• Elemental Elegance

    Interview with jewellery designer Cactus Meng.

Founded in 2023 in Italy, RQ Cactus is a unisex designer brand that merges the raw beauty of nature with cutting-edge artistry. Each piece of silver jewelry transcends gender norms, capturing nature’s intricate textures and forms, while inspiring fearless self-expression and a profound connection with the natural world.

Can you introduce us to the creative force behind RQ Cactus?

The creation process of RQ Cactus is actually a journey of personal self-awakening for me. It has evolved from chasing trends and seeking others’ attention to focusing on myself and discovering the often-overlooked details and incredible beauty in the nature around me. In my designs, you can also see that the textures and beauty are not something I invented or created; they are elements that already exist in nature.

What drives your passion for jewelry design?

To be honest, I don’t have a formal background in jewelry design, but I’ve been passionate about and studying it for many years. In my spare time, I create silver pieces paired with stones I love, which I give to friends or consign to vintage shops.
I enjoy seeing how different colored stones or other materials pair with the texture of metals. Through various shapes and lines, these pieces finally come to life when they touch and adorn the skin, complementing each individual’s unique traits. The way each person wears them creates a completely different feeling. It’s a blend of the real and the surreal, which I find truly fascinating.

What was the catalyst for founding RQ Cactus and how did the brand name came up?

I’ve always dreamed of having my own brand. Last year, I finally decided to turn that dream into reality. I chose to quit my stable job and let go of the security that came with a steady paycheck to pursue my dream. After all, we only live once, right? RQ stands for “RenQiu,” which is Chinese for “rolling person.” It’s a playful nod to my own nomadic lifestyle over the years. Cactus is my favorite plant—it has thorns but can bloom. It can survive in harsh desert conditions yet remains vibrantly green and full of water and energy. It embodies everything I aspire to be. That’s the story behind RQ Cactus.

What is the creative process behind your intricate patterns and textures?

As I mentioned, these textures are not something I created; they already exist in nature. I spent many years in Europe, where the natural landscapes are truly beautiful. The structures formed by mountains, rivers, trees, and branches, flowers blooming on grasslands and in rock crevices, and the diverse colors of nature across different seasons are all incredibly beautiful. It simply requires a calm and attentive mind to discover them.

What inspired you to focus on silver jewelry?

Silver is a material that many young people love (and by young, I don’t mean just in terms of age). Its intrinsic value isn’t as exaggerated as gold, but its hardness and malleability surpass gold. Tin and copper are also beautiful, but they lack the stability of silver. Silver’s color can change in various ways through different techniques, much like the vibrant and multifaceted nature of today’s youth, don’t you think?

RQ Cactus emphasizes the balance between opposing forces like black and white, yin and yang.

There’s an old Chinese saying: “When I observe things, they all reflect my mood.” The same object can evoke completely different feelings depending on your perspective and emotions. In my view, many things lack absolute right or wrong, beauty or ugliness, good or bad. This includes gender—male or female—which is a combination of two aspects. Choosing what feels most comfortable in the moment is a personal decision that doesn’t need external labels or constraints. I hope everyone can respect their own inner feelings and not be swayed by external voices. At the same time, it’s important to embrace and respect the differences in others.

How do you translate these abstract concepts into tangible jewelry designs?

In fact, my personal habit is to focus on the details and one part that resonate the most with you. There are so many beautiful things and moments in this world, but we can’t have them all, can we? It’s about finding the aspects that resonate with you the most in something that piques your curiosity. Also the process of creation is also a process of selection and letting go, hahaha.

Can you walk us through the creation of your unique patterns and textures?

I’d like to give an example: the Arbor Nest Ring. Birds are the best architects, blending branches and trees together to create their homes. I’ve lived alone in various cities and countries in Europe for nine years, which has made me reflect on the concept of home, think of my mother, and consider the societal issues and pursuit of freedom and equality faced by women.
So, I use the form of a bird’s nest, but its shape resembles the female’s vagina . The black color symbolizes the pain of childbirth and the agony of menstruation, while the white represents purity and the essence of self. Beyond being mothers or other roles, women should be themselves—pure, beautiful, radiant, and youthful (youthful here isn’t defined by age, but by a certain spirit and quality, though I haven’t found a better word to express this. Sometimes language and human expression truly feel inadequate). It signifies being undefined by others.

How do you embed stories within each piece?

To be honest, not every piece I create has a story behind it. Some are simply about showcasing their form, allowing elements from nature to shine through a different medium. I hope that those who appreciate them can wear these pieces and create or incorporate their own stories into them.

What does “returning to nature” mean in the context of your brand?

I think this is something many people advocate for. In the current digital age, I’m not saying that staying curious and gathering more information through the internet is a bad thing, but it does take away a lot of our attention and time. When we’re amidst beautiful scenery and nature, we often subconsciously spend time taking videos and photos, planning to post them on Instagram or other social media platforms later so that more people can see them. But what about you, who is present at that moment? Did you really see it? The beautiful things are right around us; sometimes we just need to put down our phones and look up to feel them.

Can you elaborate on the idea of dual expressions and conversations between the soul and nature?

One of my favorite bands, Whale Circus, once told me that there is a mysterious connection between the soul and nature that we haven’t fully understood yet. We often try to deconstruct and analyze everything using language and mathematics. However, there must be other ways of perceiving and understanding, like music, which we can comprehend without words, engaging parts of our brain beyond the realm of language. Telepathy might not be impossible; perhaps we have just been too focused on our current methods and overlooked other possibilities. To me, deep perception with nature is the key to forming connections and having meaningful “conversations.

What exciting innovations and designs can we expect from RQ Cactus in the near future?

RQ Cactus doesn’t frequently update its product line, but each year, there are a few new additions. On our website, you can also find the limited collection, which is purely a form of self-expression, independent of external feedback. This also represents another form of yin and yang. I hope that when I look back every few years, I can see the evolution of my creative journey (if the brand still exists then). The next season’s new products will be released in September or October. They are all inspired by a specific element: water. These pieces will wrap around different parts of your body. I hope that those who see RQ Cactus will have their attention captured by these new pieces and linger for a few more seconds

Elemental Elegance / RQ Cactus

Credits:

Brand: RQ Cactus Meng / @rq_cactus
Photography: Haoyu Qi / @welcometoqiworld
Stylist: Menghua / @__sstuff
Makeup: Hejun Shi / @chicherdrink
Visual Design: Yimo, Yivil  / @yiziyizi011 @a_xinyiii
Models: Silvia Guerrera, Zimu / @silviaguerrera @zimu.ai

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