Kay Jiaqi Zhou

Professional in Jewelry Design.

About Kay Jiaqi Zhou

Kay Jiaqi Zhou is the founder and designer of POPORCELAIN, a contemporary porcelain jewellery brand based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her jewellery has been carefully designed and handcrafted. Every piece of porcelain has experienced more than 15 hours of kiln firing, with temperatures reaching over 1200°C. She believes that creating, refining, handcrafting is what her jewellery is all about.

  • Winner of Jewelry Design Award.
  • Specialized in Jewelry Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Jewelry
Snow White Jewellery Collection

Snow White Jewellery Collection

Jewelry Design


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Interview with Kay Jiaqi Zhou

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I didn’t know if I would like to be a designer when I was little. When I was about 16, I was facing the issue about choosing a major to study in school. I wasn’t sure will I be good at science, maths or languages, but I was quite sure I like drawing. I didn’t want to give up this hobby so I decided to go for the art and design route. I did my Product Design diploma in China Academy of Art and I finished my Product Design master degree in Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in the UK.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
My company is called ‘POPORCELAIN’. It’s about contemporary handmade porcelain jewellery. Currently locates in Copenhagen, Denmark. I work alone.
What is "design" for you?
‘Design’ for me is like an approach which helps me to discover and understand the world.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
It’s hard to name my most favourite design, but I can say one which has stuck in my mind for a long time. It’s the collaboration watch piece designed by Uma Wang for Swatch. It’s called the Black Dancing Rose.The design is a fully black tone wrist watch with artistic leather strap around the dial. Swatch is a brand I like. I appreciate that they smartly balance the commercial side and the creative side. For this special collaboration piece, it’s like a pioneer telling the audience how arty Swatch watch could be.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
A collection of kids watches full of cute and floral patterns. They were not fancy pieces at all, but I quite enjoyed drawing those kiddie patterns.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
Porcelain. I feel porcelain is magical and miracle. The more I work with it, the more I appreciate it.
What makes a design successful?
The ways how they help people solve a problem or assist people to achieve certain positive purpose.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Is it ‘anti-human or anti-environment’ ?! I would judge a design as good design if it’s under a healthy developing process, which includes environmentally friendly, designers and workers friendly. Not abuse using materials. Not over-pressured on designers nor under-valued on workers.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
Certainly designers play a very key role in creating new pieces for the world. I feel designers should have the responsibilities to lead people to understand and adapt eco-friendly and aesthetic concepts and products.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
Design field is getting more and more globalised nowadays. Everything seems full of possibilities. Could the future of design be: wakening the olds and creating the news, or combining these two.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
I didn’t have a proper exhibition of my branded products yet. I am not sure when would be my next exhibition after this A’ design award exhibition.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
From the nature, daily life or other design areas. Sources of inspirations could be browsing images, shopping nice clothes and accessories or spending lots of time by browsing crafts shops or vintage shops.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
Contemporary, fashionable, handmade, feminine. My approach to design is to try what I can do. If it failed, make another one or try something else. I believe that creating, refining, handcrafting is what my jewellery is all about.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I currently live the Denmark, while I come from the very south part of China. I do feel the cultural heritage of my country affects my designs, especially when we are talking about ‘china’! Pros: Denmark is like a wonderland for designers. It’s full of design atmosphere in Denmark. The ‘hygge’ cosiness can calm me down and warm me up. Cons: Winter, the sun disappeared.
How do you work with companies?
I work alone at the moment, but I keep in touch with my different suppliers. I feel good to maintain the stable relationship with them.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
Thoroughly and friendly communication between companies and designer is more likely to lead a satisfied design result. Before companies selecting a designer, they could arrange a design brief for the designer to finish. If they are happy with the result then that could be the good designer for them. Once they have selected them, the company should be open-mined and trust in the designer.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
My design process sometimes begins with sketching. Sketch the idea I got from different bits and bobs, could be an old piece from a vintage shop, or some patterns I have seen from an image. Sometimes I may skip the sketching process. I go directly to the clay and play with it then make something up. My design making process usually includes moulding, crafting, painting, firing, glazing, polishing and assembling. The most time consuming parts would be crafting and firing, sometimes also assembling.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
Piuma chair by Piero Lissoni for KartellRevolve sofa bed by Numen/ForUse for ProstoriaWood sparrows by NovoformCircus Set boxes by Marcel Wanders for AlessiPastel pink colour rain coat by RAINS
Can you describe a day in your life?
My workdays usually begin at 7, with simple breakfast and coffee. Then check my emails and social medias. It’s a luxury for me to work from home. My studio is just next to my kitchen. Depends on the work schedule, sometimes I sit in front of the computer to sort out the digital issues, like photo editing, design specifying, emailing or document archiving. But what I enjoy more is to turn my Wi-Fi off then turn the music on and facing my clay or jewellery bits. I allow myself to have a long lunch break. Usually is an hour or even more than that, because it’s very common I work more than 9 hours a day. A long lunch break can refresh myself. I try not to work too many hours in a day. That is possibly one of my principle for being a good designer – not overworking.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
Positives: As a designer, I can feel a product more then a shopper, buyer or user. I can understand more of the product not only from the look or the function. I would see things in more details and think more. Negatives: Being picky when something didn’t finish in a nice way. I would complain more when a design makes me feel uncomfortable or inconvenient.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
Software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Wacom, Microsoft office. My studio room is full of big and small hardware and tools: the ceramic kiln, different glaze jars, different kind of powder, potters’ tools, pens…
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
Indeed, designing can be very time consuming. I try to record my daily routine on my dairy by every half an hour. The purpose for this is to keep myself up to speed and try not to waste so much time. While I am in the studio room, I like to turn my Wi-hi off from my phone. This really helps me concentrate on what I am doing.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
Unlike fast fashion jewellery, my jewellery design comes relatively slow. It could be some two months or half a year, some of the pieces could take even longer time to develop.
What was your most important job experience?
While I was working with my previous job, I learned how to analyse a trend; how to deconstruct and reconstruct a design.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy working on something more artistic, creative, alternative, less commercial, less mainstream. I don’t mean the commercial and mainstream products have less value. On the contrary, they power the global business running. I just feel there are plenty of talented designers working on those. I don’t think I can be even better, so perhaps I should do something else.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
The next step for me would still be developing more good designs for POPORCELAIN. In the future I would like to set up my brand shop and design studio.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
Some of my designs have been paused because I haven’t found the suitable components for them. Very often I face the issue about sourcing the right components, especially in metal. I only make them in small quantity, so that the manufacturers are not interested in dealing with me. This is one of the difficulty in my design process.
How can people contact you?
Email, is the best way to contact me. Or nowadays can also be Facebook page or Instagram message. I don’t feel like to answer phone calls especially when I am working - my hands are covered with gloves and muds.
Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
Although I usually work alone, I am happy to work on collaboration design with other designers or companies.

Designer of the Day Interview with Kay Jiaqi Zhou

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I did my Product Design diploma in China Academy of Art then I finished my Product Design master degree in Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in the UK. Before I started my personal brand POPORCELAIN, I worked for a fashion watch design company in the UK.
How did you become a designer?
I was quite good at drawing when I was little, but I didn’t know if I would like to be a designer. When I was about 16, I was facing the issue about choosing a major to study in school. I wasn’t sure will I be good at science, maths or languages, but I was quite sure I like drawing, crafting. I didn’t want to give up this hobby so I decided to go for the art and design route.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
The top 3 aspects of the my deisgn process are crafting, firing and testing. I should perhaps also mention sketching. A lot of the design began with sketching, but this doesn’t apply to all. Sometimes design took place while I play with defferent materials. Crafting is extremely important through the whole design process, no matter before or after firing.Firing is the key for turning clay into porcelain. It’s the ’must-have’ process. Testing applies to all design. Any new design pieces would be tested in different phases. It could be testing on the new glaze, new firing method, new shapes etc..I don’t use digital tools or do rederings to assist my design at the moment, but I can see the possibilities for computer aided design, which is something I would possibly try in the future.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
Unsure, challenging, satisfied. Most of the design journey is unsure and challenging. Sometimes even could be disappointing. The most exciting moment can be ‘unlock the kiln’(open the kiln). I always look forward to seeing the new born porcelain pieces, but the fire result may not always be successful. Seeing the final finished product is satisfied and pleased. Turing something undesirable(the soft muddy clay) into some beautiful and desirable jewellery brings me the sense of happiness.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
Shopping, searching. Shopping definitely benefit my design. Daily life shopping can bring me ideas and inspirations. Also it can keep to up-to-date with the trends.Good searcing skill can help me find out solutions. For example searching on new materials, or making methods etc.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
My growth path so far has been slow and steady. The next step for me would still be developing more good designs for POPORCELAIN. In the future I would like to set up my brand shop and design studio.‘Dream design project’ – cooperate with sophisticated porcelain craftsman and other skillful craftsman – combing the traditional skills to the modern designs.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
Be open-minded, be humble, be concentrated, be cheerful, be patient.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
Don’t be afraid to try something new, also don’t feel too upset if it failed.
What is your day to day look like?
My workdays usually begin at 7, with simple breakfast and coffee. Then check my emails and social medias. It’s a luxury for me to work from home. My studio is just next to my kitchen. Depends on the work schedule, sometimes I sit in front of the computer to sort out the digital issues, like photo editing, design specifying, emailing or document archiving. But what I enjoy more is to turn my Wi-Fi off then turn the music on and facing my clay or jewellery bits in my studio. I allow myself to have a long lunch break. Usually is an hour or even more than that, because it’s very common I work more than 9 hours a day. A long lunch break can refresh myself. I try not to work too many hours in a day. That is possibly one of my principle for being a good designer – not overworking.
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
I would follow up the latest design trends, but I don’t completely stick with them. I would like my jewellery design to be fashionable, but also timeless. Social medias, fashion and design websites, blogs are the best way to look for new trends. Design trends are like the wind that makes the whole industry dynamic. Without wind, the whole atmosphere would be dull and lifeless.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
A well designed product or project should be thoroughly considered during the desiging and making process, also the post-consuming process. Is the whole process ‘anti-human or anti-environment’ ?! I would judge a design as good design if it’s under a healthy developing process, which should be environmentally friendly, designers and workers friendly. Not abuse using materials. Not over-pressured on designers nor under-valued on workers.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
Every new design piece would be tested before they are launched. Once they can pass the test, they are ready. But there will always be a way to improve them, such as improving the materials or the making technique.
What is your biggest design work?
Plum Blossom Cluster Necklace is the biggest design work so far. Simply because its a delicate statement piece and it takes a long time to make.
Who is your favourite designer?
mmm…. This is a difficult question to answer. I favour a lot of designers. If I have to name some favourites, then they are Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. I love their stunning and lovingly handcrafted products. Their deisgn is fashionble, beautiful, detailed, also sometimes a bit playful. If I were given a chance to talk with a signle dead designer, I would like to talk to Zaha Hadid, who gave the new definition to walls and floors.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
I currently live the Denmark, while I come from the very south part of China. I do feel the cultural heritage of my country affects my designs, especially when we are talking about ‘china’! Denmark is like a wonderland for designers. It’s full of design atmosphere in Denmark. The ‘hygge’ cosiness can calm me down and warm me up.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
I work alone, although I cooperate with bloggers, videographer and suppliers. When I selecting business partners or hiring people, I look for their personality and capability. I prefer to work with honest, humble and creative people.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
I am sorry to say I haven’t achieved much philanthropic contributions to society so far, however I will absolutely love to do so in the future. I think artists, designers and architects should involve themselves with humanitarian projects. It could be even more than human being, it could be about animals, plants or environment.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
Thanks to A’ Design Award, I can see the whole design industry is full of talents and hope. I love to see every designer is trying their best to contribute to the industry and making effect to improve our everyday life. It’s absolutely an honour can be the Designer of the Day. I appreciate this support and encouragement. I will carry on and bring out more good designs.

Extended Interview with Kay Jiaqi Zhou

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
I did my Product Design diploma in China Academy of Art and I finished my Product Design master degree in Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in the UK. Before I start up my brand POPORCELAIN, I worked in a watch design company in the UK.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
I didn’t know if I would like to be a designer when I was little. When I was about 16, I was facing the issue about choosing a major to study in school. I wasn’t sure will I be good at science, maths or languages, but I was quite sure I like drawing. I didn’t want to give up this hobby so I decided to go for the art and design route.
Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
I was quite sure I would like to be a designer when I was about 17. No one forced me. On the contrary, I convinced my parents about my choice.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
I design porcelain jewellery. I wish to design more fashionable or bridal jewellery and accessory pieces.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
Be open-minded, be humble, be concentrated, be cheerful, be patient.
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
A good designer can try to make things perfect, while a great designer can accept things which aren’t perfect.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
Apart from the aesthetics and functionality, I feel a good design should under a healthy developing process, which includes environmental friendly, designers and workers friendly. Not abuse using materials. Not over-pressured on designers nor under-valued on workers.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
The value of good design, not just about the value of the material, or brand effect. The value of it can be considered as the time and story behind the product. I feel to invest in good design is like to protect the pure wish from our mind, because every good design has been deeply considered and refined by the designer.
What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
Bridal accessories and fashion accessories, such as hair accessories and handbags
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
Carl Fabergé, Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana, Alexander McQueen
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
Piuma chair by Piero Lissoni for Kartell: beautiful shape, super light weight, material innovation Revolve sofa bed by Numen/ForUse for Prostoria: multi functional, practical, cute, cosy Wood sparrows by Novoform: lovable shape, handmade, light-hearted Black Dancing Rose limited edition watch by Uma Wang for Swatch: artistic, creative
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
It’s hard to say which one the greatest design. If I have to name one, I would possibly say the Porcelain Daisy Stud earrings. For the audience, the earrings are simple, pretty, practical – easily go well with different outfits. For the materials: durable, environmental friendly. For the making process: handmade and unique.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
‘Design’ for me is like an approach which helps me to discover and understand the world.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
My tutors, my parents and my husband. It’s absolutely hard to say who was my biggest supporter, they are like the different links on the chain, I don’t think I can reach these heights without any of them.
What helped you to become a great designer?
Good education, aboard studying and working experience, support from my families and friends.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
The uncertainty of my work and life were the main obstacles I faced.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
2018 summer collection; more jewellery collections and possibly fashion accessory collections
What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
To be a designer influencer. Not only developing my own brand, but I would like to help young design students or designers, also craftsmen.
How does design help create a better society?
Designs can lead people’s thinking and understanding. Good designs can lead people to understand and adapt eco-friendly and aesthetic concepts and products.
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
Plum blossom statement ring. It has been on my sketchbook for a long time. Because of the technical issue, material issue and assemble issue, it has taken a long way to develop, although these more or less happened with other pieces too.
What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
I would like to see the design industry is going to be more respected, more supported, more invested and more affected.
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
I think design field is possibly getting more and more crossover. Design projects could be happened among different background professionals, or different culture etc.
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
Usually it would take a few months. Sometimes the final result would be developed into quite a different product compared to the original idea. Even sometimes the final shape or the materials of the product is pretty much the same as the original, I would still leave it for a while before it is launched, because I feel like to give it some ‘brewing’ time.
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
Could start from the new trends, or new materials, or new components
What is the role of technology when you design?
Technology plays an absolutely key role for me. And I believe it is possibly the same for everyone. For myself, the new technology ceramic kiln (electric kiln) allows me to access this industry a lot easier than some decades ago. Different software and apps are must-have no matter for design purpose or social purpose.
What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
For a new design, I possibly consider the shape, texture and materials first. Colours or patterns come next. Unlike product shapes and materials, in fashion industry, colour itself doesn’t seem to have ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. I usually begin my design with white colour.
What do you wish people to ask about your design?
What are the differences between your design and the mass-produce pieces.
When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
Could be the using scenario, or the making process behind the scene.
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
Someone who appreciate handcrafted and creative work. Yes, I believe so.
Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
Serious Creativity by Edward de Bono. This was one of the books on the master course booklist. Another one is the Chinese old book Tao Te Ching. They affected the way that how I think.
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
Haha I don’t think I deserve the title of master designer yet. The way that how I develop my skills is to force myself to learn and do something I haven’t tried or I was a bit afraid before.
Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
Irrelative of time and space, but also related to ‘time and space’, definitely Professor Stephen Hawking.
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
I don’t feel it’s much different after I am awarded. Maybe that is because I am still not famous haha.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
Colour: White Place: home Food: Chinese food, Season: summer (in Europe)/spring (in China) Thing: my hands Brand: lots….D&G, Alexander McQueen, Swatch, IKEA…
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
My first designer job interview email sent by my manager went into the junk box. I nearly missed my first formal job in my lifetime. I checked my junk box very occasionally, however I was lucky enough just saw the email in the right time.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
Get up at the good time; go to bed at the good time. Try to do things one by one, try to easy one first.
When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
No, I don’t think so. But it was quite obvious I like drawing since I was little.
What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
Oh….do you mean when the sun becomes a black hole? Then I guess human maybe develop into ‘hype-human’…
Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
I would like to thanks to all my families, friends, fans, and collaboration partners, without you, I would not be me. I appreciate all the supports, kind words and hard works you have done for me. I will carry on to deliver more good designs for you all.

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