Japan's Nijō Castle is actually a composite of two palaces, the Ninomaru, and Hanmaru, as well as parts of Fushimi Castle. One memorable architectural detail of the Ninomaru Palace is its squeaking "nightingale floors," strategically designed to alert the Shogun of sneak attacks and assassins through bird-like squeaking. Japan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Yuri Kawanabe.
Since beginning this blog, I have learned that whether or not a jewelry design is elaborate or simple every designer appreciates classic form.
Both styles of jewelry, after all, are built on the foundation of a simple line, curve, or angle.
Many complex jewelry pieces are born from precise conceptualizations. Many designers sketch these concepts, others allow instinct to take over, and the design builds itself in a sense.
A graduate of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Kawanabe's dramatic, three-dimensional configurations are more like miniature sculptures than jewelry.
With the use of patinated and anodized brass, copper, gold, and aluminum, her aesthetic focus is capturing movement. The renderings are spectacular pieces highlighting beautiful, flowing curvatures and spiky angles.
"I have a fascination with form that expresses movement. I work with paper models before building a piece from flat metal sheets," she says.
"The process of cutting and folding the paper rekindles memories of my childhood when I would help my father make Japanese New Year's decorations, or other ceremonial decorations.
There were also local men and women who made ceremonial decorations with simple materials like bamboo, paper, and straw. Their crafts turned an ordinary village place into a wondrous space, but these special, decorated environments exist only for a short time. This is the basis of what I call ephemeral aesthetics.
On the other hand, jewelry is a stable long-lasting form of body adornment fashioned from metal. My work combines these two approaches; ephemeral forms in metal using minimum soldering, twisting, and folding. Metal is such a supple material, and it responds best to the most simple approach."
Through her collections Sosho, Oru, Wreath, and Coil Works, Kawanabe takes viewers on a vivid exploration of the soft, voluptuous curves of Japanese calligraphy, nature motifs, and the anatomy of a wire coil.
"When a wire winds to a shape of coil, it develops a variety of expressive forms," she explains. "Almost inevitably though it is the wire itself which seems to make its own decision as to which way it will transform shifting its balance spontaneously. The process seems like a growth of actual living form."
A veteran in the field for nearly 30 years, her powerful compositions garnered the Japan Jewellery Exhibition's Japan Jewellery Prize, and the Japan Jewellery Art Competition's Award of Excellence.
Photo 1 (top right): Anodized Aluminum and Silver Soyogi Breeze Neckpiece from the Sosho Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): Patinated Brass Orange Cascade Neckpiece from the Oru Collection