If the next few months are any indication as to the future of lua lua and Justyna Niewiara’s designs, things are falling nicely into place. The jewelry line launched in 2005 to international praise. And just four years later, Niewiara has found herself commissioned for three separate retrospectives, all spanning some combination of the same February-June 2009 timeline. So yes, the artist is decidedly a multitasker, too.
Attesting to her knack for doing several things at once, Justyna kindly took some time to answer some questions for our readers — about her jewelry collections, her upcoming exhibits, and how she likes to spend her down time — while en route from Paris back to her home in London.
Now onto the good stuff — the interview . . .
the function key: You’re currently involved with three different exhibitions (in some cases you’ve been commissioned to create a special collection of jewelry), how does it feel to be validated by such prestigious institutions as the Tate Modern? Can you tell me a little bit about these projects?
Justyna Niewiara:It is an unbelievable coincidence and so exciting to have my jewellery simultaneously in three different museums in London at the same time. Tate Modern has commissioned lua lua to design a special collection of jewellery for the exhibition “Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism.” I have always loved the constructivist understanding of form and colour, so I was very happy when the Tate invited me to design a collection. I had a look at the works that were going to be in the exhibition and came up with some designs that I felt had an affinity with the constructivist aesthetic. At the same time the Barbican Art Gallery approached me as they wanted to show a selection of my designs in conjunction with their show, “Le Corbusier — The Art of Architecture.” Finally the Royal Academy of Arts commissioned me to design a beautiful bluish pendant for their exhibition “Kuniyoshi.”
the function key: How did you decide that designing jewelry was it for you? Did you ever consider other mediums? Do you think you’ll one day expand to other mediums?
Justyna Niewiara: I wanted to design jewellery for a very long time, but I have only pursued it since I started living in London — almost ten years ago now. My original background in history of art was a perfect match as it gave me a different approach to making jewellery from other designers. In the process of experimenting and learning how to design jewellery, I got attracted to perspex and silver as I feel that they are the perfect medium to reflect my ideas and designs. I still do work occasionally with other materials which I value for the purity and beauty of their colours, like brass or copper. I am always researching other materials that can help me to develop my ideas further and cross the boundaries of jewellery. Already for my next Enigma Collection I am adding a third component to perspex and silver, which I am very excited about.
the function key: I recently received one of your bangles (I love it!), can you tell me about their construction process? They’re made of plastic but seem to be cut in a way that makes the edges “glow” when hit by light (or maybe this is just because my bangle is day-glow yellow).
Justyna Niewiara: This bangle from the Molecule collection glows during the day and night as it is made from a fluorescent perspex that catches the light on its edges, creating a beautiful effect. It is a wonderful quality that the fluorescent coloured perspex offers and which I am continuing to explore in my work.
the function key: Where do you get your inspiration? And does your inspiration affect how you name each collection? Is it connected?
Justyna Niewiara: When I have an idea and I start working on a collection, the name is somehow communicated to me through the shapes, form and overall design of the jewellery. I always try to achieve a coherent sense of unity both in terms of concept and design within each collection. The naming of each collection often comes about through a direct response to the forms or ideas that I have explored through each individual piece that also exists in the collection as a whole. Some of my recent collections have been in response to art, fashion, music, and even chemistry and physics.
the function key: Do you follow fashion? Who are some of your favorite designers? If you could be chosen by a fashion designer to accessorize their collection for a runway show, who would it be? Why?
Justyna Niewiara: I follow fashion as I am interested to know what is happening out there. I would love to collaborate with Hussein Chalayan and Martin Margiela, as I like their unconventional approaches to form and how they push the boundaries of design, expanding it far beyond fashion into realms that span many different creative disciplines.
the function key:The world has become a very technology-centric place. Do you read blogs? If so, which are your favorites? Do you keep one yourself? Do you think blogs have helped in promoting your designs?
Justyna Niewiara: I occasionally read blogs, but usually I have very little time surfing on the Internet as I prefer to spend time at my studio, but I have lots of friends who send me great links from time to time. I do not have a blog at the moment, but I am strongly considering it as they are fantastic.
the function key:Records, CDs, or iPod? What are you currently listening to on repeat?
Justyna Niewiara: I am really enjoying listening to a brilliant Georgian singer called Hamlet Gonshavili who has the most mesmeric vocal range. A little bit of early Lee Scratch Perry is always welcome.
the function key: When you’re not designing jewelery, you can be found ___________?
Justyna Niewiara: Strolling on the beach in Lamu.
Thank you to Justyna Niewiara and to Alicja Braid for considering the function key. We look forward to working with you again!