car has been a very prominent part of my life[style], and working with such pieces for continuous time on-end proved to bleed into my everyday objects.

This was a project I decided to take up a few years back, when I noticed that the faux-leather cover for my shift-stick had unclicked itself from the center console... so I peeked inside... and noticed that there was a complete, mechanical world that was undiscovered.

I stripped back more. The more I tore, the more I found... the more I was interested, the more I found, because the more I tore. Just like these mechanical timepieces, it was a upward spiral that exponentially grew to unknown yet exciting heights. I was buzzing.

The fact that these BITS had always been here, but never shown. That I was ‘going back in time’, reversing and ‘unmaking’ what the manufacturer did, to see the true intent of the car. I was literally driving a chassis around, like a shell. I felt that especially when inside a VW Beetle, it felt like I was embedded within a hull of a hollowed ship...or gritty behemoth.

This project will be an ongoing one for me, I feel, as there’s an infinite more to discover. Right now there’s no spare wheel, back-seats, glove box and radio! I wish to eventually show its best, true potential as another piece of mechanical art within the world I’m in.

More of Angus' work is here and here.  And his tumblr kicks ass.