Richard was busy designing a spring fashion collection inspired by the works of artist and photographer A. Modigliani for a private client.March 2003
Richard presented Vietnamese ceramics at ‘Asia Week’ in New York.Why can’t Richard be either an interior or fashion designer?
He trained in both disciplines at the schools in MA in fashion design from Domus Academy, Milan. An AIA from The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, California. And a N.D. from The London College of Fashion, London.But why doesn’t he conform?
He did for two years back in 1985 when he worked as assistant fashion designer at Thomas Wee & Mixables labels in Singapore. Plus stints creating embroidery detail for Krizia in Milan and pattern drafter for Benny Ong in London. Then from 1994 to 1998, he swerved to cataloguing an extensive 19th and 20th century photography collection for Camera Works Inc. in New York.How did his Japanese ECA again expand his professional sphere?
He mastered the Japanese tea ceremony at the Urasenke Chanoyu Center, New York, New York. That led him to specialising in the sale of antique and comtempory Japanese tea ware and small art objects. And then advising private private clients on how to appreciate and integrate Eastern aesthetics into their life from fashion to home furnishing and food.RG
Actually, I do not have precise plans or intentions, to do so many creative things in the beginning. Now, I have no choice but to do them all! It was certainly fortuitous that, in my twenties, I was able to travel extensively and receive my artistic education in London, Milan, and Los Angeles. These diverse opportunities created the base which allows me to do so many things and be open to anything and still able to bring them into one focus point when desired.
When I am at that moment of creating, I am not myself—at least not my limited self. Because of this, I never know what I will do or manifest next. I’m not so much thinking about what to do as I’m accessing the deepest secrets of my heart or, if I may, seeking to know what my soul wants for nourishment. There’s always an intriguing, hidden message that keeps me wanting to dip into this delightful unknown reality.RG
Always, with a gentle and relaxed mood. I strive to create a disciplined lifestyle. When my focus is on my professional services, I pay full attention to the needs and desires of my clients. Sometimes, in private moments, I just do nothing, allowing creative inspirations the opportunity to flow into my consciousness.
Waking up every morning, looking out my old window into the clear blue sky is my vision of HEAVEN. When I am walking down the street, perhaps passing by a charming dog, or even gazing at a tree, I feel great joy and inspiration. Everythings in life inspires me to appreciate, create and share beauty! Whether I am designing a three-piece suit, making a bowl of Chinese noodles or dealing with a Japanese ceramic, I feel the same joy bubbling up inside me. In my opinion, everything is part of one’s artistic expression, with no separation.RG
I am less business oriented than service oriented. So I put all my quality ingredients together with my best intentions to create my works. This is what I do with all my clients: I open up my big elephant ears and listen to them… sensitively really listen to how they want to feel, what they definitely don’t want, and what they think they might want. My intension is to infuse my experiences and influences into their dream to help them to bring out the best of their personalities in their surroundings, and to fully live up to their expectations of me and the outcome of our work together.
My clients are a group of artistic or art-loving, mostly private, people who want to live graciously and enjoy a harmonious life with beautiful things around them.RG
Singapore has always been very westernised. However, growing up in Singapore is certainly a plus; providing me with many perspertives on art and life. I was already working as fashion designer, since I was 19 in 1983, before I left for Europe and America. It’s really been my devotion to studying Japanese tea-ceremony, chanoyu, that has triggered my great interest in oriental philosophy.
When I arrived in New York in 1994, through an invitation from one of my favorite clients, I was introduced to what has become an integral part of my life. I attended a tea demonstration at the teahouse; and, since then, I am completely devoted to this practice. For me, every moment of the Japanese tea-ceremony—from the beginning of changing into the ritualistics, beautiful handmade kimono, walking in a space of ‘emptiness’, squatting, selecting and preparing tea utensils, and sitting down on the tatami room doing tea… to the cleaning up, every ritual and movement is a moment of living artistic expression.RG
I am a tea-ceremony student, practising my tea lesson once a week at The Urasenke Chanoyu Center on 69th Street in NYC, which is an old carriage house that was once owned by American painter, Mark Rothko.RG
I believe that Singaporeans are striving to understand and appreciate their own young cultural values. They’re striving to identify what they really want, what really brings them happiness in life. I believe they will build on their good thoughts and attitudes and gradually create an open, creative lifestyle. The performing arts center in Singapore is a good starting point, and I sincerely hope that this can be a place where local talents are being strongly supported.
I could certainly provide my service in Singapore in the near future. I do have my own principles when I serve my clients though; I see us as equal partners in creative endeavour, as people exchanging energies. I am exceedingly good at what I do so I expect my clients to pay full respect to my creations as well as my prices when we collaborate, just as I show respect to their ideas and desires.RG
I am a great believer in positive and loving thoughts. For instance, when I am designing a garment for a client, from the sharing of ideas, choosing the colours, weaving the textile, cutting, sewing, pressing, delivering, and finally wearing it, EVERYTHING HAS TO BE IN PLACE WITH THE RIGHT INTENTIONS.
I remember once a client called and, in an enthusiastic voice, she said, “Richard… I am paying you top prices, but every penny that I spend on you is worth it!”RG
I don’t find my career unusual because I am simply doing what feels right to me—openly, naturally and freely expressing myself through every opportunity that presents itself to me. Others might see me as being an unconventional path, but I see it just as a bowl of hot water that I drink everyday, delicious, yet very simple. Now, since I am my own boss, I am completely done in living with the expectations of the others as a burden. Now, it is my joy to live up to the expectations of my clients because we have freely chosen each other.
My mission is to fully create beauty for others to enjoy. There is nothing wrong with attaining beautiful things if you love them. The secret is in determining how you would like to feel, how you can stay in the consciousness of understanding, balance, and happy thoughts seeking beautiful things for others that help them to achieve happiness and higher consciousness. As long as opportunities to do so continue to flow to me, I will stay on this joyous path.
Whan the wind blows, the grass bends in harmony.RG
I must say thank you always for the gift I have received. Whenever they come from, I trust that I will always have them. There are no boundaries in my dictionary; and, because I truly love what I do, so I do it just right. There are always challenging situations we face in life, but better choices can be made if we are aware of them. So… my choice for my path is “The Joy of Living”, and truly I know no other path to take.
Daring to be different, Richard Gien has carved a unique niche in New York serving private clients with means and discerning taste.
Richard believes antique ceramics like these should be used to be best appreciated.
My clients have always shown an interest in integrating the Eastern and Western healing arts and holistic lifestyle. It’s naturally a dream for them to have something built with a sense of eastern feeling. So I am constantly invited to do something interesting in this Japanese room. I aspire to create a mood, working with my carefully selected seasonal utensils and recipes. My intent is to educate and encourage established and potential collectors in the usage of Asia antiques, for they are meant to be used regardless of the monetary value.
Occasionally, I also transform this small space into a teahouse. What I am really doing here is bringing this space ‘alive’ whenever I arrive… bringing my energy to that present moment… like the feeling of someone turning on a sleeping night bulb.