LONDON–As a design school with countless success stories, Central Saint Martins sets instant expectations and usually more often than not manages to fulfill them.
This time, it was the second year BA jewelry design students’ turn to wow us. On April 1, the group put on an intimate show, an “exploration of what it means to be sustainable,” complete with organic wine and entirely-recycled paper goody bags. Indeed, this was the first time in their six-year-running annual show that sustainability was added as a key element. This was to demonstrate that ethical challenges can be turned into a positive catalyst. As-ever with Saint Martins you can expect a performance, and the opening pieces–structured bamboo bodily extensions by Steph Bila and a dripping wax choker by Crystal Burden–gave way to complex metal and biodegradable costume wear in sculptural shapes and forms, showing a vulnerability and softness that often comes with ethical considerations.
Fern Jelleyman’s silver metal tubes, layered on top of each other as neck and wrist formations, worked for an especially striking effect, while scattered dried rose petals by Hai Qing She and a three-dimensional blood-red cotton wool sculpture by Wenting Cheng conveyed a certain romanticism expected from jewelry. Other standouts included Nina Van Houten’s interwoven knit headpiece made from recyclable garbage bags, and Hayley Evans’ fortune-teller string earrings and bracelets made to appear as organic earth decompositions.
It seems fitting that the next rising CSM jewelry designers would take on a sustainable perspective–which is often labeled with stale connotations–and set the standard for a new way of thinking in jewelry production, one that’s already said to have influenced giants like Cartier to think of a more “sustainable luxury.” For its true lasting effects, we’ll have to wait and see.
**Photos by Sam Davies at Scrimshaw.