The story behind Jakhu Studio is a story of two family relatives bounded by a mutual passion for life, art and craftsmanship. Founded under the principles of ethical fashion, Maria and Jesús intend to promote the value of Peruvian’s ancestral silversmithing techniques by creating a bridge between tradition and contemporary culture. Today we talk with their founders about the importance of heritage, working with relatives, and the transcendence of jewellery beyond adornment.
Who is the team behind Jakhu Studio?
We are Jesús and Maria, uncle and niece, who through our passion for arts, design, architecture and fashion decided to create Jakhu Studio. We have always inspired each other artistically and we finally found a way to express this strong connection. Jesús is an engineer but has always had the soul of an artist and Maria is a psychologist but overall an accessories and silver jewellery collector. Jesús works between Spain and Peru, where he has been collaborating hand in hand with local artisans since the 1990s creating designs, and Maria is based in London and focuses on the brand development.
Could you expand a bit on the birth of Jakhu Studio?
The brand started on our first trip together to Peru three years ago. We found an almost mystical silver ring in Lima, something we had never seen in ages. This beauty encounter triggered us to create this project. This trip was an exceptional opportunity to share our thoughts, time and knowledge, and the natural beauty of Peru combined with its extraordinary metalsmith and ancient heritage made it the perfect place to develop this initiative and to start collaborating with local artists.
Jakhu means “things of value or fondness” in a native language from the south of the Andes. Could you please tell us more about it? How did you get to know this language and how did you decide on this specific expression?
We worked on the brand name for a long time, trying to find something we felt could arise a sense of identity. As our project is strongly connected with Peru, we decided to explore the official languages of the country (Aymara and Quechua) as a way to venerate its culture. At the end of our research, Jakhu came out from the Aymara language and its beautiful sound along with its meaning was simply perfect.
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 16.jpg
How does its meaning translate into the jewels you create?
Through “things of value”, we understand that jewellery is not just a human adornment but a complex interaction between aesthetics and symbolism. For us, it is not a frivolous or vain item; instead, it is a meaningful object and, ultimately, it embodies a notion of protection in the way jewellery can act as an intermediary between humans and nature.
Also, the crafting process is made by artisanal jewellers from Peru. In what ways do they contribute to the final product that makes them so unique?
There are many reasons behind this decision. First of all, it is the connection and bridge with South America. Jesús has been travelling and collaborating there since the ‘90s and he lives between the continent and Spain. When in 2012 he invited Maria to a trip to Peru, she got in contact with the country’s cultural ancient heritage and simply fell in love with it. We were absolutely impressed by the rich knowledge of Peruvian’s craftsmanship and its extraordinary beauty; also, the masterful manufacture is impressive. Their exceptional skills, inherited from their ancestors and the legacy from their past generations, makes it worth preserving Peruvian’s craft sector.
In fact, the ancestral skills of Peruvian silversmithing are actively maintained in Peru to this day (Pre-Columbian civilizations were technically advanced in metalsmith) and the jewellery is still made by artisanal processes using old techniques and high-quality precious metal (Peru is one of the first silver producers in the world). Therefore, silversmith is still part of the culture and it provides a link to their roots. The country's long history and its modern age intertwine in a fascinating way with contemporary silver art.
The 0011 Collection is inspired by “simple and primal forms”, as you state, being the focus on geometric lines and an overall minimalistic aesthetic, as well as the relationship with nature. What was the starting point or the main inspiration, and how did it evolve to the final products we see?
Our main source of inspiration comes from minimalism and the wabi-sabi philosophy combined with the power and beauty of nature. This is what our lifestyle is about. We do not like excesses or over-complicated things. We travel and we try to make our lives as simple as possible with minimal spaces and objects. We believe that less is more and small details have a lot to say.
Combined with it is our passion for art and architecture: from the creations of Carlo Scarpa or Luis Barragán to the forms of Carl Andre, Eduardo Chillida or Isamu Noguchi. We highlight the natural simplicity through a sleek and geometric design to create functional and sculptural objects. The final pieces are inevitably a reflection of our philosophy. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
“We understand that jewellery is not just a human adornment but a complex interaction between aesthetics and symbolism.”
This is your first collection, so it must have been a difficult but a very exciting experience. Can you tell us more about the creative process behind it and the obstacles you have found in your path?
Like everything in life, success is a matter of time, effort and passion. I would say the hardest part has been finding the people who were willing to embark in this project. It took us almost a year to find the right artisans and the creative minds that spoke the same visual language as us. As Pablo Picasso said, “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else”; all the obstacles we found during the experience have helped us learn and move forward towards our next collection.
What differentiates your brand from other independent jewellers?
Distinctiveness. One of our fortes is the handcraft element and the usage of Peruvian silver 950. Our pieces have a white matte tone and an irregular natural finish. Jakhu does not use any jewellery-polishing machine with chemicals; all the process is completely made by hand by expert artisans.
How do you see the slow and ethical fashion going for jewellery makers?
People will always buy jewellery and accessories but we hope for a more conscious turn and thoughtful choices, valuing the things we consume and own with an environmental and social inclination. The rise of ethical consumers is steering the industry in a more ethical direction. There is a steady growth of interest in slow fashion despite how technology infiltrates every aspect of our lives. The appreciation of traditional techniques and crafts is an upward trend, and it is the new face of fashion all over the world.
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 5.jpg
Which kind of people are you expecting to see wearing your jewellery? How do you plan to sell your items?
All kinds of people, as a reflection of the diversity we embrace. We want to spread the love for craftsmanship, design and the appreciation for high-quality materials and things of value. We are planning to distribute our jewellery in some concept stores, in our showroom in East London as well as in our upcoming online store.
If you could pick a female icon to wear your pieces, who would that be and what piece of the collection would she be wearing?
Adwoa Aboah with the hoop earrings, the three circles interconnected.
How about male jewellery?
Jakhu jewels have no gender. Our design is neutral and genderless and we are going to keep it like that by working on simple and structural forms to create conceptual and minimal jewellery that anyone can wear.
Now that you’ve launched your first collection, what are the next steps? What are your plans for the near future?
The next big step involves visibility and hard work. This never ends! But we are already in the process of creation of our next collection.
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 3.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 2.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 4.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 15.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 6.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 12.jpg
Jakh U3.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 14.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 10.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 11.jpg
Jakhu Studio Metalmagazine 18.jpg