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The roots of Garden of Desire go back almost five decades to the tumultuous era of the Khmer Rouge, to when a young Cambodian boy was separated from his family and forced to flee to Thailand and, subsequently, France.
Years later, in his 20s and living in Paris, Ly Pisith found solace in art and, ultimately, his vocation in design. For years, he built his career as a product designer for Alain Mikli, Starck and other international brands in Paris. His career trajectory then took him to Singapore where his innovative designs won clients and awards alike.
It was through his work that Pisith met art curator, Agnes Lim. A fine art and arts administration graduate, Agnes had, for years, worked in the visual arts, curating and developing exhibitions and projects with artists from Singapore and other parts of Asia. Like Pisith, Agnes was a lover of all things beautiful. Her love affair with jewellery in particular had begun when she was a girl accompanying her mother to jewellery shops and, afterwards, trying to make jewellery of her own out of scrap paper and copper wire.
In Pisith’s and Agnes’ conversations together, they found a common passion for jewellery. By then, Pisith had also begun to be submersed by thoughts of his first home. In 2007, he returned to Cambodia. A year later, the Garden of Desire jewellery gallery was born, co-founded by Agnes and Pisith.
Based in Pisith’s home country, Garden of Desire showcases contemporary jewellery designed by Pisith and handmade in silver by him and his team of respected craftsmen. As its Singapore-and-Cambodia-based director, Agnes handles business and marketing, as well as collaborates with guest designers to create seasonal collections.
Since its birth, Garden of Desire has grown to include two galleries in Siem Reap, one in Phnom Penh and Singapore. Today, Garden of Desire jewellery – made from 955 fine silver, 925 sterling silver and semi-precious stones – is renowned for its unique, contemporary designs and expert craftsmanship.
But what truly sets Garden of Desire jewellery apart are the stories the pieces tell. The creative force behind its collections, Pisith creates jewellery that is innately linked to his Cambodian roots. Embedded with meaning, his works refer to the past, present and future, expressing his positive aspirations for his country as well as paying homage to his culture.
In their commitment to giving back to Cambodian society, Pisith and Agnes are passionate about providing enduring employment with fair work practices and enhancing the trade. They are also devoted to reviving a beloved artistic tradition and placing Khmer heritage at the forefront of global, contemporary design.