Furze Chan, an online shop owner and artist from Hong Kong, has an ongoing project I really enjoy called Object Dialogue. She talks to people with what she considers interesting occupations about their work, the tools they use and the stories behind those objects. There are conversations with a freelance modeler, a translator and a veterinary surgeon, to give you an idea of the people Furze interviews. The interviews are long form, casual and try to show how these people think. The writing is a refreshing difference from sound-bite filled, highly polished Q&A’s. Some of the questions Furze asks remind me of The Great Discontent (an online journal of interviews exploring questions on creativity). For example, she asks her subjects if they think they have achieved their desire for living and why what they do is important to them.
A particularly compelling aspect of these interviews is the focus on the tools these creatives use. Each item is well-photographed, named and captioned by the interviewee. I appreciate the attention to detail both Furze and her subjects give to every last tool, no matter how big or small. Kalun, a fashion photographer in Hong Kong, mentions his Pentax 67, a treasured camera, as well as safety pins and clips he uses to change the cutting of clothes during fashion shoots. Chi Hoi, a comic artist, describes each separate drawing tool he needs to do his work well. What’s even more fascinating than the meticulous listing and descriptions are the personal memories and emotions the interviewees attach to their tools. Kalun says his Pentax gives him a feeling of stability no other camera can and Chi Hoi knows that he bought his round blue pencil sharpener in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It would be a revealing exercise to write out the stories behind the objects we treasure the most or use most frequently.
Furze Chan also runs Ferse Verse, a small online shop based in Hong Kong that sells items she carefully curates. The store stocks exquisite, uncommon objects that Furze places under the following categories: tools, kitchen, office, books and zines, accessories, or cards and toys. Furze describes her store.
Objects tell interesting stories. They speak through their form and texture, about their beauty and their history. Beautiful objects are to be treasured and enjoyed. We only sell products that we fall in love with.
I find that an inspiring vision for a store to have and think it should be true of all small retailers. In my personal life, I wish I could cull the amount of objects I own and use down to the ones I’m truly in love with.
As of writing this article, some of the items for sale in Ferse Verse are of the highly unusual, debatably practical sort: a vintage brass cricket box, a sterling silver report card pendant, and an old postage scale. Some things I immediately wanted to pick up for their function, aesthetics or both were a pair of folding small scissors, a bamboo spoon set, red animal stickers and a galvanized iron postcard. The selection reminds me of another quirky store—Kiosk in New York that sells, as they advertise it, “things from places.”
Furze also makes some of the products she sells under the brand With Her Animal Poetry. My favorite of her handmade products are the paper animal puppets with movable parts. Furze, despite her love of objects, actually promotes a sort of anti-materialism. She makes, sells and talks thoughtfully about objects with meaning and function. She recommends conscious consideration of the things around us. Give her blog, shop and Object Dialogue a visit.