No Thanks

As we kick off AAPI heritage month, I’ve been thinking back on how this year started and the process behind the Anna Kikue for 88rising Moonrise Medals for their inaugural gala. As usual, there’s far than what meets the eye, so here’s a glimpse at some BTS.

I approached this project in multiple phases: discovery and research, concepting and moodboards, design, prototyping, and production. Along the way I had the honor of working closely with the 88rising team, and collaborated with talented family, friends, experts, and artisans right here in LA. Over holidays, evenings, and weekends, we brought to life one of the most technically complicated designs I’ve produced thus far.

This journey was driven by the shared intention of harmonizing contemporary interpretations of traditional cross-cultural Asian symbolism. Ultimately, I ended up leaning heavily into a theme that has always been meaningful to me—that of the family crest—and subtly marrying that with other visual themes around the power of lunar cycles and the Year of the Dragon.

In my research, I was captivated by the bold, graphic iconography and emblems found across different Asian cultures—from the Filipino ifugao to Japanese kamon to emblems embedded in ancient Chinese and Korean textiles, architecture, and more.

With its petals lifted above the curved surface of the pendant, the flower, a central motif of the piece, mirrors our recognition of the importance of preserving the beauty and vitality of our shared community, ensuring that it continues to bloom for generations to come—across time and space.

Cloud patterns, symbolic across Asian cultures, add depth to both the scene and our narrative, depicting the ever-changing nature of our identity and heritage. Their puffy spiral forms and wavy bends subtly honor the Year of the Dragon, yet the design remains timeless, transcending any specific zodiac year or era.

Inspired by the luminous crescent phase of the moon at the base of the piece, the Moonrise Award stands as a symbol of unity and evolution. It merges traditional elements with modern aesthetics. The faceted rope chain, reminiscent of the cords from which gongs and bells hang in shrines, signifies our interconnectedness and the collective strength of our community.

Special thanks again to Chris Yenn at 88rising, and the many minds, hearts, and hands in my corner that worked tirelessly to make this possible: Kapono Chung - Creative Direction & Graphic Design; Eda Levenson - Visual Research; Laura Cheng - Consultation; Yaxuan Zhang - CAD Design, et al.



The New York Times | Inside the Lunar New Year Galas Hosted by the New York Philharmonic and 88rising

Billboard | 88rising Announces Inaugural Moonrise Gala Honoring Jackson Wang, NIKI & More

Hypebeast | Inside 88rising’s Inaugural Moonrise Gala, a Celebration of Asian Creativity During Lunar New Year