Venus Chu


Cabinet of Curiosities

Aristocrats in the 19th century had vast collections, and they were a symbolism of their social status. They called their collections a “cabinet of curiosities”, and they were highly valued and had special rooms designed just to store and display the objects. Essentially, this collection depicts my personal “cabinet of curiosities”. I also wanted to examine the reasons for why humans have the urge to save and collect objects. Hence, I looked at various psychological journals investigating the motivations behind why humans collect.
Through my research, some of the key points I drew were that oftentimes, people have the tendency to collect objects that are rare and hard to find. This ties into the endowment effect, which describes people’s tendency to value something, the more they own it. Psychologists also found that many people think that owning two of anything is difficult to justify, which prompts them to want to pursue and achieve a purpose such as building a collection with more objects.
Image: historical research
Image: research from a psychological journarnal

Design Development

Ever since I was a child, I loved collecting objects. I’ve collected things like shells, butterflies, various ribbons, stones, and crystals. To this day, I still find myself thinking about adding to my collections. This prompted me to begin my design process by examining my collections and all the objects I collect. I analyzed the various shapes, textures, colors, and the characteristics that drew me to these objects and made me want to collect them.
I also created a mindmap with the word “collect”, and looked at the synonyms to that word. This informed my first step of fabric manipulations and draping. I did pin-tucks on pieces of fabrics shaped like the objects in my collections, “gathering” the fabric together where the tucks were, and did some draping. I also created multiple prints by “grouping” and “compiling” photos of the objects that I collect to create collages and prints.
Image: mindmap with images of objects I collect
Image: fabric manipulations
Image: further development from mindmap
Image: drapes and fabric development

Pattern making

Based on the drapes and the silhouettes that I came up with from the design development phase, I tailored and corrected each pattern to make them fit to the body. I also did various iterations, exploring different ways I could translate the lines and textures. I did this through seams, tucks, prints, beading, and the silhouette of the garments.
Image: Look 1 - process
Image: Look 1 - flat and final fabric
Image: Look 2 - process
Image: Look 2 - flat and final fabric
Image: Look 3 - process
Image: Look 3 - flat and final fabric
Image: Look 4 - process
Image: Look 4 - flat and final fabric
Image: Look 5 - process
Image: Look 5 - flat and final fabric
Image: Look 6 - process
Image: Look 6 - flat and final fabric


Editorial Images

Final editorial photoshoot inspired by the way the 19th century aristocrats displayed their "Cabinet of Curiosities".
Photographer: Karina Garza
Model: Sarah Huynh
Image: Bag designs

I used the motifs of the shell and the butterflies in my collection to create bags. Also, the ribbon imagery is also seen through the multiple strands in the third bag. The organic structures and shapes of these designs correlate back to the nature of many of the objects in my collections, having organic and fluid shapes.
Image: Fine Jewelry designs

I took inspiration from the motifs of the shell for Collection 1, and the butterfly motif for Collection 2. These designs both highlight and work in unison with the stones used to create a sense of fluidity.


Venus Chu is a New York based artist and designer. Born and raised in Hong Kong and Beijing, she draws a lot of inspiration from growing up in a multicultural city. Her work focuses on luxury womenswear and jewelry. She graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in Fashion Design, and has a jewelry design certification from GIA.

Venus draws inspiration from the experiences in her life, and she explores her visual and conceptual ideas through fabric manipulations, colors, prints, and silhouettes. From collaging images and textiles to draping, her design process consists of both analog and digital.