Fashion designer Becki Chan’s zigzag career path has danced across many of our Designers of the Year categories. She has a bachelor of arts in sculpture from the University of Calgary and she also studied architecture at the University of British Columbia. For 15 years, her work involved large public art exhibitions, interior projects and brand activations. “I loved every single project, but part of me was missing the hands-on work,” says Chan. Often, her designs went from sketch to computer to fabricator—but she really missed being a maker.

Chan was grinding it out in Toronto, mostly on commercial projects, and doing a little retail therapy to keep herself sane (“Some people do yoga, I shopped,” she laughs) when she came across a jewellery workshop at a local store. And just like that, she started to connect the dots. Her background in sculpture gave her experience in welding and wax casting, and she’d made plenty of small-scale conceptual models in architectural school. She was a natural.

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The Rift collection challenges the very definition of the word “ring."

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Rift collection.

After taking every class the store offered, Chan moved back to Vancouver and opened her own studio. Perhaps surprisingly, it was her years of working on large projects that actually informed the design of her tiniest pieces.

Her Facet collection, for example, was inspired by the shapes and forms of building facades, with rough, tactile edges meant to catch the light in the same way an angular building does. In the Basin collection, a gemstone is held tightly by cylindrical metal that is open on either side—like a water basin one might find in a church. “Usually, we kind of hide gemstones in the way we frame them,” says Chan. “This is a peek into how deep and how beautiful the stone is.”

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Church water basins were Chan’s inspiration for the Basin collection.

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In the Basin collection, “the gemstone is set in a thick bezel seat with an opening on each side to reveal the depth and the cut of the gemstone,” explains Chan. 

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The textured form of Chan’s Facet ring is both bold and restrained.

Judge Satu Maaranen, head designer of ready-to-wear, bags and accessories at Marimekko, called Chan’s work “timeless and modern,” while judge Gaby Bayona of Truvelle applauded how wearable the pieces are. Chan’s architecturally sensitive design eye is not lost on her clients, many of whom are interior designers and architects themselves.

But she has a lighthearted take on her work, too: she compares her jewellery design to playing with Lego. We have to agree—it’s simple geometry assembled with innovation, and a lot of heart. 

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Credit: Tanya Goehring

Designer Becki Chan.

WL Designers of the Year 2021 ▸▸▸