MPA Collective is a recently created brand made up of three contemporary jewelry designers who, recently, decided to joing forces to produce simple, minimalist pieces using innovative materials.
Their pieces are barely adorned, their lines are pure and their designs bring together innovation and progressive art. They make their jewelry traditionally as well as using newer techniques like 3D printing, yet they avoid using the so-called ‘noble’ materials, preferring, mainly, polymers and wood.
The creators, Maryvonne Wellen, Phylicia Gilijamse and Anne Achenbach, live in different cities across Europe and decide recently to give So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins this exclusive interview.
SO CATCHY!: How did you come up with the idea of creating MPA?
MPA: We, Maryvonne Wellen, Phylicia Gilijamse and Anne Achenbach met in Düsseldorf, Germany in 2007, during our studies Applied Arts and Design there. After finishing our BA in 2011 we went our separate ways and continued our studies in respectively London, Düsseldorf and Munich.
As friends, we maintained a strong connection on a personal as well as professional level. In 2014 we all chose to venture into independence individually and talked a lot about the responsibilities and difficulties that accompany this decision. The idea to work together as MPA collective was quite intuitive, we were looking for a way to join our forces, motivate and inspire each-other, while still being able to follow our own individual style.
SC!: Define the style of MPA.
MPA: The jewellery of MPA can be defined by its clean graphic lines and strong volumes with little to no ornamentation. The designs are minimalistic and pure, yet unexpectedly inventive with functional details. MPA’s designs express quiet female strength and confidence, without being demanding or extravagant. Great attention is paid to material expression. Instead of choosing for high glossy materials bracelets, rings, earrings and pendants are executed in non-precious metals, polymers and wood, surfaces are textured, matte and have a reduced color palette.
SC!: Can you define your own personal style creating jewelry and how it works when doing it together.
Maryvonne: My designs are often inspired by existing jewellery. I invent new shapes based upon elements of historical, modern, fashion and ethnic pieces that I love, I abstract these pieces until the starting point is only present as a reference. Then I start experimenting in search of the right material and techniques to execute the design. The final designs derive from these experiments.
Phylicia: I find it hard to explain how I work. Sometimes looking out of the window and seeing and object or shape can trigger me to start working on jewellery. In this case it is hard to trace back the original source when I look at the final pieces. Often an idea just pops up in my head and then I start working with it. Trying out a lot of variations of proportions, shapes and materials, until I reduce it down to the design I like.
Anne: Often ideas for new jewellery pop up in my head from out of the blue, without me being able to define what exactly triggered the idea. I think that probably forms, materials or the combination of the both and other sensory stimulations activate my process of thinking about a new piece of jewellery.
MPA: The process for the collective work is different, MPA’s designs are created mostly in the way that one of us comes up with an idea, and first tries to describe it in words. We then talk about and start to sketch and/or make prototypes, then we discuss, test, react, transform and adjust. We repeat this process until we have worked our way towards a collective piece which everyone is satisfied with.
SC!: Where can we buy your pieces and what’s the average price?
MPA: We present and sell our jewellery at a few selected events and at the moment are looking for the right retail points to collaborate with on a longer term. Although we do not have a webshop it is always possible to contact us directly via e-mail at email@example.com when you fall for a piece of our jewellery. As we create unique one-off pieces as well as editions we handle a very broad price range, pieces cost between € 35 and € 500.
SC!: Complete the sentence: The perfect jewel has to have…. or is…..
Maryvonne: The perfect jewel has to be a pleasure to wear and is emotionally charged, it is surrounded by memories attached to it linking it to a special person, occasion or place.
Phylicia: A piece that is beautiful in its simplicity and has the perfect balance between choice of material and skillful execution.
Anne: For me the two components, form and material, need to harmonize to one another. I often also use the aspect of weight in my work. An unexpected light weight or an enjoyable sense of heaviness in a piece of jewellery can have a strong power of attraction to the wearer and the viewer.
SC! Is it a good or a bad moment to design jewelry?
MPA: It is never a bad moment to design jewellery! Economically seen it is probably not the most easy time to try sell good that are not of primary importance. But people want to express themselves as individuals and communicate who they are, for us this is the essence of fashion, and stating that jewellery is a part of fashion, the moment to design is now as good as can be.
SC!: Your favorite jewelry designer is…
Maryvonne: Johnny Coca, former accessories designer at Céline, now named creative director at Mulberry. And Elie Top who designs for Lanvin
Phylicia: Marc Monzó, I also really like the work of Marina Stanimirovic.
Anne: Francoise van den Bosch, her jewellery is now more than 40 years old but for me it seems quite timeless. I would also go for Karl Fritsch. I really enjoy his humorous work.
SC!: Plans for the future….
MPA: We are planning to design more collaborative jewellery with MPA collective and create an assortment that communicates a love for simplicity, innovation and material matter. Also we will be looking for suitable retail points to present our jewellery to and collaborate with.
SC!: Magazines, blogs or Instagram Acoounts you like about Fashion, Jewelry, Design….
Maryvonne: notjustalabel.com is great, they have a great network of superb young designers and publish good articles, for a general overview of what is happening in the fashionworld I visit Style.com and to see what is happening in the contemporary jewellery world I check Klimt02.net. I use Pinterest and check a bunch of blogs, my favorite for art is butdoesitfloat.com. Furthermore I regularly read Sleek, A and Purple Magazin
Phylicia: I read a lot of magazins, DANSK magazine, Kinfolk, AnOther, Dezeen, Current Obsession are among my favorites. Just started to use Instagram (@phyliciagilijamse) and have not found my favorite fellow Instagrammer yet.
Anne: Monopol; a german magazin about Art. Zeit; a german newsletter that is published weekly.
SC!: What’s you next challenge?
MPA: Phylicia and Anne will give a workshop at the Applied Art and Design department of the University of Applied Science in Düsseldorf, Germany in November. As Maryvonne also teaches a course there and because it is where the three of us met, it will be a happy reunion. To celebrate, MPA collective is planning an exhibition where we will present pieces from our individual collections and some new collaborative work in Düsseldorf around that time.
Photos courtesy of MPA Collective
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla