Nia Dana | handmade textures & geometry
This time, we bring you an interview full of passion for jewellery with a talented young designer, Lara, whose silver jewellery brand Nia Dana already found its way into our shop. Let's find out more about her...
HOW DID YOU GET INTO DESIGN?
I grew up in a very artistic family. My mother was a designer and seamstress, and she even used to have her own boutique some years ago. Even though my father was an accountant, he liked to paint and make sculptures in his free time. I would say I was influenced by design and arts since a very young age. I studied graphic design, however, I decided to quit just a couple months before graduating. I loved it but I realised I wasn´t passionate about it. It just didn´t feel right. After that, I was really lost in life… I didn´t know what I wanted to do. I worked at jobs that had nothing to do with design and of course I didn't enjoy any of these jobs so I was really frustrated. To distract myself from this, I started playing with some beads and polymer clay and made some bracelets and earrings in my free time. One day my father gifted me a brass sheet but I didn´t know how to work with it, so I decided to take classes at a jewellery school. It was a love at first sight. I instantly fell in love with it and I realised that jewellery is my passion and that this is what I want to do in life. After some time I started to feel frustrated again because even though I was working at a jewellery company I wasn´t actually making jewellery, I was in the admin department. I was working on a computer all day and I did not like that. That´s when I decided to finally take my passion seriously and in 2016 I created my own brand - Nia Dana.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
There are a lot of things that influence me,
but I mostly take inspiration from geometry, architecture and the textures and materials found in nature.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS?
My jewellery is a combination of minimalism and geometric shapes but you can also find handmade textures inspired by natural materials like stones and wood. I try to have some variety in my collections so there are small and delicate pieces along with bold earrings and wide rings. My collections include designs for every taste. I believe you can have a minimal look wearing just a thin ring as well as when wearing some big bold earrings.
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH?
I like working with gold and silver but at the moment I mostly work with sterling silver. Recently I started using some semiprecious stones and I am considering creating a mini-series of pieces combining geometric silver shapes with some of these stones. But I have to say that I am a metal girl.
JUST WONDERING, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR ONE OF YOUR PIECES TO BE MADE?
The simplest pieces can take an hour to be made and then there are others that take more time, even the whole day. The production time also depends on whether everything goes right because metal is unpredictable. Sometimes pieces do not solder right, and sometimes all looks well but when I get to the final stage of polishing, porosity appears which means I have to start all over again. I consider myself a perfectionist and I pay attention to every detail so I get really mad when that happens.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
Not one day is the same, but I usually I wake up at 7 o´clock, I have breakfast and I exercise. I usually start working around 9 - mornings are for checking emails, updating social media, admin and running errands. In the afternoons I work at the bench. There are days that I work 10 hours straight and then there are some days that I only work 2-3 hours, it all depends on the orders I have. My studio is in my apartment and I share it with my husband who is a freelance 3D Character Animator and also works from home, so sometimes we adjust our work schedules so we can take a break and go for a walk or have a lunch together.
WHAT PART OF YOUR WORK DO YOU LOVE THE MOST? WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST CHALLENGING?
What I love the most is working with my hands and I enjoy the whole process of making a piece of jewellery. I just love all of it - sanding, soldering, cutting, polishing, and seeing how a paper drawing or an idea gets transformed into a real design. I also love the freedom of working for myself rather than for someone else's company, because I can do what I want and how I want to. On the other hand, I find the administrative and marketing part of the job the most challenging. I know it has to be done but I just don´t like it at all...
WHAT ELSE ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
I love to be active, doing exercise but I am a bookworm too and I love going to film festivals and art exhibitions. I also love spending time with my family and friends. That´s one of the reasons I like working for myself. I can go for a walk, have breakfast with my father or lunch with my mother or meet with some friends whenever I want because I can decide when I work.
YOU LIVE AND WORK IN BARCELONA.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE CITY?
Everything! I love my city and I feel so proud of being from here. There is so much life, there´s always things to do - lots of markets, festivals, concerts, and museums. The architecture here is amazing, I could walk for hours through the streets just watching the buildings. And last but not least, I love how the people are so open and friendly!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE DESIGN SCENE THERE?
There is and always has been a strong community of designers here. I think Barcelona is one of the most artistic cities in the world. It is a part of our culture and you can see it just by walking through the city, watching the buildings like La Pedrera, Casa Batlló or Sagrada Familia. It´s so inspiring. Also, there is a lot of support for new and upcoming designers. Every weekend, different handmade markets and festivals take place in the city. And lately, more and more shops started selling works of different young designer across various disciplines.
WHEN IN TOWN, WHAT SHOULD WE DEFINITELY VIST?
The MACBA or the Museu del Disseny are good museums for design lovers, also I love the old part of the city named El Casc Antic because it´s unique with plenty of small and narrow streets and still has the original floor from the medieval era. El Born and Gracia neighbourhoods are a must visit too. These parts are very trendy right now because lots of artists are living there and you can find plenty of shops from independent designers, lots of cool restaurants and sites to have a drink. And the port of course... You can´t come to Barcelona and not go to the seaport!
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE YOUNG UP-AND-COMING DESIGNERS YOURSELF?
I have a lot of them! I really like the clothing brand ABLESIA, MAEVO ceramics, and a fellow Spanish jewellery designer INÉS SUSAETA. She has a totally different style from mine but I really love her work. Also, I've recently started collaborating with ESTUDIO VARALI, which is a zero waste jewellery brand that uses recycled textiles. They asked me to produce some of the sterling silver hoops that they use and since I really like their concept I was happy to work with them.
WHY SHOULD CUSTOMERS CHOOSE SMALL INDEPENDENT BRANDS OVER FAST-FASHION? WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON SLOW-FASHION?
Of course, fast-fashion and mass production will always exist because it´s part of the consumer society that we live in. But I think that people are starting to realise that slow fashion and handcrafted designs are always a better choice. Not only because these products are better designed and made, but because shopping from independent and small brands is a guarantee that there is a focus on making a good product first, and secondly that the people who make these pieces are paid what they deserve and can work in a healthy work environment. I believe that people should also appreciate the uniqueness of having a product that it´s not just a replica but it is a unique piece that it´s probably not perfect, but it´s made by two hands by a person who is really passionate about it.
WHAT DOES MINIMALISM MEAN TO YOU?
For me it´s the reduction of something to it´s simplest form.