Conor Joseph is the next big name on the Jewelry block from CSM, from which he has recently graduated with a brilliant collection! He decided to highlight small parts of the human body that, in his opinion, usually go unnoticed, and created exceptional skin-thin pieces – ear cuffs, knuckle, finger and thumb rings that perfectly fit both men and women. Conor chose silver, yellow and rose gold for his designs that have an enormous potential of becoming a luxurious custom made one off pieces. 1Granary had a pleasure to interview Conor Joseph where he tells of his experience of the Jewelry course (which is useful for future jewelry students), his personal journey to CSM, and of his stunning graduate collection.
Tell us about yourself. Why CSM? And what was your journey to get in?
I was born and raised in Liverpool were I lived until I was 19. Before moving to London I attended Liverpool Community College were I did my Foundation year, I opted to go down the textiles pathway as there really wasn’t any pathway that focused on jewellery design or making but it worked well choosing the textiles pathway as no one else was focusing on jewellery so I was just left to my own devices and I really got to do whatever I wanted.
I had a few reason for moving to London, the main was that I had knew of the reputation of CSM since I asked my GCSE Textiles teacher ‘were do fashion people go to uni’ when I was 14, So it was really since I was 14 that I have been thinking about what it is I could offer and take away from a life at university in London and now that I’m 22 and a graduate of Saint Martins I should be able to summaries what CSM is all about but I still very much don’t have a clue.
Why jewellery design?
Even before Foundation and Sixth Form an even my GCSE’s I always had an interest in fashion and jewellery and I have loved to make and create things, I started making simple beaded bracelets for my mum and sister an my aunties when I was about 13 or 14 and it all really took of from there I guess. I was always torn on what to focus as I would sketch garments but then make accessories but I felt I always felt had a knack for making jewellery so it felt like the decision was made for me and I have been more then happy with the results.
Tell us about your course? How it is structured? What do you like about it, what do you study in it?
Well being as it’s is a CSM course the focus is on concept and design rather than making and honing you skills as a jewellery, You do of course get taught numerous jewellery making techniques, both traditional and new but your not really enforced to practice these new skills it is really up to you what if do with what you have learnt or if for example you take a traditional technique involving metal and use it in a new way or with a new material like hair or plastic or something not associated with ‘jewellery’ then that is fine.
There are really no limitations with you design and concepts but its is finding that fine line that makes your crazy, surreal ideas work in a 3-D format that then has to sit on or around the body that is the hardest part as it always has to respond or interact in some way with the body.
I personally love to carve jewellerey or segments of jewellery like rings or earings or even little sculptures then have them cast into metal, my final collection was made through or process close to this but with many other layers of molding and layering involved.
Do you have lessons and lectures, or just projects, the same way as fashion design students?
The course was a mix of everything really but the final year you focused more on your final collection and you dissertation. The first two years was really about learning new skills and figuring out how to use them and develop your own style and design identity.
Any advices to people who want to study jewellery design?
Personally I wish I had attended classes more in my first year and used more of the resources that were available but I was just so excited to be in a new city were I could really be myself and learn how to be independent, I really enjoyed every year but there are always aspects that your not going to like, I do feel sometimes the course wasn’t organized as well as it could have been but I think that can be felt by people on any course.
I would strongly advice people who haven’t to try an internship as soon as jrthey can, they are so easy to get and you will learn so much about how the industry really works, my first internship in London was for Mary Katranzou and it was a real eye opener on how a fashion collection showcased through a fashion show is put together, you will learn that its is in no way as glamorous and all high fashion as you think but it will help ground you into what to expect from a design job once you have graduated.
Hard work, determination and above all belief in yourself is key to doing or ‘surviving’ a course at CSM and never ever let a tutor get the best of your emotions, there will be some days were you will be so tired or frustrated that you will want to cry but trust me don’t bother, there was one visiting tutor who told me I should not have been on the Jewellery Design course and that maybe I was wasting my time and now I have graduated with what I feel was one of the strongest collections of my year, I really hope to bump into her one day and give her the most warmest and fakest smile and hello that I can possibly muster.
Tell us about your final jewellery collection?
I focused my collection on small parts of the body that I felt really go unnoticed especially in jewellery design, I created a selection of cuffs that fit along the ridge and behind the ear and two silver ear fillers that fit perfectly inside the ears, I also looked at the hands to see were you normally don’t wear jewellery creating a selection of rings that fit between the fingers, thumb or over the knuckles as well as two finger rings that keep your fingers in a certain position to highlight the subtle movements of the hands that normally go unnoticed. All my pieces have skin texture as the defining detail through out my collection.
What techniques did you use? Where your idea came from?
My final collection came from my love and fascination from the human form, I have always been interested with the natural texture and intricate detail of the skin and contours of the body so I thought creating a collection to celebrate to body was the perfect way to express my love combining jewellery with the body.
I took molds from a fittings model as I like the idea of having ‘the perfect fit’ in my jewellery, this means that my collection wouldn’t fit everyone but it does fit most and I like the idea to create a line of one off custom made pieces that I would mold from you own skin and body shape, as well as a more ready to wear line that would fit the majority of people, Even though the skin texture detail from this collection is molded from a woman I think my pieces work well on both men and women as skin is something we share it makes sense that my jelwery could be shared between both sexes.