Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Interview: Ros Millar

I first saw Ros Millar's jewellery at New Designers, an absolute treasure-trove of upcoming, just-graduated design talent. Next, she appeared as an entrant and later a top ten finalist in EC One's graduate jewellery design competition EC One Unsigned, meeting Ros in person at the Unsigned winner's party. Today, Ros is busy with a new collection, open studio days and is seeing ever-growing interest in her jewellery - most recently she was involved in City jeweller Little 15's evening of events for Vogue's Fashion Night In. I caught up with this lovely lass to find out more about her collections and future plans...

Three stacking rings from Ros' Growth Collection, set with natural brown diamonds

Your jewellery has a clear style to it, and I love that it's a step away from the cute, vintage-style of a lot of jewellery designers are doing. Tell me a little about your jewellery-making history and style...

I first studied jewellery at Ulster university for about a month during my foundation year and absolutely loved it... So I scrapped all my intentions of going to study Fashion and moved to Sheffield to study Metalwork and Jewellery. There I found the techniques which suited me best and were easy to work with - cuttlebone casting in particular. Taking this technique as a base I do most of my designing after. When I left university in 2009 I moved to London and started an internship with Melissa McArthur and then with Fannie Schiavoni, as well as freelance work. Finally I set up my studio and began to design for myself again.

Sounds brilliant, a great progression and some great designers to be working with. You're originally from Northern Ireland where you grew up and studied; do you think your work takes any influence from your early surroundings?
I grew up in a place called Bangor on the coast of Northern Ireland.  It's so beautiful... And I do believe that it does have influence on my designs - the fact that they are very organic!

Ros' Double Stud stacking rings

And how did you find studying in Sheffield, with its history of industry, engineering and the Yorkshire countryside so close by? 
I loved Sheffield, I really miss it.  I think that it was the perfect place to study and really concentrate on finding my design style.  In terms of the countryside - I am lucky that my current studio is based in the Essex countryside in a place called Felsted. Soon though I'll be embarking on a new studio in Greenwich where I will be moving in with two other designers (Emma Yeo and Rose Sharp Jones). I hope it will help being surrounded by other designers and being closer to Hatton Garden!
Your Growth Collection features stacking rings in silver, oxidised silver and rose gold - how do you make these rings?
All my pieces are cuttlebone cast at some point in the design process.  Once cast, I then decide which features of the ring to leave textured, and which parts to clean up and make smooth.  The cuttlebone gives an organic texture to each of the rings.  It's important that all rings fit together well so that they can be stacked easil and be worn comfortably. 

They're great, especially the ones with serious height to them! Tell me a little about your new collection...
I'm working on a new collection now - I am so excited about it.  I feel that having had this year since university, I can show in this collection how I have developed and grown as a designer.  I plan to play with colour again (move away from the black oxidisation and rose gold plate) but I definitely want to keep the cuttlefish bone grain within all my pieces again. I want to develop this process more, to make it my signature style as a designer.  As well as developing new collections I will always enjoy to make one-off pieces, I think that these help with the designing for new collections and vice-versa.

Pebble and Growth stacking rings
Do you have a favourite jewellery designer or someone you look up to?
My favourite jewellery designer is Ruth Tomlinson; I have followed her career and work since being at university myself. I love her techniques [Ruth uses porcelain, gemstones and glass] textures and use of colour... I think she's legendary when it comes to electroforming!
I also have a favourite 'fashion jewellery' designer - Fannie Schiavoni. She really inspired me to work hard and to design my own jewellery when I interned with her having just moved to London. I think that her background in fashion helps give her jewellery pieces edge - they are so bold and well made!

Are there anyone designers you'd love to collaborate with?
Good question!!! I would really love to collaborate with another designer who wasn't necessarily a jewellery designer, I think it would be great to see how I could push myself and having the influence of someone with a different design mind... It makes me a little excited to be moving into a studio with two different designers from different design disciplines.

And finally - that age old one - where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?

A selection of rings from the Growth Collection

What a sweetheart, eh?! A big thank you to Ros for her brilliant answers and photos

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