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In conversation with Maria Black

"Designing jewellery is like writing a diary in small sculptures"

Interview by Henriette Noermark
Photography by Ruby Woodhouse

FKA Twigs was on the mood board for the new Maria Black collection, as Maria loves her urban looks, as well as badass yet feminine attitude. Every time she finished a piece, she imagined the English singer-song- writer wearing it, and if it did not suit her, it did not make the cut. Not compromising is one of Maria Black’s characteristics, and it shows in her new collection Disruption. Maria Black does not play by the rules, but follows her gut feeling, and is driven by the impossible. Striving to make intelligent jewellery that make people think, Maria Black has moved from being a silver apparel brand, into the exclusive and elusive world with fine jewellery - today her brand is sold all over the world in high-end stores. We asked Maria about Disruption, her philosophy, inspiration and future visions.

Tell us about your design style and the new collection Disruption?
MB: My designs are recognised by pushing boundaries. For Disruption I played around with a hollow tube to create some bigger pieces without all the weight. Strongly inspired by techniques used in piercing jewellery, I decided to try a system involving rubber to create a hoop that looks like it’s hooked into your ear. It looks so simple, but it was hard work developing.

What is your jewellery philosophy?
MB: I test and develop new techniques, and try to push boundaries of what jewellery can. The more impossible it seems, the more interest I have. First of all, it has to be relevant, and my jewellery philosophy is to keep evolving, not stagnate. The pieces have to speak to me, and convince me, they have a rightful place in this madness. My approach to design follows the different stages in my life. Designing jewellery is like writing a diary in small sculptures, and it is personal in the sense that, if you analyse the collec- tions, you will notice stages of joy, pain, confusion, love, hurt, ecstasy and laughter depending on my state of mind.

What is your studio like?
MB: I work in my Copenhagen-based studio with a great team surrounding me. They are the ones telling me everything will be all right, when I freak out - as thrilling as it is seeing your ideas materialise, a bit of neuroticism and self-doubt is part of the process, I guess. The first five minutes, I am extremely proud, the next I freak out. When I am alone in the studio I love listening to podcasts like This American Life. They tell rather ordinary stories from day-to-day lives in an extraordinary manner, which is clever and relevant. For the late night working sessions, proper pop music is on full blast, and my weakness for 90’s euro dance shows.

As a designer, where did you draw your inspiration behind Disruption and your previous collections?
MB: For this collection, it was FKA Twigs and Sade. David Bowie has been on my mood board more times than any other person; he is a constant source of inspiration. I realised recently that much inspiration is drawn from my late grandmother’s house. She had an epic taste, and I was influenced by triangle pyramids from her table lamp, and the circles that were on a book series on her shelf - my visual brain is the sum of everything I have seen and experienced, and it all started with her. The renowned jeweller Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe designs the best pieces of jewellery to me. Celine and Georg Jensen wouldn’t be where they are today without her, and she has my deepest respect. In addition, I love strong silhouettes, simple design, and I feel a strong connection to the simplicity in Japanese art and culture.

What are your favourite choices of materials, and how are they incorporated into the Maria Black pieces?
MB: I am fascinated by the carefree attitude of silver, and the sensual promise of gold. They make you feel so different, and are fantastic companions. I love to shape metals, and show how beautiful lines can be twisted in new and exciting directions, but recently, I introduced stones to the collection, and it’s a fling that will continue, I think. As long as it does not take all the attention from the metals, but adds to the look.

How does the future of jewellery look?
MB: I hope that the old traditions can morph together with the new technologies, to create something spectacular never seen before in the jewellery design world. I try to look to the future with a sound knowledge of the past to create something that is now. I have a dream team with me to revolutionise, how people feel about jewellery on a broader scale. We are striving to celebrate individuality and we will chal- lenge the norm by continuously pushing into new territories.

Recently, I introduced fine jewellery piercing to the collection, and it shares a natural kinship with me. The new piercing look is not about rebellion, but empowerment. The taboo of old has washed down the drain and todays piercing look is refined and carefully curated. With the piercing collection I wish to offer an exclusive ear piercing experience and versatile opportunity to get a personal and exciting look.

Jewellery stores, traditionally, either looks like a tacky flea market or an uptight museum, and it just doesn’t work with the vibe we want surrounded by the Maria Black brand, so we recently redesigned our Copenhagen flagship store - everything beautifully displayed so you can touch, feel, try it on and fall in love in a stylish, but unpretentious manner. Stop by!