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Nature's Disobedience | Harriet Morris Jewellery Interview

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Geometric, organic and minimalist, Harriet Morris's Rubbles is a collection of limitless possibilities. At first glance it portrays a wearable depiction of metropolis city blocks densely clustered together in confined spaces, or an exploration of crystallisation in alternative forms or how I would imagine a ring would sprout if jewellery is an organic material instead of metal, this collection certainly allows your imaginations to run wild.

Harriet Morris describes her collection as deliberate as well as accidental; no matter how consistent she is in the use of her tools, materials and design specification, each of her piece gradually succumbs to the controlled chaos of natural forces from heat, gravity and luck, leading to the creating of one-of-a-kind pieces.

Here I speak to Harriet Morris about her new Rubbles collection, what inspired her to create her one off pieces and her dream collaboration.

1. What inspired you to become a jewellery designer?
After studying History of Art and Fine Art I spent nearly 10 years looking for my place in various creative industries. My main frustration was that design and production are usually considered entirely separate worlds. As a set designer you never touch a tool – and prop makers are given briefs. For me personally process and design are indivisible. 
When I finally started making jewellery and researching the designer-makers out there it felt like coming home. The interaction between objects and the body was already a preoccupation for me- it just all suddenly made sense.

2. Jewellery designers based their designs on travels, culture, origins and personal life. How do you gather your own research for your jewellery label?

My education and experience working with set designers and artists has given me a large store of visual references. I was a member of the Design Team for the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies and have since worked for opera costume designer Moritz Junge and most recently as an art director for film. These positions all included lots of visual research and have given me many reference points. However more than anything else my research is driven by the making process- by play and experimentation with materials.

3. You describe your Rubbles collection as organic and geometric. What is the inspiration behind this?

The individual cubes and sticks of silver I use to make these pieces are the building blocks- uniform and ordered. I bring them together carefully, allowing the effects of heat on the silver to drive the design. In this way they are like little metaphors for all creation- the geometric cubes are repeated cells or units that come together to make unique organic entities.  

4. People spend most of their lives in a work space. How would you describe your studio?

I work in a communal space at Sterling Quest – a jewellery school and studio in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It is a bustling place with people from all over the world coming and going. Our Maestro Billy King has created an inspirational environment and community where I have forged close relationships with other jewelers such as Frédérique Mercure @frederiquemercure.

5. Do you have a piece/s from your collection you wear all the time?

My favorite is the Nest ring- my hands do best with big and bold!

 6. You are currently based in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Does the move effect the way you create your work?

Moving here a year ago definitely set my brain free. The pace and attitude towards life here has given me the space in my mind I needed. I didn’t realize how restrictive London life was for my creative thinking until I got away. It’s a cliché but it’s true for me! This particular town is full of craftspeople and feels like an incubator for me while I develop the rest of my first collection. 

7.  What is your favourite social media platform? How do you utilise it to your advantage?
Instagram! I have found some wonderful @tallerdefeeas who post weird and beautiful images of corners of Madrid (and also make inspiring jewellery from antiques and found objects). And it has been a great platform for me to get feedback on ideas and new pieces as well as reaching customers.

8. Describe the person wearing your collection.

I think the Rubble rings have quite a broad appeal, but my customer tends to have an established interest in the arts or fashion. I have had comments that my work appeals because it’s ‘ungirly’ and I love that. My aim eventually is to make androgynous pieces for men and women. There are some pendants for this collection in the pipeline that fit this brief. 

9. Is there a jewellery designer or influential public figure you look up to the most?

In terms of a dream career it has to be Shaun Leane. It looks like he has a lot of fun with his one off inventions for Alexander McQueen as well as huge success with wearable collections.

10. Is there is brand or person you would love to collaborate with?

Although I am now making wearable pieces of jewellery I began by making large, performance pieces from objects such as paper fasteners, eggs and hen party willy straws. I would love to collaborate with a fashion designer on a couture runway show. If we’re talking dreams, Jean Paul Gaultier is a favourite- his costumes for The 5th Element are astonishing.

11. 5 words to describe your jewellery.

Bold, dynamic, organic, wearable, graphic

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