I recently stumbled across an interesting contest, sponsored by JCK, that illustrates the issues all jewelry designers, including pearl and bead stringers, must wrestle with every day.
Those issues are design and whether your tools are adequate for executing the design concept.
JCK selected five up and coming jewelry designers who were presented with “Passion Topaz,” a pastel colored line of stones by Swarovski, and challenged to come up with designs using those stones.
The contestants were given seven weeks to complete the challenge and early in the design development stage were provided with a consultation with a design expert from the New York Fashion Institute of Technology.
Every month, JCK releases a short video on the progress of the designers. So far, seven videos have been released, enough to give viewers a sense of each designer and his or her inspiration sources.
And, this is where it gets interesting. What are the design sources? Are they compatible with the stones? Are ideas original or derivative?
Here is a very brief run-down of each contestant and their designs.
- The first contestant, Nina Basharova who studied in the Ukraine and Israel, developed two designs. One incorporated barbed wire and one used the stones themselves as the key design component. The barbed wire design appears to have been an extension of an earlier design concept and was challenged by the tough FIT critic. Basharova accepted the criticism and focused on the second design which evolved from a ring to a pendant.
- A second designer, Michael Bruder, a former engineer, named his company “Corrupt Designs” to reflect his interest in marrying art deco and art nouveau. These styles, at least to my eye, are entirely incompatible and the design he offered reflected this. Moreover, it’s my experience that while gimmicks like this may be (somewhat) interesting in the short term, they’ve no staying power.
- Walter Adler Chefitz describes his work as a marriage of “fine jewelry and tribal designs.” However, his entry appears to focus on the color as his major interest and his design incorporates the stones in an interesting and optically challenging progression reminiscent of some of the modern art coming out of South America.
- Rosanne Pugliese got her start working at Calvin Klein and her work is modern, clean and minimal–and to my eye and perhaps wrongly–secondary to clothes. In this respect the design is a major challenge as it forces her to focus on the stones, not chain which appears to be a major interest of hers.
- Alex Woo is a young designer who has made an impact with small icons, personal statements in jewelry. However, her design takes its inspiration from lanterns. And, this ability to take inspiration from objects seen in the world around her and translate them into what appears to be a coherent and personal design is what most interests me.
You can decide for yourself which, if any, of these designers are true artists. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that JCK is oriented toward the commercial jeweler and the eventual designs may reflect this priority. Finally, the contest evolves, it may be interesting to see how self-aware each of the designers are in the sense that they are able to describe their ideas and the inspiration for them.
The tapes are short, almost irritatingly so. However, they do provide a glimpse into the way jewelry designers grapple with inspiration sources and project execution.