NUME NUME is a new accessory brand coming out of Taiwan helmed by designer Amelie Chen. Its work – otherworldly, odd, yet approachable – excites with diverse offerings, displayed beautifully in this photo series by Poyen Chen.
The brand’s name is derived from Japanese. “‘NUME NUME’ is the pronunciation of the Japanese word ‘ぬめぬめ’, meaning moist, slimy and glistening,” writes Amelie Chen, the main designer behind NUME NUME. While this may seem like an odd inspiration for a brand, it motivates a fluidity in design and a creature-centred approach to accessory fabrication, adding to the brand’s individuality.
After all, at its core, NUME NUME is an accessory brand, and blending pieces gracefully into its wearers’ daily lives is a natural part of the crafting process. A variety of accessories are hand-crafted from different metals – as a result, every piece’s manufacture takes a considerable amount of time, a theme in Chen’s life.
“I have always had a tendency to create in a time-consuming and traditional handmade fashion… I often present visually, with a structureless and chaotic intuition.” For the majority of NUME NUME’s pieces, silver and brass are utilised; chosen for their perceived feelings of “warmth and smoothness”. There’s a leisureliness to it, which Chen insists is intentional. “It presents the slow pace of urban life in a somewhat old-fashioned and yet magical narrative style.”
This magical leisureliness can be seen in the works on display in this collection photographed by experimental photographer Poyen Chen. “It has been a very enjoyable trial collaboration,” says Amelie. “[He] has his own style and is highly self-aware. This set of photographs, showing lighting so full of a dramatic chiaroscuro, the contrast between light and dark… He made my pieces the visual centre of the photographs without being reduced to dull merchandise photography. I have a particular love for the sense of conflict in these pictures — soft human bodies demonstrating powerful postures, while metal pieces put emphasis on the softness and beauty of human bodies.”
There was a distinctly collaborative component to the series, which allowed for the pieces to be shown in diverse and intriguing ways. “For me, this project has perhaps shown the strength of metalwork accessories, to present a strong and clear message and to point out the focuses of beauty, which are always on the human body… Every artist collaborating on this project pays full attention to one another’s work and its details, making a stronger vibe and a more powerful narrative on the whole.”
As far as inspiration for NUME NUME is concerned, Chen’s answer is simple: people. “For me, humans are the most bizarre and yet interesting beings,” she explains. “I like to set myself at a distance to observe people’s behaviour or mindset.” The catalyst for this particular shoot was, oddly enough, a cubic watermelon. “It has no reason for survival on its own, but it is what humans do, turning a naturally spherical watermelon into a cubical one using extrusion. It is the ridiculous and funny stories like this that often become the stimulants for my creation.”
Chen was not always an accessory designer. Previously, her work focused on illustration, where she also took a measured and metered approach. Discovering metalwork, however, was transformative. “I was like an ant in a two-dimensional world suddenly put into a three-dimensional world,” states Chen. “Turning my creation from graphical to stereoscopic was fresh and charming, but what remained the same was that patience is always a necessity. In the world of metalwork, the process plays an important role, and it requires a huge amount of repetition. After a long time, the work turns the naturally cold metal into a piece full of life.” Her excitement is clear. “I am tremendously obsessed with this magical process.”
In the future, the brand hopes to expand beyond its current offerings, possibly into other media. “In addition to stabilizing current sales momentum, maybe we will try retro accessories or tableware,” says Chen. “Hopefully we can develop more branches for the production of series workpieces in the future.”