Velvit Welcomes MURKY
MURKY creators Emelica Lidman and Mike Årsjö chat with Velvit about the spark that inspired their jewelry brand, the meaning behind their label's name, and the way they perceive darkness and black as inspiration.
Velvit had the chance to talk to Emelica and Mike, not only about their Stockholm based jewelry line MURKY, but about their fascination with the movements of the human hand, the inspiration for single handedly filling the gap in the market with cutting edge male adornments, and of course, the Disco Test!
Velvit: Where is home? Have your homes influenced you in any?
Emelica Lidman: My home is here in Stockholm. Though the studio is also an important second home. I find calmness in the nature here in Stockholm; it helps to focus my creative process. I don’t think that my home has influenced me as much as situations have. These situations are not site-bound.
Mike Årsjö: I grew up in Papua New Guinea, living there until I was 18 years old. It’s a culturally diverse country that has many traditions; where craft has a strong presence. Adornment is a vital part in everyday life. Anything and everything that can be used in the surroundings is made into an adornment, either for oneself, someone else, or the home. This has strongly influenced me to work with jewelry.
V: How does being based in Stockholm inspire you artistically?
MÅ: Stockholm itself is a beautiful city. It does not inspire us so much in our designs; however the people and the attitudes towards jewelry and what we do is a strong influence for us. It makes us want to fill that void, especially regarding men’s jewelry.
EL: Inspiration also comes from the water that surrounds us. The darkness and harsh weather are also influences.
V: Where did the both of you study the art of jewelry making?
EL: Metal enchants me, the feeling of it, how its surface touches and reacts to the bare skin. I’ve studied the field of jewelry for six years. After completing a BA in Jewelry Art, I went to London to study at the Royal College of Art in order to practice a broader spectrum of jewelry methods.
MÅ: I’ve studied in Stockholm, first at a foundation level, where I was introduced to metal and craft. Following this, I completed a Master of Fine Arts at Konstfack University.
V: How did you both meet each other? What sparked the conversation in developing MURKY?
EL: It was 2006 and we sat next to each other in a workshop.
MÅ: We both took our bachelor of Fine Arts together at Konstfack. Late nights of making jewelry sparked the conversation about MURKY. The fact that the field of men’s jewelry was so minimal challenged us, triggering our creativity.
EL: In 2012 we worked on a big project together whilst sharing a studio. During this time we started questioning male adornment and the lack of it. We both aspired to create something we felt strongly about, and this is when we started to dream about MURKY.
V: Where does the name MURKY come from?
MÅ: Murky is often used to describe nature; we talk about murky forests, murky landscapes, and murky waters. We appreciated that this word comes from old Scandinavian language, mörker, meaning darkness. When describing water, murky implies that the surface is not transparent; hinting at something unknown or unseen lurking underneath. This is alluring, leading us to choose this word for our brand. We oxidize all of our jewelry as we appreciate the darker aesthetic that silver can have.
EL: (And) We liked the idea of having a name that was short yet full of subtle undertones.
V: Your pieces are unlike many jewelry pieces I have seen before! What inspired you to create pieces that can contort to the movement of the hand and wrist?
EL: The human body inspires and fascinates me; the hand in particular is my reference point. I’ve never understood the appeal of jewelry that simply hangs around your neck; jewelry is something much more intimate somehow. Rituals and habits have always been an ongoing theme in my creative process. These rituals manifest themselves in the methods that the pieces are made and how they are worn. It (hands and wrists) is a beautiful part of the human body, one that carries a lot of meaning through a simple gesture or touch of bare skin. It is our main source of inspiration because of the intimate, human aspects.
MÅ: The hand communicates so much; it performs a silent form of communication. The way we hold or move our hands is very expressive, whether hostile, peaceful, or appreciative. We appreciate this fact; it has provided inspiration for our jewelry. We make jewelry focusing on these movements and subtle communications.
V: What is the creative process like?
EL: We work closely together during the creative process, sketching onto the hand, building on the fingers, talking and changing direction as we go along. The hand itself determines the final outcome; how it moves, how the piece fits to the contours of the hand and fingers.
We like to challenge ourselves with the technical aspects of our pieces and the process from trial to finished piece can at times feel very long. But this is what makes the creative process interesting on so many different levels. Our jewelry pieces have to work with the body, almost as part of the body. Some pieces are bigger or more complex, and wearing them not only highlights, but also transforms parts of the body. Test runs are crucial for assessing how these pieces work.
V: When you’re ready to start production on a collection, how much trial and error is there with some of your pieces? How do you conduct test-runs on the mobility of some of the designs?
MÅ: Testing the mobility of each piece is vital. We have something that we call the disco test, which is if the jewelry holds through a heavy night of clubbing it should be good quality. Most of our trial and error is with finding the perfect locking solution. We are often nearly finished with a piece, but then try out numerous locking solutions before we are actually finished with it.
V: How does the concept for a collection start?
MÅ: We see our jewelry as timeless. Each collection draws inspiration from the previous one, so qualities that we appreciate in the first collection are continued and worked with in the following collection.
In our research process we also focus on texts or images that trigger and inspire us. From there we begin our sketching process where we work together. One draws, one creates, and then together we try to find locking solutions for each piece.
V: How do you feel the worlds of jewelry and fashion differ?
MÅ: Prior to my start in the jewelry world, I had one year where I studied at a fashion college. What I did not appreciate was that so many viewed jewelry as jewelry strictly as a complement to clothing. Jewelry was not strong enough on its own, needing the clothes to make it stand out. For me jewelry does not need to be supported by clothing, it’s a strong enough factor to stand out on its own.
EL: Jewelry, unlike fashion, still has a more natural potential of being sustainable because sentimentally and certain material aspects. Jewelry can be passed down through generations. Gold and silver can be melted down and reused. Clothing can be recycled, as the vintage clothing trend shows. Yet when vintage clothing goes out of fashion then these clothes are simply discarded. Buying jewelry is still seen as a great investment; we haven’t completely lost this to the high street.
V: What mainly differentiates the fashion scene in Sweden from other countries?
EL: I would say that the fashion scene here is very safe. There is no room for a lot of diversity. The fashion scene is being strongly influenced by mainstream fashion bloggers. I wish that people could think and choose lifestyles for themselves. I see a much bigger variety within fashion bloggers abroad and I wish we could have this diversity in Sweden.
MÅ: The fashion scene is Sweden leans towards a minimalistic aesthetic. Swedes are known to be trend sensitive, making the fashion industry quite safe. This means that there isn’t as much diversity as there is on the streets of Paris, London or New York. Fashion weeks in Paris and New York are essential for gaining inspiration and exposure.
V: When people think about supporting the slow fashion movement, often customers think of the clothing industry. How do jewelry artists contribute in creating environmentally and mindfully responsible collections?
MÅ: For Murky, being environmentally responsible is a vital part of our philosophy. All the silver that we use is purchased from a company that uses recycled silver as much as possible.
EL: We stand for longevity and permanence; we do not subscribe to trends. Our creations will last lifetimes.
V: What does black mean to you?
EL: When all layers and shades are stripped away, what remains is black; the core color. I like black because it says so little yet so much at the same time. It is mysterious, yet determined.
MÅ: Black is the most beautiful color in the world to me. It has so many qualities that other colors do not have. It can be perceived as spiritual, clean, strict, sexy, holy, authoritative, and much more. The color black is more for me than just a color; it is a lifestyle.
For more information on MURKY and it's creators Emelica and Mike, please check out their artist profile and shop our COVET curated collection.