'Sorry about the mess' was how we were greeted by jewellery designer and maker Noemi Klein
n on a recent visit to her studio, 'I can tidy it up if you like?!' Far from messy, her studio is full of visual inspiration, from the neatly stacked bead boxes, to the small organised piles of cast silver components laid out of her bench. Her simple, yet beautifully considered forms are all hand-made and the result of a constant stream of subconsciousness, memories of her home in Germany and her surroundings. Stocked in several boutiques worldwide, with collaborations with tattoo' artists to food designers under her belt and with the imminent launch of her online shop we caught up with her to find out more about the importance of her craft. You grew up in the countryside in Germany before moving London. There are strong references to nature in your jewellery, does London inspire your work too?
You can see my background in my work and living in a city makes me remember it. I am no longer surrounded by the countyside so I am not seeing and touching it on a regular basis. Living in London allows me to look at it from a distance, so nature is portrayed in an abstracted way. The first pieces I made were centred around organic details of the branch and other things connected to the forrest such as bird feathers and skulls. This is a theme I have continued to update in my work. Surface texture, anatomy, architectural and mathematical shapes are other strands have been added in.You describe your jewellery as 'a modern take on decorative art'tell us more about that?
It is to do with the way I go about designing each piece. I make them as I go along which is good as it means I always have new work which is constantly evolving. I make objects or wearable sculptures rather than trend related throw-away fashion. It's an artisan process with many stages. Its a question of carving, casting and building up elements to create the final piece. The idea of craftsmanship is very much part of the story and something I have included into my latest lookbook.What is your educational background and how did you get into making jewellery?
I moved to London to study english literature and started making jewellery as a hobby. I used beads and collected objects to create simple pieces. I set up a market stall which was a great way to make money whilst I was student. My dad was a dentist and gave me one of his old drills which enabled me to work with metal. I became really interested in the materials and learning new techniques so I did a few specific short courses but have no formal degree.Did the literature inspire you? You talked about the story in your new lookbook, was that an afterthought or part of the process?
There is always a story to my aesthetic but its hard to put into words. Its about a person in their environment and the things that surround them. The lookbook is very much based around the idea of how I work. It's set in a studio full of tools and we deliberately crumpled the clothes the models are wearing so they look like they are my apprentices and in a way muses. I wanted them to be part of the process rather than just being a canvas for the jewellery. I like to create an abstract idea of darkness in my work so we toned down the mood and the lighting to mirror this.You mentioned you don't make trend related items but does fashion influence you at all - do you bring out seasonal collections?
I don't see a jacket and think i'll make a necklace to go with that but I will be inspired by a particular approach that comes out in other people's work. I often meet with a friend of mine that designs clothes and it might be a particular hem line that is frayed in a certain way that will inspire me and I will later try to recreate with chain. Music, exhibitions and art all inform my work but not directly. I go through phases but I can't pin point exactly what inspires each piece and I don't want to focus on what inspires what. For this reason I don't work seasonally, I don't want to just pick a theme for spring/summer; my work is constantly evolving which keeps the 'story' coherent. It is a problem because shops want to buy seasonally - they want to know whats coming out next.How would you best describe the people who buy and wear your jewellery?
I was asked recently if i make my jewellery with a particular person in mind and I don't. I look at it in terms of an object and then think about it on the body. I envisage how I would wear it and after that I don't really think about it, it takes on a life of its own after it leaves here. I'm always surprised because I expect people like me to love my work but my customers have been young teenagers, older women and men but their view of my work is always similar to mine.You have recently done a few collaborations, what do you most enjoy about that?
Working with other people introduces a totally different approach. The way I make jewellery is very hands on and I stick to a particular process. I am currently working with tattoo artist Liam Sparkes on a men's collection. We talk through ideas, concepts, emblems and images we like and he sits down and draws it over and over again. I then focus on the technical side of making the pieces which is a great challenge. Last Christmas I collaborated with Baker Lily Vanilli who is a food artist. We have a very similar aesthetic so we decided to host a party where I was showing my jewellery and she created food to compliment it. It was a huge success and such fun. Thank you to Noemi Klein for letting us have a nosey round her studio!
Words by Beanie Major. Images by Harry Cresswell. In Detail
23:40 - 16/01/12
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