Artist Spotlight on Designer Rany Son – INA + ILIA

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To Illuminate // Artist Spotlight

Christina Thelin

Posted on June 30 2018

Rany Son Designer Cambodia INA + ILIA


Preserving high end craft(wo)manship around the world

Our mission is to identify, preserve and elevate the high end artistry and crafts(wo)manship of products found in villages across the globe from Cambodia to Colombia and connect them with conscious customers. As such, we partner with both individual artists as well as artist collectives around the world.

With INA + ILIA:

  • Receive one of a kind, high-quality, conscious products rooted in positive energy
  • You know where your home decor products are made, and who makes them
  • Empower artisans and their communities financially and socially
  • Help them share and sustain traditional crafts


Artisan spotlight: Rany Son // Siem Reap, Cambodia

Our current collection hails from South East Asia, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, India, and Indonesia. This month, we are highlighting female entrepreneur and designer, Rany San, located in Siem Reap just outside of the famed holy site, Angkor Wat.

Rany , and her small staff of female craftswomen work in a two-story workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Her pieces are hand-crafted and typically include the use of seeds, beads, and natural elements. Rany uses over twenty different kinds of seed found growing locally to create delicate homewares including one of our bestsellers, the Rany Buddha named after the designer herself.


Using nature’s bounty to create jewelry and home goods

Rany covers each Buddha with hand-applied, painted Job’s tears seeds; a tall grain-bearing tropical plant in the Southeast Asia grass family. The seeds represent growth, while the white color represents illumination, understanding, beginnings, possibility, and protection.

Rany founded her company in 2011 following a divorce that left her struggling financially. She always had an artistic streak and loved being creative but, as the oldest of seven children, had never had opportunities to go to art school or study design.

From breakdown to breakthrough

“One day I was driving my motorbike and I was so sad in my life, so lonely. I saw some seeds on the road so I stopped and collected them,” she says. Som thought they were beautiful and saw potential in the small, colorful seeds. She thought perhaps she could thread them together to create jewelry.

"I have no idea how to make a hole, so I borrowed a drill from neighbor,” she says. ”The seeds were very hard and I cut my hand. I couldn’t do it so I paid a guy but he only worked for me one day. He said it was very hard, that It was a girl’s job, and didn’t want to do it.“ The selection of seeds is a painstaking process. Each one must be a perfect size, shape and symmetry to fit Rany’s design.

Persevering against all odds to follow her heart

Reluctant to give up, Rany persevered and slowly worked out how to drill the tiny holes, eventually producing a pair of earrings. Rany gradually built up a modest jewelry collection and started showing her work to friends at her birthday party. They were impressed and urged her to make more. Today, she owns two thriving shops in Siem Reap where she sells jewelry and homewares.

“In the future I would like to have a small piece of land in the countryside and to have a proper workshop with all my plants, so I can show people what I do.”



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