The Inspiration Behind Keeping ASEAN Jewellery Alive

Garden of Desire; a contemporary jewellery brand that features pieces inspired by history, experience, Auguste Rodin, architecture and traces of time. Recently, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the founders of Garden of Desire – husband and wife, Agnes Lim and Ly Pisith.

Agnes Lim is a fine art and arts administration graduate and for years, had worked in the visual arts, curating and developing exhibitions and projects with artists from Singapore and other parts of Asia. It was through art did Agnes meet Pisith, who then built his career as a product designer for Alain Mikli, Starck and other haute couture international brands in Paris.

In Pisith’s and Agnes’ conversations together, they found a common passion for jewellery. By then, Pisith had also begun to be submersed by thoughts of his first home, Cambodia. In 2007, he returned. And a year later, the Garden of Desire jewellery gallery was born, co-founded by Agnes and Pisith.

Agnes’s love affair with jewellery, in particular, had begun when she was a girl accompanying her mother to jewellery shops. When asked about her fondest memories of visiting jewellery shops with her mom, Agnes responded, “When Mom had some colourful gems to be set for a simple classic ring. But that was a long time ago. She has since passed on.”.

The idea behind the brand really intrigued us. We wanted to understand what was the inspiration behind the name “Garden of Desire” and what does the brand aim to inspire.

“I have lost a great part of me with the war which took away the lives of so many people and my loved ones. Garden of Desire is about recreating a thing of beauty. It is the garden I wish I had known, that I now wish to grow. It is about my evolution. I can’t erase the past but I can move on. It represents my struggle to love my country again,” said Pisith.

“The garden isn’t just about jewellery. My wish to also to help the next generation of young artisans and sales assistants we train. When I create my pieces, I have a story, my story, to share a point of view. People from varied backgrounds who then pick them up have a connection with or are able to relate on different levels to the story encapsulated in a work of jewellery art. At times, they create their own interpretations and connections. They see what I don’t see, thus, creating their own Garden of Desire.”

The intricate pieces of jewellery featured in Garden of Desire were inspired by Pisith’s Cambodian roots. A collection in particular that was heavily inspired by Cambodia was the Khmer collection.

“In my Khmer collection, I create pieces that are innately linked to my Cambodian roots, that celebrate our built, natural and cultural heritage. In my earlier collection, a social commentary of sorts, I incorporated the grey sandstone (carved by my stone artisan) in my design rather than using precious gems. This is a reminder that our riches lies in our backyard, rather than the luxury goods and cars you see around you.”

These work of art are made with sourced materials from Cambodia and around the region, primarily, Silver. In the last decade, Pisith and his team of respected craftsmen have been focusing on silver which is not only a historic material, but one with unique transformative qualities as well as the story behind each piece.

With 2022 in gear, Agnes and Pisith are working hard to rebuild their business, that faced challenges in the past two years due to the pandemic. However, fans can keep a look out for their new collection that’s in the making! Check out their Instagram here.