Making contemporary jewellery that could be better described as sculpture, Lauren Joffe creates her ‘objects’ by playing with form and materials. She explains, “My design process is quite organic. The design needs to come from my hands and making rather than from very detailed technical drawings.”
For Lauren, materiality is central to an idea for a new piece. Her approach is almost always informed by the interaction of materials. Lauren believes that the fundamental beauty in her pieces resides in the fact that each is completely unique, retaining distinctive irregularities, textures or surface oxidization. Her simple forms embody a quality of restrained spontaneity.
With a degree in law and another in English literature, jewellery wasn’t always the ambition for Lauren. It was during a short course in Visual Arts & Contemporary Craft in preparation for enrolling to study architecture or interior design, that she discovered her vocation. A third degree followed, this time a fine arts degree at RMIT University in Melbourne, specializing in Gold & Silversmithing.
Lauren has a tendency for ‘pushing the boundaries’ as it were with traditional techniques; engaging with traditional processes to discover new interpretations and possibilities. She credits space and encouragement from wonderful teachers for her innovative and open-minded approach to art. She says, “I think the looseness of my approach and willingness to experiment has been the most fundamental part of my art practice and development as an artist.”
Lauren’s design philosophy is grounded in the Japanese aesthetic tradition and has been shaped by a lifelong connection to Japan. Being raised in both Cape Town and Melbourne, it was during her years in Australia that her fascination with Japan first began. She says, “When I was a child my mum worked at a Japanese art gallery in Melbourne, so I grew up exposed to the most incredible Japanese art and antiques. And then in my teens I studied Japanese and went on an exchange program to Japan.
The Japanese believe that every object, large or small, expensive or inexpensive, has value and the potential to be beautiful. They celebrate the natural and its defects. I value things that are nuanced and modest, and believe that elegance permeates a form or object by its suppression.”
One of Lauren’s central focuses has been experiments in casting in both metal and glass (pate de verre). Her favourite project so far, and the one she’s found most frustrating, has been a series of cast glass vessels. She taught herself how to work with the temperamental material.
Currently back in Melbourne visiting family, including a newborn nephew, Lauren has been taking advantage of having a friend with a glass studio in the area where she’s learning more about glass casting. Her next series of vessels which she intends to exhibit, is already planned for when she returns to Cape Town.
Not one to get too comfortable with a material, Lauren’s recent work has included working with precious stones, something she’s never done before, for a collection she’s developing for a gallery. She’s also working on a new production line of jewellery to be launched under a different label and to be available in Cape Town and Melbourne.
As for the future, Lauren hopes to visit Munich for private tuition in the studio of one of her favourite artists, renowned for his innovative work. She says, “I think ongoing skills development is important, and you also gain so much from other artists who work in the same way you do. I’m always interested in collaborating with other artists/designers, and in projects within other creative disciplines.” Another aspiration of hers is to move towards making larger sculptural pieces and vessels, all while shattering convention, we’re sure.
Find more from Lauren at www.laurenjoffe.com
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