Dazera: Unique Craftsmanship

Dazera: Unique Craftsmanship

Dazera brings innovative fine jewellers together both online and in exhibitions enabling customers to see the wide range of designs available all in one place. Founder Domini Hogg discusses the 2017 exhibition, and the notion of jewellery as a wider cultural artefact to be celebrated.

A: You founded Dazera as a company dedicated to raising the profiles of emerging artists and creative designers working with precious stones and materials. Why is this important to you?
DH: Creativity is a wonderful thing. There is something undeniably positive about it especially when combined with precious stones and materials which are renowned for their exquisite beauty. Promoting creativity and beauty together is as close as I can come to promoting happiness, because it reminds me on a daily basis of why it is so much fun to be alive. It’s difficult starting out as an artist and as an artist-jeweller myself, I understand these challenges only too well. I like to help others where I can and founding Dazera seemed like the best way of using my skills to do this.

A: How do you think craftsmanship is changing in the 21st century?
DH: With the emergence of CAD technology and 3D printing craftmanship is going through a similar transition as art went through when the camera was invented. Prior to the camera, painters would strive to achieve very fine representational detail, but once the camera was able to do this for them, the artist’s role shifted more to one of expression and abstraction. Now that there is a mechanised way of producing most things, people look to craftsmanship more for its expressivity, spontaneity and experimental nature. You can tell a piece that has been handmade because of the detail in it that would never have been pre-planned, the slight imperfections in it – often arising from the artist’s response to unexpected results during the creative process – that ultimately make it more human.

Where before craftsmanship aimed for perfection, now there is more widespread appeal in imperfections and handmade expressivity – the rustic look that might have been eschewed in previous centuries is making a comeback. Some people lament the decline in craftsmanship. Whilst it is true that in general the sought-after precision of previous periods is now less trained and some specialist techniques are disappearing, I have been trying unsuccessfully for months to find a craftsman specialising in plique-a-jour, an enamel technique common during the Art Nouveau period – this does not mean craftsmanship less esteemed. It is just that these roles are changing.

A: Your latest showcase of designers will be held in The Exhibitionist Hotel. Why did you choose this venue?
DH: What attracted me most to The Exhibitionist Hotel was the fact that it already supported emerging artists. It hosts changing exhibitions of artworks curated by Attollo Art curator, Vestalia Chilton, throughout the year. Every time you go in, you will discover a new artist and a different style. I wanted to present the jewellery within an artistic setting, because I think it means visitors go in with more of a mindset to interpret the jewellery and understand it from an artistic perspective rather than as a beautiful adornment.

A: How will the venue traverse the lines between commerce and art? How do you think this relates to the wider industry of jewellery?
DH: It is always difficult placing a fixed value on art. Somehow, the moment you do, it detracts a little bit from the value it holds. Good art is invaluable, which is often why auctions can be the best way of selling art, because the value will be determined by how much competing individuals want it and can afford to pay for it at the time. This is not a fixed value, but a transient value required for transactional purposes. Contemporary jewellery by independent artists is not often sold at auction, though perhaps it should be. Dramatically affected by the industrial revolution and its sudden mass appeal as an aesthetic and affordable adornment, the jewellery industry has a long way to go to re-establish the artistic recognition it deserves. There is so much jewellery available nowadays that the first step is in recognising that not all jewellery is art, but that it is important to pick out the jewellery that does have artistic value.

The Dazera exhibition focuses on curating jewellery with artistic value and will be displaying it in the creative environment of The Exhibitionist Hotel. Visitors will be able to meet the designers themselves and talk to them about their creative process. This year we have also organised a series of expert talks. The first one will address the topic of jewellery as art and will discuss this question in more detail.

A: What designers will you have on display, and what types of work are they exhibiting?
DH: Kayo Saito, Maria Frantzi, Dalia Daou, Mikala Djorup, Max Danger, Susi Hines, Tina Engell, Esther Eyre and Astratelli (my own brand). Our focus is always on fine jewellery, but I try to ensure all our exhibitions represent a wide range of different styles so that there is something for everyone. Many of the designers have won awards for their work, including Max Danger who recently won our Dazera Art Jewellery competition with his Weight of the World on our Shoulders Ring.

A: How do they relate / contrast to each other?
DH: Dazera designers are selected for their originality and so are often more complimentary than similar to each other, but there are some commonalities. By chance this year I have three Danish designers (Max, Mikala and Tina). All of them have very different approaches though. Of the three of them Mikala’s delicate, organic style is the one most representative of the Scandinavian minimalism so in vogue at the moment, while Max and Tina styles would be hard to classify as typically “Scandinavian.” Nature is an inspiration for all of them, not just the Danish ones, but the way they interpret it is unique to each. Kayo Saito and Mikala Djorup focus more on recreating the atmosphere and experience of nature with magical mist and frosted branches, whilst Dalia Daou and Maria Frantzi use nature’s palate of colours to meld brilliant sunrises and canopies of green together. Esther Eyre uses natural motifs like coral to evoke whole underworld paradises.

A: Where does their inspiration come from?
DH: Creative designers have their eyes constantly open and inspiration can come from anywhere. Aside from nature, Susi Hines takes inspiration from Renaissance history, Max Danger from science, and myself as Astratelli from vegetables, poetry and ancient Greece.

A: How important is curation in the display of the materials? Do you view them as artworks in themselves?
DH: Curation is an essential part of displaying artwork. I do view jewels as miniature artworks: some more exceptional than others. One of the things I like about Goldsmiths’ Fair is that they have a case as you walk in of jewellery curated by a selected individual. This year the case was curated by filmmaker Ujin Lin, for his cinematic narrative, Precious Mysteries. At the Dazera exhibition each designer will be managing their own display. Many of them are very imaginative in how they do this. Longer-term, however, I would like to curate jewellery on a theme combining the work of multiple designers that can travel as a group to venues around the world.

A: What other plans do you have for Dazera in the coming months? 
DH: We have just launched our shoppable gallery online, which will make the work of artist-jewellers accessible all year round and all over the world. Our aim is to become the most trusted online location for jewellery collectors and enthusiasts globally – a place where they can reliably find distinctive fine jewellery to suit their own personal style and interests. I hope in the future to host exhibitions in other international jewellery locations like New York, Paris and Shanghai. This is a very exciting time for Dazera.

The Exhibitionist Hotel, London, 30 November – 2 December. Fore more information: www.dazera.com

1. Max Danger, Royal Jelly Ring. Courtesy of Dazera. Image: Katrina Lawson Johnston.