DJG member Shelby Fitzpatrick interviews new designer Jelka Quintelier, of ‘Black Lune‘.
SF: How did you get into jewellery design?
JQ: I was always creating and making when I was a child. Growing up with my mom being a kindergarten teacher I was always doing all sorts of crafts. When I was a teenager I absolutely loved cutting up my clothes and remaking them. Then I got into sewing classes and actually learned how to make my own clothes. All through college I thought I would either study architecture or fashion design. But after college I got introduced to the contemporary fine art world and this shook things up a little for me. I went on to study art jewellery design in Antwerp. What I didn’t realise at first is that my dad’s profession must have played a role as well. He is a dental technician and at an early age I was making pieces in wax that he would then cast for me in metal.
Jewellery encompasses everything I am passionate about: art and design, body and sculpture, the use of different materials and the link with fashion.
I still don’t see myself as a traditional jewellery designer. I like creating bigger sculptural pieces and interior installations as well as the occasional fashion garment for editorial shoots.
SF: What do you enjoy most about creating?
JQ: The anticipation! The start of a new piece. When I am still in the testing and experimenting stage and everything is still possible. I love that I can constantly evolve my work and that there will always be a next step in the process. There will always be a new idea, that’s what keeps it exciting.
SF: Tell us a little bit more about your design process.
JQ: I use two different work processes when I design the laser-cut rubber jewellery. The first one involves a lot of photography. When I come across interesting or striking images in the city I generally takes photo’s and then make them into my own patterns by printing them in black and white and cutting them up. The second method is about making a 2D cut out pattern have the impression of a 3D piece when worn on the body. This basically means a lot of experimenting and paper cuts before I get to a final design.
SF: What inspired you for your multi-functional work?
JQ: My graduation project at the Royal College of Art was inspired by the phenomenon of the urban nomad and the fact that more and more people tend to live in several places. We seem to move between places, cities and countries but we still like to carry our personal objects with us to contain a sense of self. In the past precious jewellery would have been the first thing you would take with you when moving just because it had a lot of value, both emotional and financial. I wanted to give jewellery an extra function so that you would be able to wear a sense of home. My designs intermediate between the territory of portable objects and adornment. By rethinking the notion of wearability I was able to create a necklace that carries an apple or a plant, but also is a necklace that turns into a bag. At the moment I am working on a chair necklace.
SF: What’s next for you?
JQ: I am showing at Top Drawer in January with a new section called Fashion First. This will be my first big trade fair. Hopefully I will be exhibiting at Milan Design Week in April with a bit more focus on my interior installations. I am creating test pieces at the moment.
SF: What are you expecting from showing at the Barbican with DJG?
JQ: It is a great opportunity to show my work to a new audience again. The Barbican Centre is a very vibrant venue that attracts a wide public. My work is quite niche and it is somewhat difficult to figure out who my customer is. It will be interesting to see who dares to wear my pieces!
SF: One third of our DJG members are originally from countries outside the U.K. This mix of backgrounds and cultures is unintentionally reflected in our selection of outstanding graduates. It is interesting to learn just what has attracted these graduates to study in the U.K.
JQ: My main reason to come to the U.K. was the Royal College of Art and because London is such a culturally buzzing and interesting place to live. I never intended to actually stay in London, but when I decided to start my own creative business, doing this in London was an obvious choice. I got the opportunity of being part of the Hothouse 4 program with the Crafts Council after graduating and this set things in motion. I feel that In England, and especially in London, there is a lot of support available for young creative entrepreneurs. The competition in London is great and there are so many amazing designers, but it’s just that aspect which makes me want to work hard and push forward.
You can see and buy Jelka’s jewellery at the Designer Jewellers Group stand in the Barbican, London, now until 27th December.