birgit toke tauka frietman
Birgit Toke Tauka Frietman is a hybrid designer working in the Netherlands and London. Her sculptural jewellery follows the complex shape of the human body and uses wood in an unconventional way to explore an uncommon material and shape.
Can you tell a bit about your collection?
I got inspired by nature in minimal art. Seen as in for example the impressionist painting ‘Study of Trees’ by Paul Cézanne, I found it incredibly interesting to see how a subject can be reduced to its essence and still keep all its strength and impact. This contrast of the minimal and the powerful interested me. I came across the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude in which their wrappings of nature and architecture revealed strong and clean shapes by removing the detailed and the intricate. Their ‘Running Fence’ intrigued me most, bringing the complex and simple together. I aimed to represent the framing of nature in my graduate project as well. Creating jewellery for an organic and complex body, I wanted to design pieces that contrast with their use of straight lines and clean curves.
I started looking into all the possibilities for shaping wood around the body. The technique of steam bending, gave me the right method to manually manipulate solid sheets of European walnut. In the end, Wood and the use of felt, I believe created a collection that in shape and cut is minimal but leaves a strong impression since the framing emphasises both the body and the jewellery.
What fascinates you about the jewellery design?
Jewellery, to me, is incredibly unique in its intimacy. It is a medium that exists closely connected to (and is driven by) personal values instead of functionality. To me, jewellery can be defined as unnecessary. Unlike clothing, there is no need for a person to wear it. Therefore the wearer makes an absolute conscious decision when s/he puts on a certain piece of jewellery. The irrelevancy creates that jewellery can expose the personal and the intimate.
The work reminds of very sculptural garments and it looks like there is a link between jewellery and fashion design, can you explain this?
Yes, there is a very close link; they go hand in hand in my work. When I started studying Jewellery Design, I was amazed by the enormous freedom in material and technique; from traditional enamelling to the new technologies, such as 3D printing. However when it came to the actual designing, the medium of fine jewellery seemed very limiting to me in both size and placement. For me it should adorn the body and fashion design started to intrigue me because the whole body is being considered and addressed. When I started to understand those differences/qualities, I think I gradually combined them to find my own hybrid.
How do you choose the materials and silhouettes for your designs?
The decisions for both materials and silhouettes are very naturally made. I tend to experiment a lot which gives me the right aesthetic and function. I think for my graduate collection, I spent about a month trying different types of wood to see which one would bend best into the shape that I wanted for the shields. Silhouettes, on the other hand, come more from my drawing development transferring to the body. With the chosen material, I try to understand what quality needs to be altered for the model to work as a final design.
Are you currently working on a new project? Can we expect a continuation of your graduation project?
I am working on several projects. I am currently developing sculpture ideas for a new project but I am also continuing my graduation collection in collaboration with Azura Lovisa Wänmann, graduating this year, from the BA (honours) Womenswear Design course at Central Saint Martins. Other than that, I am currently collaborating with several artists and designers in both the Netherlands and England, which projects should all come out around this summer.
Photos: Theresa Marx.
Make up artist: Grace Ellington.
Models: Flora Miles from D1Models & Natalia Munoz from Wilhelmina Models
Britt Berden is a Dutch future concept developer and material explorer living in London, currently studying MA Material Futures at Central Saint Martins. She works across various disciplines to create a single body of work in which she emphasizes that the assets of nature and being human are of intrinsic value, especially because we are heading towards a technological future. She derives from intuition and seeks new tools to stir the imagination to inspire a more valuable future.