Simone Brewster is a London-based designer. She began her training at the Bartlett School of Archiecture and later completed her MA Design Products at the Royal College of Art. Her pieces of jewelry, objects and furniture are the result of an interesting study between space, the body and the objects that occupy. Her jewelry has strong forms in large scales with the sobriety of her palette, accessories make a piece of high sophistication. “Jewellery is another type of sculpture for me, it’s art with a focus of the body”, Simone ahead of us. We talked to her about shapes and scales, about her last colection Flirt, the Flock collective which she is co-founder and her special vision into the design.
Studying and working in architecture gives you a strong foundation as a designer and artist. Your sensitivity to space, light and form are developed to a high degree. I was always described as intuitive so I would say that my jewellery and furniture are always influenced by my personal take on form and materiality. Our most influential architects are sculptors of space as well as form. I would say that when I make a piece of jewellery, furniture or an object, I approach it from the space it will inhabit and the atmosphere I want it to create. If I want a woman to feel powerful, then the space around her face should be framed by a certain form, this then becomes an earring for example.
I didn’t decide to get into fashion and accessories. I would say that I am a designer who has many creative outputs. Jewellery is one of them, it gives me the freedom to experiment and play on a different scale than a lounge or an interior environment would. These are also fields I actively design for. The quality of my work comes from me not closing off possibilities by labelling myself and my creativity as one thing, for one area. It also comes from listening to myself. My first collection of jewellery came from me responding to holding a raw piece of ebony in my hand and thinking about its value. The design itself was not a traditional jewellery approach, but was explored through furniture making, as this was the training I had at the time. I think that openness to creative cross pollination is what makes designing interesting and what feeds my visual language.
Personally, working across scales and discipline is quite natural. I ended up doing it because it made sense. I wanted to explore things at a different scale and that lead me from architecture, which is the scale of building down to jewellery, an object displayed on the body. Each discipline has its own challenges, a ring doesn’t need to be sat upon, so doesn’t need so much thought of forces and materials in the same way as a chair would demand. An object, can be a sculptural thing so may not be functional at all or have need to interact with the body, so here I find the most freedom for new ideas and artistic exploration. Jewellery is another type of sculpture for me, it’s art with a focus of the body.
I think the artist Austin Kleon has some words of truth in his book Steel like an artist. I think it’s easy to be evasive about our creative processes. Creativity is work, it’s research, it’s experimentation, it’s getting it wrong and trying to figure out your way of doing it right. It’s an every day thing. I think it’s also about being honest with yourself about what inspires you. We are all exposed to so much visual stimulation, inspiration comes from more than the visual, it comes from knowledge. Understanding why something looks the way it does, can be more important to your creativity than simply how it looks. I look at a lot of traditional ways of dress from many cultures across the word. I look at African sculpture, I look at film, I am engaged with politics. Politics have a lot to do with our visual languages as people, our personal style.
Flirt was looking at a process and a material. I was interested in the process of wood turning on a lathe, a traditional way of forming wood and metal. All of the voluminous bracelets and necklaces had the central element turned, with a brass centre. As well as this the brass centre brings a play of light on the skin. The circle captures light, which bounses of the skin.
I enjoy working with exotic woods, non-precious metals and leather. I like to create pieces that question our position on value so using these materials and creating something to be considered as precious is a welcome challenge. Saying this I am open to the use of most materials, it’s how I combine them to tell a different story that becomes interesting. If I use a traditional material such as silver.
The palette is somewhat dictated by the material. Natural materials harmonise with each other and allow for a focus on the process I wish to employ. I would have to agree with Yamamoto that black is a colour both “modest and arrogant at the same time,” saying this, I see the colour black as very strong and empowering, which is why it occurs as an accent in many of my collections.
There are so many artists and designers I have respect for, it extends well beyond jewellery designers to be admired. Giving reasons for all of them would be exhausting. Jamie Hayon for his dreams. Eileen Gray for her simplicity and elegance. Chris Ofili for his sense of humour and ability to translate a marginal view into a mainstream understanding. Naomi Filmer for bringing sculpture into jewellery and then taking it to the catwalk.
Flock was something I decided to initiate in 2010. I was surrounded by a wealth of female artists and designers that were somehow getting lost in the crowd and I wanted to create a platform that would allow me to showcases and collaborate with them. The London Design Festival provided the perfect stage for our events and since then I have been working with the other Flock co-founders to curate shows which highlight creative talent across art, architecture and design.
I had done a few projects with Bricollage founder and textile designer Yemi Awosile. She was familiar with my work and was organising an event to showcase London based designers in Paris with design shop Centre Commercial. She knew my Stepping Stools, which are designed as a mix between sculpture and large examples of jewellery. She felt it fit with the work of the other designers she would be showcasing so wanted it as part of the collection. It was a great showcase, all of the work looked amazing and was well received by the Paris audience.
I’m currently working on a few things. I will be doing a show in September called Bodies of Work, which is a collaboration with architect and fellow FLOCK co-founder Pernilla Ohrstedt. Here I will be presenting a new collection of jewellery and furniture. It’s an event that will straddle both London FashionWeek and London Design Festival so perfect for me to show my collection. The work itself is going to be more pared back and minimal. It will still showcase my signature use of form and material but decoration will become more austere. I don’t want to say too much about it until it’s out there for everyone to see. Besides this I am opening an extension of my business into an online shop. You will be able to get one off pieces and limited edition pieces that will not be available anywhere else, as well as some of my more popular work. I also have a few interiors to design for shops and boutiques in London. I will be applying my style to spatial environments for some people who want a unique touch that draws upon my expression of materiality and form. I’m looking forward to that as it will be utilising my architectural background in a direct way. Other than that I’m looking forward to Christmas.