Harriet Rose Knight

In the final blog post of this series, DJG member Jo McAllister interviews new designer Harriet Rose Knight.

Harriet Knight

JM: What made you decide to become a jeweller and where did you train?

HRK: I’ve always loved making things. When I was 12, I made my first silver twisted ring at a craft fair workshop and haven’t stopped making jewellery since then. As a schoolgirl, I attended short holiday courses in Cornwall and evening classes in Bath. In June 2014, I graduated from The School of Jewellery, Birmingham with a degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing.

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JM: Describe where you do most of your creative work.

HRK: I design anywhere and everywhere. I always have a notebook at the ready for those light bulb moments, sketching what I see or little diagrams of how to assemble a piece. I then develop and refine on my little scribbles, working on my computer in the quiet comfort of home. I am currently an Artist in Residence at The School of Jewellery in Birmingham, where I like to finish, dye and assemble all my pieces within the hustle and bustle of a busy workshop.

HRK-WORK SPACES

JM: What are you currently working on?

HRK: I am developing a whole brand new wooden range of jewellery which I am excited to be bringing out in the New Year. But I am also still developing and promoting my graduate collection. I’m introducing new colour combinations and pieces to the range such as drop earrings and pendants. As well as this, I am also a member of the Continued. Collective which will be exhibiting internationally next year. I am creating a special one-off piece for that.

HRK-MAKING PROCESS

JM: What are the key themes in your work?

HRK: My graduate collection is entitled ‘A Portrayal of Composure’. It captures the silent concealment of anxiety, through combining a quiet controlled oval exterior, with layers of intricate restrictive grid work. For me it visually describes the escalation and constrained, trapped feeling of fear, emulated through layering and precision cut caged designs. This raw emotion however is disguised through gentle curves, accurate intricacy and a muted colour palette forming a quiet, calm and reflective aesthetic deceiving the viewer. Within each piece, differing stages of portrayal are depicted through the breakdown of grid work.

HRK-BANGLE DESIGN

JM: What would you like people to notice about your work?

HRK: I am always drawn to and take pride in creating pieces with subtle intricate details that are seen when you take the time to look closely. For example within my current work, I will dye an individual layer up to 4 times to highlight the natural grain of the wood.

I am also a bit of a perfectionist which is translated through the control and engineered precision of my designs. I hope that people will feel drawn to the materials used and the blend of engineering and smooth lines in eye-catching, wearable pieces.

HRK-RING SKETCHES

JM: What attracts you to the material you work in?

HRK: As I mentioned previously, I love precision and to have control over my materials. Laser cutting allows me to gain this control, however why I specifically enjoy using wood, is that it balances this harsh exactness with a softness and a warmth of a natural material.

In the past I have used a lot of metal within my work, but wood is amazingly light, allowing me to explore thicker, bigger and more intricate designs that would be far too heavy in metal.

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JM: What is your favourite tool and why?

HRK: My little riveting hammer! Not only absolutely adorable in size, I couldn’t make my work without it.

HRK-RIVETING HAMMER

JM: Who and / or what inspires you?

HRK: Often within my work I use concepts not as a communication tool but as a design tool for myself. I feel that without a concept to direct my design journey, there are too many possibilities, too many outcomes to choose from and I find myself wanting to try them all. These concepts are from everyday life and issues that I feel strongly towards and range from anxiety, divorce and gender equality.

HRK-PIECES 1

JM: If you could collaborate with one artist, designer or maker, from any time, who would it be and why?

HRK: I think it would be wonderful to collaborate with Lara Jensen who an incredible milliner, creating pieces for catwalk, TV, film and advertising. Her pieces are daring, expressive and always different. I feel that my conceptual influences and light wood material could be transferred into something really bold and dramatic.

 

Harriet’s work will be on view and for sale in the Designer Jewellers Group pop up shop in the Barbican until 27th December (closed 24th- 26th December).

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Esme Parsons

DJG member Jane Moore interviews new designer Esme Parsons about her work.

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Jane Moore and Esme Parsons at the Barbican Centre

JM: Esme, what has been your inspiration with this collection?

EP: I am inspired by urban city landscapes, modernist and brutalist buildings, graffiti, road markings etc. I like to take inspiration from the urban landscape that otherwise people would ignore. I can often be inspired by barbed wire or scaffolding.

JM: How do you approach the making process?

EP: I take many photos, sketch quick line drawings and make paper and card models until I am happy with the construction. I then start building the forms in silver.

JM: What other materials do you use?

EP: I prefer to work in silver because it enables me to enamel the pieces in bright opaque colours. Sifting gives me a spray effect which replicates the effects of graffiti.

JM: Have you always worked with enamel?

EP: During my first year at UCA (University for the Creative Arts) Rochester on my silversmithing and goldsmithing  course we had the good fortune to be taught enamelling by Louise O’Neill. I found her to be extremely inspiring.

I experimented and played with traditional enamelling techniques until again we had the very inspiring enameller Jessica Turrell to teach us on a short course.

JM: Do you spend much time testing enamel colours?

EP: I have my favourites but am always open to trying out new colours and I experiment with different size meshes until I am happy with the effects and results.

JM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

EP: I would very much like to exhibit abroad such as SOFA in the USA. Presently I am an artist in residence at Edinburgh University. I have access to all the facilities at the University and also space to work alongside teaching and helping the first and second year B.A. Students.

Having worked with these students I have realised that I would like to teach on a more permanent basis. I would also consider doing a Masters degree in the future but first I would like to consolidate my current work to see where it takes me.

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Esme’s work is on display and for sale in the Designer Jewellers Group pop-up shop in the Barbican Centre, London, now until 27th December 2014.

Mireia Rossell

DJG member Ute Sanne interviews new designer Mireia Rossell about her work.

Mireia Rossell at OYO (8 of 26)

US: Mireia your approach to jewellery making is very distinctive and, in my experience, unique. How did you arrive at this?

MR: My intention is to promote play. I play with my prototypes for hours and get inspiration for developments or entirely new concepts from my interaction with them. I love to think that the user would similarly be able to gain inspiration from my pieces and enjoy interacting with them as much as I do. It is through manipulation that the pieces come alive.

The flexibility of the materials, after I have processed them, inspired me to make the pieces that they create flexible in design. This means the bracelet can become a necklace or a pendant, the ring can be worn in different forms, as a pendant and by a wide range of ring sizes.

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My transition from a commercial designer working for several large jewellery companies to producing work to my own brief, with freedom, is recent. I feel that this sense of liberation comes across in my work. I found a lot of the commercial projects I worked on bland: I always thought jewellery should be more interactive and playful.

US: Which came first, the abstract idea or was it through playing and experimenting with certain materials?

MR: It was definitely though play. After designing FLAT PACK-jewellery (plastic pieces which come flat and are given volume through the wearers choices in twists and folds) I began thinking about using more traditional jewellery materials. Speaking to people about the work I came to better understand the innate value attributed to precious metals and how that could be successful in a collection. The challenge was getting these metals to behave as I wanted! It took a great deal of work to perfect the technique I have now developed.

US: What are the practical considerations you have encountered in the manufacture of the Lissom collection?

MR: I make all the pieces by hand, myself. It is a time-consuming process but I am gradually getting faster! The greatest challenge was to get silver and gold to be highly flexible, and strong, especially after soldering them.

US: Which is your favourite material to work with?

MR: I have been surprised by how much I have enjoyed my return to working with silver and gold. I would not say I have a specific preference for one material as they have such different design potential, the exploration of which is key to my work. I often start with the material and work to find out what it’s qualities are, and what they offer me in terms of design.

Thank you Mireia, the exceptional quality of your work has been reflected in the enthusiastic reaction to it by our Barbican visitors!

Mireia’s work (which we first saw at the New Designers show, as shown in this film) can now be seen and bought from the Designer Jewellers Group pop-up shop in the Barbican Centre.

Mirka Janeckova

DJG member Petra Bishai interviews new designer Mirka Janeckova, who is exhibiting with us now at the Barbican Centre.

PB: Your work has an organic, freeform and sea-like quality. Where does your inspiration come from?

MJ: I wanted to create a unique style of work and I spent a lot of time considering how to achieve this. I decided rather than looking at objects that already existed to look at internal sources of inspiration.

I was drawn to Surrealism and their methodology. In particular they used techniques such as automatic drawing and collage to inspire their work. Through my research I created my own version of automatic drawing. 

PB: What is automatic drawing and how do yourself prepare for it?

MJ: I cut myself off from outside influences and draw what comes into my head. It’s like a stream of consciousness and actually quite a natural state for me.

Sometimes I have some random sketches or a photograph that I use as my starting point. I see shapes in my mind and translate them into drawings. For my materials I use dark papers with white watercolours and pencils. I know that my thoughts are not completely cut off from outside ideas but what I’m trying to do is to avoid any direct influences.

PB: When does your conscious mind come into your creative process?

MJ: When I move into my design process and look at technical issues. For instance the decision to use porcelain and silver was a deliberate one.

PB: How have your drawings changed since you started automatic drawing in 2013?

MJ: They have always been organic. People, just as you have done, often comment on the drawings being marine-like but for me the drawings are not related to this although all life comes from the sea.

Mirka Janeckova automatic drawing
Automatic drawing

PB: Coming from a land locked country, The Czech Republic, do you think you have an internal longing for the sea?

MJ: Yes for me there was always a magical notion of the sea and it was a symbol of freedom. I didn’t experience the sea until I was twenty. Maybe that’s why I have chosen to live on an island for the past eight years!

Mirka Janeckova jewellery
Mirka Janeckova collection in porcelain and silver

In order to explain her process Mirka brought along the tools of her trade and invited Catherine Hendy and me to try out automatic drawing. Both of us felt quite nervous about the experience and wondered what our drawings may reveal. We both chose to use sheets upon which Mirka had already placed some random marks. It took a while to get into the process but we did enjoy trying it out and in the end I didn’t want to stop, it was almost addictive. Here are the results of our first trial.

I love Mirka’s forms and her use of materials. In the future she plans to work with opaqueness and use light with the porcelain, which I am really looking forward to seeing. 

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Mirka Janeckova brooches. Photo: Pavel Dousek
Portfolio Mirka Janeckova
Mirka Janeckova rings. Photo: Pavel Dousek

Jelka Quintelier, Black Lune

DJG member Shelby Fitzpatrick interviews new designer Jelka Quintelier, of ‘Black Lune‘.

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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.

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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.