Friendship. With or without words. It exists between the four ladies of the Belgian jewellery brand STUDIO COLLECT. Deliciously spontaneous and unconditionally. The same vision on how jewellery should look like and be worn brought Hermien Cassiers (Herbie), Saskia Govaerts (Saskia), Magaly Hermans (Maggie) and Hannah van Lith (Hannie) together in 2013. And ever since they are inseparable. Their stark and wearable creations catch attention because of their simple shapes and lines with a powerful charisma. This exceptional quartet feels and complements each another very well and puts a new definition on ‘collaboration’. I wanted to know how well they do this.
During our conversation a lot of chatter goes back and forth. Sentences are started by one and completed by another. And in between there is still room for wonderment about the uniqueness of this perfect picture. Apparently this is how it goes when four women who carry STUDIO COLLECT in their hearts sit before you.
From conceptual to wearable design
The story of these four young ladies already began at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. During their studies jewellery design Saskia, Hermien, Hannah and Magaly fantasised their collaboration aloud. Although in their own manner. “The academy focuses very much on the conceptual instead of the creation of wearable jewellery. All four of us had different views. We learned a lot during our studies, but afterwards we very much desired to actually create jewellery one could wear in daily life.” Lo and behold, the first seeds for Studio Collect were planted. The resulting quest for a joint studio to share the costs and materials, eventually led to the aforementioned collective.
Jewellery from Studio Collect can be recognised by it’s simple straight lines and shapes. Original and yet wearable.
In contrast with the early days, today Studio Collect uses solely natural materials such as silver, gold, (semi) gems, coral, and pearls and so on. “In the past we worked with gilded copper. This choice then was part of our research and growing process. It is our intention to craft enduring jewellery, which keep their value and last for a long time. Hence we soon switched to using high quality materials.
It can’t be ruled out that in the future we also will experiment with wood or leather for example, but the foundation will always remain gold and silver.” The foursome also crafts jewellery they would wear (and buy) themselves. So good taste is guaranteed. Whew!
This doesn’t belong to only me
Studio Collect laughs. “By now People know we are a foursome, but it still happens that people in the shop ask who has crafted which jewel. This tells us that it isn’t obvious what we do.” The whole process, from design to development, happens together. Everybody decides on everything. Hence no design belongs solely to somebody. What others may see as a big challenge, is for Studio Collect natural and hence their biggest power.
The four ladies are well aware of each other’s skills: they see them and do something with them. And in this way the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Collaborating the way we do and every day being allowed to do what we so heartily desire to do feels like a big luxury.
During the interview something wonderful happens. Asking why they do what they do, results in a 10 minute polylogue. The voices grow louder, the speaking pace fastens tremendously. The conversation flutters hither and thither, but the message stays the same.
Filled with excitement the four ladies of Studio Collect talk about how much fulfilment it brings them to see a satisfied customer in the store. About how awesome it is to encounter somebody wearing their jewellery. About how nice the design phase actually is, this designing together. About how great it feels to build something together and improve their future together. About how glad they are to be able to do something for themselves. About how heartily they spend time together and work together. And then at last: “I sincerely hope this will never stop”. Together.
A little too clingy perhaps? Not at all.
A jar of chocolate
Besides a shared jar of choco there are not many sweets to be found in the studio of Studio Collect. Magaly, Saskia, Hermien and Hannah don’t beat about the bush and none of them wears kid gloves.
“We are more like sisters. Even after work we often see each other. We are very direct towards each other. We have to be when working so tightly together day in day out. Sometimes our opinions collide because of that, but that should be possible and any disputes vaporise quickly.”
The most difficult moment of working together as foursome is when the final prototypes for the series need to be selected. However, in the end even those moments work out in their favour. “All the discussions (too ‘bolly’, too figurative, too romantic, too goody-goody, …) preceding the final decision are at the same time also very enriching.
The ladies of Studio Collect were able to check off many things from their bucket lists so far. The last item on their lists was their own store, but in 2017 even this dream came true. This complementary quartet builds and dreams about a beautiful future, together of course. Or what else were you thinking?