Made in Vancouver is a collaboration between Vancity and Daily Hive. Together, we shine the spotlight on local businesses, organizations and individuals who help create a healthy local economy.
Jewelry is a particularly personal fashion choice.
We wear jewelry on fingers, ears, toes, around the neck and more, all expressions of our taste and style. We want to know where most of our products come from and by whom, but knowing the story behind the stone is notoriously difficult. People want to understand where their jewelry comes from.
The husband and wife team of Keith Lau and Josephine Liu saw this need and decided to do something about it.
Through Noren Studio, they design conscious refined jewelry that celebrates the relationship between craftsmanship and maker, inspiring appreciation and connection to the wearer behind each piece’s story. Their unique designs inspire and celebrate the intersection of tradition and invention.
Vancity has supported people in our communities since 1946, such as local artists. As part of our Made in Vancouver series featuring local businesses and artists, we spoke with Keith Lau and Josephine Liu about celebrating the craftsmanship of jewelry making through thoughtful stories.
“At Noren, we take ancestral goldsmithing techniques and apply them to making contemporary jewelry that is understated and beautifully constructed, ”they told us.
Lau and Liu both had backgrounds in the jewelry industry, but it was a trip to Europe before returning to Vancouver that the jump started their vision of Noren.
“There is something about the journey that uplifts your senses to visual and emotional stimuli and all the possibilities in the world, ”they told us. “We came back to Vancouver with a new sense of purpose, to inspire curiosity and appreciation through the stories of the craft,” they added.
The Noren items are currently available on their website, but the married couple are set to launch their studio in Mount Pleasant this summer. “We are on the home stretch of our studio redesign and are working on opening the studio to the public in early summer,” Lau said. The local business offers unisex rings, bracelets, and bracelets, with several styling options in gold, platinum, and diamond.
Their unique creations come from inspirations outside of traditional jewelry making, such as Scandinavian furniture.
“I met Ingmar Relling’s Siesta chair while looking at Scandinavian furniture, ”they told the Daily Hive.
“On the Siesta, a cord is passed through a plywood frame and threaded into a fabric backrest. These functional details are left exposed and also serve as a design element of the chair. The idea for Staple came about when I realized the parallels, both functional and aesthetic, of how a staple holds paper together, ”they added.
This innovation and creativity that have created such a sequel for the Noren brand. It is also their personal attention to detail that customers value.
“Jo and I also handcraft everything to order, from jewelry to the solid white oak boxes with a soapy finish that house each piece, in our studio located in Mount Pleasant,” said Lau.
With Noren opening their first brick and mortar storefront, Liu and Lau can both reflect on how they got there.
“SSuccess comes from hard, honorable and reliable work, ”they said. “We will continue to carry these fundamentals with us as we look forward to growing the brand.”
It’s exciting to hear these Vancouver entrepreneurs talk about the future because they have exciting goals for the future.
“First and foremost, we want to build and grow a sustainable business here in Vancouver. Having said that, we do intend to eventually expand beyond our own backyard, ”they told us.
This is the attitude that so many successful Vancouver businesses seem to have. Starting a small local business in the midst of a global pandemic certainly has its challenges, but this family has managed to see the positives in the fight.
“The first few months of the pandemic were very difficult, our custom jewelry studio being very slow, ”they said. “It was important for us as parents to stay positive. The extra time we were able to spend with our daughter was amazing and gave a renewed perspective.
They even managed to find the time to make Noren a real family business.
“After the first month of lockdown, we got the idea that we could sprinkle in a while with her where she could see us working and we could make that part of family time,” they said.
“The world will most certainly be different once the pandemic is over and we want to help make it something better for it.”
Noren Studio already produces some of Vancouver’s hottest jewelry, but it will be so great when the Vancouver community can soon walk into their store and meet the married couple behind the stylish pieces they proudly wear.