We have to confess. From time to time we find out about new designers from our friends. This time it was Mala Siampatni and when she wrote us, she was excited about a new designer who had caught her eye at the JOYA exhibition in Barcelona, the Catalonian María Ninot so we decided to see what her work was all about.
María Ninot – Photo: Amaia Brena
María has two passions: her work and her city, Barcelona. After high school, she spent two years deciding what to do next before beginning to study different disciplines of the arts. While at La Industrial, she did a course on jewellery, learning to work with enamel and sculpture.
Since then, she has shown in places such as Valencia, Barcelona, Legnica, Hangzou and Munich. In 2009, she won the Enjoia’t opinion prize and in 2013, the Jo.Joia, whose award was a stand at the Inhorgenta fair in Munich this year.
Her workshop is in the Asociación Oslo Barcelona Work & Shop, which is itself an interesting creative space. Defined as “a platform that tries to create micro-policies: local, transparent, coherent and participative. OSLO is made up of 30 artists who sell their work “without any middlemen, in support of creators against big brands to achieve high-quality products at affordable and fair prices”.
María Ninot’s work is meticulous and, one could say, it appears simple, without any pretensions apart from that of being a piece of artisanal work that is beautiful, personal and made with feeling. And then there’s María herself, who can surprise you with her knowledge of sculpture, especially with her eolic pieces, which have left the team at So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins fascinated and wanting to know more about her.
SO CATCHY!: You say that you weren’t very sure about what to study when you finished high school and that you got into artisanry because it seemed interesting. When did jewellery begin to monopolize your interest?
MARÍA NINOT: It was during the course on enamel that I met two jewellers who introduced me to modern jewellery, which was quite different that what I thought it was. My interest was piqued and so I began to study how jewellery is made, the metal is treated and how a jewel can represent someone.
SC!: How do you define your work?
MN: My work is divided into two basic lines. One is more about esthetics, pieces that you wear and that most people feel comfortable with; there are different limited edition collections. The other is more artistic, where the pieces are more creative and conceptual, the majority being unique pieces. The first is an gateway for people who don’t know anything about contemporary jewellery and the second is my passion.
SC!: You’re a part of OSLO, what’s it like to work in a place where there is so much creative talent, and with such a social commitment?
MN: My workshop is in the Asociación Oslo Barcelona Work & Shop, which I share with three other artists, Aloma Lafontana, Amaia Brena and Ana Vivero. Sharing space with other artists has always been positive for me, logistically because it helps to have help around and to cover costs but, above all, because different points of view help me see my work in a different light. In Oslo, there are 35 associates; from illustrators to leatherworkers, to jewellers and hatters. The association works as a platform, as a group we are stronger.
SC!: If someone wants to buy one of your pieces, a part from OSLO, where should they go? Do you sell online?
MN: I handle all the contacts, by email or on my blog, I’ve got a shop on Etsy, and OSLO has an online store at Chicplace, where you can find more of my work.
María Ninot in her workshop in OSLO – Photo: Amaia Brena
SC!: What’s the average price of your pieces?
MN: The simplest pieces are around 35€ and the more complex ones around 150€.
SC!: What was the average price of the pieces in your last collection La fuerza del viento (The strength of the wind)?
MN: The wind pieces are small sculptures that are individual pieces and the prices are between 120€ and 800€.
SC!: What did you choose to work with wind as the subject of your last collection?
MN: When I was studying Fine Art, I happened upon a sculptor by the name of César Manrique who had a series of eolic sculptures. I was fascinated by them since wind has always been my favorite element; because it moves me, it cleans me, soothes my soul and drives me crazy. So I started there, making small sculptures that moved and in the end I shrank them and they became jewellery.
SC!: Tell us about “Piezas Origen” (Origin Pieces), the ones you made for pregnant women.
MN: For me it was a way to talk about the maternal link, the union that existed through the umbilical cord, now the bellybutton. It’s a part of the body that, in my opinion, is very delicate; it’s a door inside. So I decided to create these pieces as amulets that reflect this feeling. The pieces helped me on many levels, from spiritual growth to working on the fears of others, helps to overcome them.
SC!: Tell us a bit about your creative and production process.
MN: I’m not exactly an organized person so my processes aren’t either. I do what comes up, restocking collections that have sold out while working on personalized orders. And whenever something comes to mind or simply when I have a bad day and only want to do work that really moves me, I take time off from the mundane stuff and work on that. There are some months that have more commercial activity so I can’t spend as much time on my artistic needs but I make up for it in the slow months, like February, and lock myself in the workshop to design new collections or entertain myself with different creations. I do all of the work on my pieces, from the design, to the production and the finishing. Not all parts are equally exciting but in the end, it all comes out the way I want it.
SC!: Where do you see the future of jewellery design and production going?
MN: I think that for years now, young, local designers have been making themselves know. Since the beginning of the economic crisis, many jewelers have had to do the different stages of manufacturing by themselves, or to do smaller collections to try and save. At the same time, there is more of a market for imported work from other countries, which has ruined prices and flooded the market with designs that can be found in any city around the world. What would be ideal is a return to conscientious and ethical consumption, for people to once again learn the value of things and to be aware of the real costs, not just the economic ones. So I hope that the future of jewellery is for more awareness and responsibility, buying less but smarter. The same thing is happening on a larger scale with clothes. Shopping in large chains is cheap when you pay for it but morally expensive. As time passes, people are learning that it’s better to pay a bit more and know that what they are getting is well made.
SC!: In a world that is now flooded with 3D printing and other such technologies, do you defend traditional artesanry as the ideal form of manufacturing jewellery?
MN: In my case, I prefer to have control of the process because I I like working directly with metal more than working with a computer. I am amazed by what you can do with 3D printers but I don’t think my work needs that.
SC!: Have you worked with 3D printers and programs for jewellery design? What was it like?
MN: I’ve done a few designs with 3D programs, just to see what it was like, but I’ve never printed a piece since I didn’t think it was worth it. If some day I need to use 3D printing for a design, I’ll do it without a doubt. Up until now, however, everything I’ve come up with has been less expensive to do in my workshop or with casting.
SC!: Name some jewellery designers that you admire.
MN: It’s hard to name a favorite designer, I don’t really have a favorite since there are so many out there that I admire for one reason or another. In metal jewellery, I like people who work in the same vein as I do because I know more about it. Many people say that my work is very delicate, but I think that Marta Boan is more so. Others say that my work is very kinetic, but again, Jordi Aparicio is, for me, the definition of kinetic. Another person on my list of those I admire is Anna Krol, for the poetic language of her pieces.
SC!: Is there anything that you can’t stop wearing?
MN: I almost always wear a simple and discrete necklace, made by myself of course. It’s a short, fine chain with three small bowls. I don’t wear a lot of jewellery and wearing this necklace is like like wearing nothing at all.
SC!: Not long ago, you met Mala Siamptani, who we absolutely love and who we interviewed a few months back. I know that her work is quite a bit different than yours but what do you think about it?
MN: Her work is radically different than mine. My education as a jeweler was very classical while hers comes from other disciplines. Everyone expresses themselves with the material that they know and that they can take where they want. Her pieces stir up my insides a bit; despite the fact that her materials, like resin, are quite new, they have a very strong prehistoric connotation. Her latest pieces, the ones that are mixed with iron shavings specifically, are a testimony to the passage of time; they are contemporary amulets with shapes that remind me of the bones in your pelvis, which I consider to be, for women, the base of the body. So I think her work is very deep, that it comes from inside and that kind of authenticity is what fulfills me in the world of jewellery.
All photos courtesy of María Ninot
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla