X THE COEUR: A SEND LOVE SERIES
Channelling her natural gift for putting into words some very human feelings—making these words, letters and type treatments her art. Meet Karman Tse, creator of The Coeur, a self love project with her series of meaningfully designed 'Send Love' cards.
Where were you born and where feels like home?
I was born in Hong Kong. Home, for me, is very much a feeling. A sense of belonging. A state of heart.
It is freedom to be my self—completely, comfortably.
In a physical sense of the word, I feel most at “home” at home these days. With a book. With my thoughts. Where there’s light and space. Leafy treetops and a never-ending sky with her clouds and sunset magic, her moon and her stars. All is calm—even when it’s noisy outside.
What inspired you to create The Cœur? And if The Cœur was a book, which section of a bookstore would it sit in?
I’m reminded of a line by Rainer Maria Rilke: “Everything is gestation, then giving birth.” I can’t say precisely where or when the seed of inspiration was planted. In retrospect, The Cœur might have been in gestation all my life, and the darkest parts of it, as it turned out, was the most fertile. When I was finally ready, it came into be-ing.
As you know, The Cœur (which means “the heart” in French) is a self-love project. My decade-long battle with depression and anxiety taught me the importance of valuing and loving my self. But before that, the first step was unlearning what the world has told me about who I was/was supposed to be, and rediscovering who I am, truly—and live each day, each choice, from there. Through the years, the conversations I’ve had, he stories of so many people who were generous and courageous enough to share them with me, have been my teachers and guides. I created this space with the intention and hope that such stories, as well as my own writing, could be a source of light and encouragement for others to re-learn to love themselves, to prioritise their mental and emotional wellbeing, to be okay with who they are and choose to be. Self-love is a journey. It takes practice. We must choose our self over and over, every day.
If The Cœur were a book (what an interesting question), I’d like it to sit at the heart of a bookstore, in the “Recommended” or “Highlight” section so its words can reach as many people as possible. 😉
I created this space with the intention and hope that such stories, as well as my own writing, could be a source of light and encouragement for others to re-learn to love themselves, to prioritise their mental and emotional wellbeing, to be okay with who they are and choose to be. Self-love is a journey. It takes practice. We must choose our self over and over, every day.
Your designs are a typographic delight, with emotions subtly expressed through type treatments that a graphic designer can’t miss. Are you self taught or were you formally trained?
Thank you. That’s extremely kind. I’m not formally trained in design. I have had a fascination with the way words present themselves since I was a teenager. I’d go to a bookstore and stand there for hours looking through typography books and studying book-cover designs. It’s like, words have a sense of style, too, you know? Later, it occured to me that it is not just the words themselves that tell the story or convey emotions. Their fonts, their arrangement, the space they occupy and the space they don’t, the shapes they make and the way they flow, or disconnect, have so much more to communicate to those who look closer. That said, I’ve had opportunities throughout my career—as a sub-editor at a newspaper, as a magazine editor and when I designed my own website—that have allowed me to sharpen my eye and skills over the years. For all of it, I am grateful.
Favourite font family to express love?
My own handwriting? 🤓
What is the one guiding mantra for your creative approach?
Go inwards. (That’s where the magic shop is.)
Or, “Shut up, Ego!” when I get really blocked and bothered.
Describe the perfect day.
A day of glorious, unaccountable, undisturbed solitude. Free to just be.
It would begin before sunrise at 5am. There will be yoga, meditation, journalling, two cups of coffee. I’d watch the sun come up to paint the sky. I’d watch clouds and daydream. I’d read. And read. I’d write. Go for a walk or to the book store or supermarket. I like the idea of trying something new and discover a part of me I have yet to meet in that experience. I’d have a really good meal (“Table for one.”). There will be Netflix. I’m always grateful for an ordinary, peaceful day like that. Because you never know when Life is going to give you your next test.
What is your style when it comes to jewellery?
I am drawn to gold, rose or yellow.
I wear my heart on the sleeve, quite literally. What I choose to put on every morning is an expression and reflection of how I feel—or how I want to show up for my self. So, chunky some days, dainty on others, or at times a mix of chunky and dainty, in alignment with the mood and the outfit.
There’s something about layering of jewellery that’s very personal and poetic. It looks beautiful and chic aesthetically, yes. More than that, I think each assemblage tells a story; each alludes to our own layers. Objects hold energy, memories and possess meaning. Especially jewellery. So I choose jewellery that makes me feel something. That’s a big reason why I love my PYAR pieces.
Where are you currently dreaming of travelling to?
Bali, Seoul and somewhere in France.
Did the Covid pandemic change the way you look at life? How?
There were a few major shifts in my personal life in the last two years. The pandemic has given me an opportunity to look deeper inwards. It is easy to blame external circumstances for changes that upturn our world, wreaking havoc in our comfort zones. The thing is, Life will happen, whether it’s Covid or something else. We lose things and people, we experience heartbreak and illness, we want what we can’t have, and get what we don’t want… whether we like it or not. I could go on about this for days with you, but the short answer is: It isn’t what happens to us that changes how we look at, or live, this life. How we choose to respond and show up to what happens—and learn their lessons—changes our insides. And how we see ourselves is how we see life and the world around us. Does it look like love? Or does it look like fear?
During this time, I have gained clarity on what I can live without, what I do want to live with, and an equanimity towards the comings and goings, the seasons of things—and people.
Complete this sentence - “Love is…”
Honestly, I’m still figuring this one out. I think Love is something that will keep revealing itself—it’ll evolve as I evolve. Right now, the answer I have is this: Love is a choice that begins with choosing my self. We all want to be loved by someone, by everyone, yet we’re not always capable or willing to love ourselves. How is that reasonable? When I finally learned to love and value my self, the world started to look different. My self worth is no longer decided by others. I am just me, scars and all. And it’s okay. The poet Rupi Kaur wrote: “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” The love we’ve been searching for all our lives is not out there—it is inside of us all along.
Karman styles herself in Love collection Heart Bangle, Petite, Medium & Jumbo Heart necklaces layered with Essential Rope Chain and Amanti Bracelet.
Follow @thecoeurofficial / @thisiskarman
All photographs by Karman, Interview by Nazneen
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PYAR Stories celebrates the human potential to create, everyone has a unique talent and a unique way of expressing it. Through these stories — we aim to create meaningful exchanges motivated by love and the pursuit of a more love conscious life.