Wearable art finds itself at the intersection of jewellery and fashion design and collectible design. First developing in the 1930s and growing throughout the 1960s and 1970s as the “wearable art movement”, it has featured avant garde clothing, jewellery, headwear, and footwear and champions strong artistic statements. Most often handmade, these pieces emphasise the craftsmanship of the maker alongside a unique artistic aesthetic that separates them from the mainstream fashion world. They offer a challenge to our understanding of what design is and encourage us to expand our vision of fine art, craft, and jewellery or fashion. As pieces designed to be used and worn, wearable art becomes another means of creative expression – one which merges individual style with collectible design.
Through their practices, the designers presented below bridge the gap between jewellery and fashion design and collectible design, creating bold and out of the ordinary examples of wearable art. From Safeefah woven gold, to 3D printed silver dust, to core-drilled Pietersite stone, they highlight the materials and craftsmanship used to develop each piece. They offer a unique, intimate experience of the tactility of a material and form, as well as the masterful techniques used to create them.
Adrikorn Artefacts, “Hoof 3” Headwear
“Hoof 3” is a unisex headwear model created as a part of a 3-piece headwear collection, “Hello ODD”, in 2018. The collection focuses on recognisable headwear shapes that accentuate authority – bringing them into the everyday world to be worn and empower the wearer.
Alia Bin Omair, “Sawy – Perfume Bottle Pendant”
Created as part of Irthi’s “Design Labs” initiative, UAE-based jewellery designer Alia Bin Omair elevates the production of Safeefah weaves into wearable elements by implementing an additional step to the process: casting the weaves in gold. The nimble fingers of the artisans from the Bidwa Social Development Programme have combined their knowledge of Emirati Safeefah weaving techniques with Alia’s designs to produce a collection of necklaces, rings, earrings, and wearable perfume bottles.
Darja Popolitova, “Save As…” Collection
Part of the “Save As…” collection, a series of 3D printed rings which modifies and distorts digital ready-mades to interpret the current cultural situation of the Internet and digital technologies. They make reference to the ready-mades used by the Dadaists of the early twentieth century, shifting the context to a digital and contemporary jewellery art focus.
Jelizaveta Suska, “Rebirth 3” Necklace
Amber is usually valued by its size, colour, and inclusions. In her practice, Jelizaveta Suska aims to destroy this familiar perception and its accepted value by sewing, dyeing, and ignoring its inclusions; stepping away from what we have seen so many times before. 14-karat gold is combined with amber fibre cord to hold the pendant below, a process developed by Suska during her time at Riga Technical University.
Jennifer Zurick, “Safeefah Tote”
For their “Design Labs” initiative, Irthi collaborated with American designer Jennifer Zurick, a Smithsonian Museum acquired artist and Loewe craft prize commissioned craft artist, to combine Safeefah and other weaving techniques to create a collection of sculptural hand bags using braided camel leather. Working with artisans from the Bidwa Social Development Programme, these bags celebrate the the traditional weave technique, adding another dimension to the use of the practice.
Rodete, “Burder” Necklace
From the “Ánima” collection where the designer experimented with diverse materials and concepts that came from Mexican surrealism, micro-organisms, botanics, and old-school sci-fi with “La Planète Sauvage” from Renée Laloux’s vibes. The “Burder” necklace is inspired by feminine and organic shapes, offering a bold form to those who appreciate unique jewellery.
Studio DŌ, “Gemma ex Lapide” Petersite Earrings
The “Gemma ex Lapide” Petersite Earrings explore the core relationship between stones and jewellery, while also bridging between body and space. Studio DŌ works with stones in an experimental way, focussing on the unique elements each stone possesses, while also reflecting on the origin of (gem)stones in jewellery. In this way, “Gemma ex Lapide” works both as a wearable and a sculptural piece.