A brainchild of Sophia Rotas, the Hungarian brand Daemon Concept offers recycled silver jewellery pieces that combine biology and technology and seek to redefine the idea of modern adornment. Daemon’s jewellery borders on the bizarre, “natural beyond nature.” Sculptural septums, mouth guards and earrings often swerve into clawing silver branches that appear to have danced out of a science fiction movie. Rotas’ works - meant to be worn - pushes the concept of avant-garde adornment into the everyday. However, the effect the jewellery creates when not worn is closer to a work of a sculptor than a silversmith.
The brand is on a kind of forked path, with one road leading to exploring jewellery as an art form and the other leading to establishing a community around the brand. “Daemon Concept is very much about the misfits having the last word and building this imaginary city with its own rules,” Rotas says. “I seek out people who are unapologetically themselves.” In an interview with METAL, Rotas talks about hybrid technologies, sci-fi writers and an upcoming collaboration with Yves Tumor.
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In Greek mythology, "daemon" refers to "a divinity or supernatural being of a nature between gods and humans." But also, in multitasking computer operating systems, the word is used to describe "a computer program that runs as a background process, rather than being under the direct control of an interactive user." How do you apply these (visually or conceptually) to the brand, if at all?
Daemons were known as the messengers between deities and humanity. More than anything, it’s a protocol to put stakes less dependent on individual talent. The interconnected ideas, having the same thoughts at the same time in different places. These parallels that of course are more than easy to explain by having access to a digital river, and yet, even in total silence and distance, when we put pen to paper, in anything we draw there are centuries of longing instilled, that strangely doesn’t feel like ours.
Recent projects have been about bridging digital art towards physical pieces - to see what is possible with hybrid technologies of hand drawings to software to 3D printing to hand finished high details work. And it’s also created a momentum for people looking for self expression via reimagining face jewellery in absolute new ways. There is this Renaissance of continuous learning, and in the end it’s all for that evolution.
Daemon has been referred to as the jewellery brand for Europe's DIY rave scene. Was that the intention initially?
The rave scene was the closest to any institution ever to permeate my life with emotions. And the designs I typically create have several subtle subcultural codes, from punk, goth or cyber goth, gaming and so on. But also extremely personal semiotic language that we develop together with each artist. This is why the work became so vernacular to album artworks or music videos on many occasions.
You have said that creating "something that comes from the idea that we're living in the future" is more exciting than "recycling something from the past." What are some of the inspirations for your brand, though? Are there any past ideas of the future that inspire you?
That would be reading physicists like Richard Feynman's take on the relationship between beauty and science - “I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty.”
And sci-fi writers, for sure. J. G. Ballard, for example, pretty much predicted the existence of the internet in the 80s. Samuel R. Delany's books about language (Babel-17) suggest that the use of language and music modifies the spinal fluid in the human body. It's a full circle; symbols are reprogramming us to the core.
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Recycled silver is a predominant material in your designs. Could you tell us a bit about the sourcing processes of the material? And why silver?
Silver is endlessly recyclable, and I only care for two types of materials: the ones that are biodegradable and impermanent and then the deathless items that stay with you for a lifetime. And I do believe it's possible to work towards living a nearly zero waste everyday life. Silver is often called a Virgin Maiden because of its healing, purifying properties, and the ability for endless renewal. I like to think this perfectly conveys what I am on about.
You have pointed out that speaking to people can be a better education than any known source of knowledge. Aside from the knowledge you have gathered from your social life, can you tell us a bit about your formal education?
I have attended enough expensive art schools to know they are almost completely useless, at least to me.. You need to lose respect for the tools you are working with, only the final product matters - and you need to democratize processes as much as possible, even though good taste isn’t a democracy, the education for it should be.
Your mother is a textile designer, and your father is a scientist, and you have spoken about the arguments you had about the right and the left brain. There is a real sense of dichotomy in your designs which seamlessly unifies what are often perceived as polar opposites. Your designs come from the "conflict between art and science." How do you resolve the conflict when designing? Do you want to resolve this conflict at all?
I am pretty fond of numbers and also fluid, organic designs and what I try to create is a balance of unexpected things. During the European Renaissance, the roles of scientists and artists were often intertwined - I am always here to see hybrid categories emerge - that's why we often refer to our style as Dystopian Renaissance. I have promised myself I won't ever stop making things even in the darkest times.
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You have worked as a stylist in the music industry and continue to collaborate with musicians. If your jewellery was music, what would it sound like?
Probably the medley of Angel Haze, Lawrence English, Skunk Anansie, Charlotte Day Wilson, Blackhaine, Clipping, Slayyyter, DJ Assault and Eartheater peppered with Tanerélle, SZA and some breakcore.
What do you think is the perennial appeal of the intersection between technology and art?
Both celebrate the possibilities of life differently but are essentially interconnected, with a foundation in balance and symmetry. Art and technology have a complex, interwoven history and the fusion of the two and the friction between them has been the origin of many great things.
One of my upcoming collection drops is actually called Godlike Technology inspired by Edward O. Wilson. It is definitely a double-edged sword and not good or bad. I see metaphysical advancement catching up with technological advancements as the key to the survival of humankind. Art is so essential to us - we go through so much and spend so much time on survival. Some would say I am such a goth kid, but I never lose hope - and I think it's a bit unexpected that in the end, we still always work towards conveying a really optimistic message, even if it's wrapped up in metal spikes.
Even with all the self-doubt, I never doubt the significance of creating, and I really do believe this protects me somehow. It's like when you spin around if you don't want to get vertigo, you put your eyes on a fixed point, so you don't fall. It's also necessary to watch ever-unfolding human values when dealing with technology speeding up. Some of my values are probably a bit unorthodox, but hey, at least I have my code of morals, even if you see me as a villain.
There is a real sense of community around Daemon, as is visible in Juule Kay's 20-page feature The New Muses, published in Istanbul-based magazine Year Zero. What do you think sets the community behind Daemon apart from the communities that global brands try to foster around their luxury products?
Shoutout to Juule Kay for making that happen. She is the best. I think the part of it is that I see the brand more as a service or execution business and seek out personal connections with our community because we hype each other up. I think it's all happened because of the ability to see people for their potential and imagine these elevated, fantasy versions of them - and then bring it to life with great technical skill. Funnily I used to be bullied for being weird and was fighting a lot because of this (I'm afraid said teenage years never truly end ), so eventually, this helped me build work that is a counterpoint to everything I saw in the world. Daemon Concept is very much about the misfits having the last word and building this imaginary city with its own rules. I seek out people who are unapologetically themselves. And similarly to how Jim Jarmusch builds his characters, hopefully, people feel that I have very little judgment. Hence, it's easy to share very personal things. That's how the stories find us in the end.
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In the same interview, you have said that you "don't truly believe there are many real ends and beginnings in my world, only thresholds." What has been the most memorable threshold moment for Daemon?
I know the cost of bankrolling your own creative projects for decades, and I know what it is like to be told that you are delusional and never going to make it. So the most important thing is just finding people worldwide who are connected to what you do and building a community of supporters that validates the work. Shoutout to the World Wide Web for making me less isolated. Now we have this little renaissance expanding day by day.
I have seen lot of my favorite ideas meet with such response and everything futuristic as an aesthetics alongside gaming culture and hyper reality becoming a bit of a trend - this should have been great news but - I am also extremely vigilant with these things - perhaps a bit of a punk aversion against validation - because all this need to come with a set of practices in terms of structure and sustainability in fashion - see when I say it sounds like such a cliche even - but how can be something made to a cliche when it’s not even realized yet ? We don’t have a zero waste economy yet but it’s already fully boring to talk about it - same as we don’t have sentient androids but android hate crime is already a cliche allegory. Is it too much to ask to see the future unfolding not as an aesthetics movement - but a change in practices in the way we produce material things and how much we consume and what is of value. And I do have real validation for my ideas. It's a scary responsibility because, deep down, I feel, one individual can make many changes in this world single-handedly. And there are consequences, and there are ripple effects of everything we do now more than ever.
What does the immediate future hold for Daemon? And what does the ideal future hold for the brand?
Mapping out more of the emotional side of technology emerging around us and creating more complex worlds. I am so happy to say that it seems like our collaboration with Yves Tumor is coming to fruition. We have known each other for ages and somehow never been in sync with life situations up until now. We took our time, but I couldn't be more proud. What people have seen of them putting out into the world so far is just scratching the surface. They are such a rockstar, yet they are willing to be hands-on and study techniques when it comes to the process. It's pretty invincible when we add my obsessive attention to detail.
But of course, we are still really volatile, so you won't be able to predict what we will do until the last minute. And we will hopefully work with other artists and have even more resources, create technical wearables for contemporary dance and hopefully experiment with homeware just as a big fashion house would do - except building it up from the ground. I think we just need expressions with immediacy, and then we will be fine.
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