I've had the pleasure of working with Jenny Sweetnam back when I was doing PR and have always admired her strong design aesthetic and making process. Alongside her talent, Jenny is also one of the most genuine and lovely people you will ever meet. Read below to find out a bit more about the designer and her work.
Tell us about your journey up to this point, how did you first get into making?
It's been an exciting and quite straight forward path because for as long as I can remember making has been the most important thing to me. Moving through the art school system through to being a professional maker has been an amazing experience.
Living between London and Bristol, and having worked in Edinburgh and Berlin, what made you decide to base the collection here in London?
London is the most amazing platform for exploring being a jewellery designer and pushing my ideas! I don't believe creativity is rooted to any place at all, however the advantage of working somewhere like London is that the thrill and pace of the city motivates you to work hard and be authentic to your creativity.
I love that you don’t shy away from making scaled-up pieces that really show off the craftsmanship and design, but always offer your customer something a bit easier to wear that still makes a statement. What inspires you when designing new pieces?
Well my first love is to work on a very big jewellery scale. It just feels right and the shapes I love to explore seem to really come alive at this size! I can't stand throwaway fashion in principle and really value the idea of owning much less and only that what you love, this is why I get so much out of offering the more accessible pieces too. From a core concept perspective, my work is always an exploration of the body and how to capture some sort of unique angle on it through different forms.
Each piece is made by hand, by you, in studio. Can you run us through your typical making process? Perhaps for the Sufi hoops which you designed exclusively for us!
Well first of all its about deciding on and sorting out the materials. I choose to work in the highest quality so the base metal is always precious, either sterling silver or solid gold. I have a pattern, a bit like a recipe, where I can remember the the amount of metal needed and the dimensions.
For the Sufi hoops I work with a certain length of metal which, after firing until its red hot so it becomes malleable, is wrapped around into its final form. The soldering ("melting on") of the earring post is the next stage. Finally its all about refining the surface into my signature bold matte style. This final stage is done by hand so I can have full control of the finish. Its a really beautiful process seeing quite raw metal change into a refined form!
In the few years I have known you I have really admired how you have always worked at your own pace and have not fallen into the fast-paced fashion fold. How do you think this has positively affected your brand and work?
I think that being a designer you naturally have extremely creative times when ideas and processes are tumbling together and these are brilliant rewarding moments. However, there are equally important quiet and less productive times when it's good to reflect and enjoy what you have accomplished.
Hopefully working at my own pace means that when I do present a new collection it has some soul to it. It also means that I never have to compromise on the quality of craftmanship or design. I just love the feeling of doing things my own way...
Lastly, huge congratulations on the Wallpaper magazine Design Award!
Thanks Rena! I'm so happy to have received the award because I have so much respect for Wallpaper as an organisation and their understanding of art and design. Being recognised by them is such an honour and confidence boost.
Above: Jenny's piece for which she won the Wallpaper Design Award
All other photos were taken by Dunja Opalko
See our selection of Jenny Sweetnam's work here