At first glance, Kaat De Groef’s project, Beads, looks like simple shapes with curvy outlines. The subtle uniqueness of each piece of jewellery has delicately folded into the creators’ design skills and observation with her appreciation towards human bodies.
Inspired by the connection between jewellery and their wearer’s bodies, Kaat would like to discover how jewellery can create a heightened awareness of bodies.
“During my research I did a couple of sessions with a massage therapist to get a better understanding of how we experience touching from a body’s perspective. It helped me to understand the connection of body parts and the importance of that to feel in balance,” said Kaat.
Such a project may sound simple to the ear, but Kaat has been paying an incredible amount of attention to details and the fusion of traditional techniques and new technologies.
The main materials used in Beads are pearl and porcelain, while human body shapes need to be accurately measured in order to have a gapless touch of the body and the piece of jewellery. Kaat admitted that she enjoyed the cumbersome but delicate creation process.
It started with a three-dimensional body scan of herself and plaster mould to ensure the direction of the project. The actual use of porcelain involved drying, firing and the finishing of porcelain which took a few days. The final pieces were slip casted into moulds so they would be hollow.
It’s not even finished yet.
“Pearl knotting – where you make a knot between each pearl to secure the string – is quite a work intensive technique but I like to combine new technologies with old traditional techniques.”
Beads consists of a few parts which focuses on the chest, neck and shoulder since they are important parts in massage therapy. Kaat was fascinated by how the seemingly endless surface of beads only actually touches a body in a very small part – hence her project. Although the big pieces of beads are round from the appearance on the wearer’s body, it actually fits perfectly well with human shapes.
And necklaces, of course, “pearl necklaces are such a common type of jewellery. Everyone recognises it and can related to it.” The use of porcelain has gotten to Kaat’s mind due to its tactility and pureness, in addition to the freedom of shaping.
For Kaat, being creative is like nature and she was clear that she would want to do something within the arts and design criteria. Jewellery design has captured Kaat’s heart by the functionality and connection to bodies, also its intimacy and history as an art form.
After proper training in her Bachelor degree and Master degree, Kaat has matured as a creator and found her style of working.
“The most important thing I learned and developed during my time in my Master course is my own method of working. I love using images rather than sketching to visualise my ideas.” Kaat said. “The most difficult thing for me is letting a collection go even if I feel it will never be finished.”
Currently, Kaat is working in a renowned designer brand while she is very much looking forward to finding a similar job in the future or even setting up her own brand by collaborating with another designer in fashion or accessories. She is also keeping herself inspired for continuous development for her existing projects and new upcoming projects.