Intuitive, functional art and geometry inspired by Nature: Megan Collins Jewellery
A realm we have not ventured into, at MaterialDriven, till now. Perhaps owed to an unfamiliarity with its scale, jewellery has remained an unexplored territory for us.
Recently, though, the simplicity and elegance of a range of jewellery pieces broke down a barrier for us. The SUCCULENT collection, crafted by South African, London-based designer Megan Collins felt both easy to comprehend and appreciate. The relationship to its clean, nature-inspired shapes and forms, felt natural and intuitive.
Megan describes each of her pieces as "functional art", and that description seems like an excellent fit for the persona that they exude. Unlike the complex and static attraction that we experience with most jewellery pieces, the response here is quite like the reaction to a piece of art–an evolving, subtle interaction with something of beauty.
Megan's handmade jewellery is created from sterling silver, using sheet or wire as a starting point; and occasionally elements of gold, brass or oxidized components appear to create contrast. For her new SUCCULENT collection, and for much of her previous work, Collins draws inspiration from natural forms and her South African Heritage. The appeal of her pieces can be attributed to a reduction or simplification of these natural forms into soft geometric shapes and textures that are pleasing to the human eye and touch. The abstract forms still resonate with our attraction to nature, without replicating anything, nor being literal.
This year, Megan's brand–Megan Collins Jewellery–joins the designers of the Form&Seek collective, to showcase her work at the upcoming London Design Festival. Her SUCCULENT collection will be seen at the Form&Seek Pop-up Shop at BOXPARK, Shoreditch next week.
Just a week shy of that exhibit, MaterialDriven spoke with Megan and asked her about the process of design and making behind her new collection of works.
MD: Tell us a little bit about what you will be showing at the London Design Festival this year.
Megan: Most of the pieces I will be showing at this years’ London Design Festival come from my SUCCULENT collection. The idea behind each of these pieces was to look at the natural environment, specifically succulent plants and simplify these shapes down to their core essence, to create pieces of jewellery that speak of these forms, yet are not direct recreations of what I have seen.
MD: How does your work respond to the broader Form&Seek theme of 'De-Construct/Re-Construct' this year?
Megan: The process of designing and creating each piece in my SUCCULENT collection involved the deconstruction and breaking down of plants themselves, to find their purest forms. I worked initially with drawings to simplify the shapes, and then moved onto 'card' as a material, cutting and shaping each element till I settled on designs that held their own space and echoed the essence I wanted to capture.
MD: What are the primary materials and techniques you employ in your work? How do you move from design to final production?
Megan: I make each piece of jewellery myself, by hand, in my East London studio. I most often begin by using sheet metal or wire as a starting point, and then cut and file the elements to shape. For the folded pieces such as Lea, Kia, and Shaviana, I then score the metal along lines that will later be folded. This has to be done with great care, to ensure a crisp line in the finished piece. These lines are then folded and soldered to restore the metal's integrity. Then each piece is filed, sanded and polished, or gold plated to get the required finish.
Other pieces such as the Arc necklace require the use of a ball peen hammer to create a more textured finish.
MD: Where does the conceptual and material inspirations for the SUCCULENTS collection come from?
Megan: The initial inspiration for this collection came from the idea of reconnecting with my homeland–South Africa, which in turn lead me to the idea of investigating succulent plants.
At the time of designing this collection, I had been living in London for a year and a half and was feeling the excitement and creative buzz of being in a big city. However, I was also feeling the need to bring the focus back to my roots and simultaneously back to all of our roots–our interconnection with the natural environment.
With regards to the materials I chose to use, I felt that the use of sterling silver made for a sturdy structure to the clean shapes I was trying to create. I chose to incorporate a brushed finish on some of the pieces to give warmth and subtlety to the design. The oxidized and polished surfaces work together to create points of interest and contrast, as you would experience in any natural object. Ideas that came to mind were–highlighting the imperfections of a leaf and celebrating the process of growth and decay central to life on earth.
MD: What reaction to this collection of jewellery are you anticipating (and hoping for) from visitors at the London Design Festival?
Megan: I don't know what reaction people will have to my jewellery at the London Design Festival; however, I am hoping for people to connect personally with my jewellery and feel excited and inspired by what they see.
MD: Thank you, Megan. Your design and way of making are both beautiful; thank you for sharing with us these glimpses of your work. We wish you the very best for the festival!