Projects at Poepke: Joao Vaz

July 19th, 2014




Joao Vaz creates strong architectural jewellery with an almost microscopic attention to detail. His Dark-Matter collection is a careful balance of opposites: fragility versus strength, bold minimalism versus delicate detailing, metallic versus synthetic, past versus future. In terms of production there is again more to Vaz’s work than meets the eye, with the use of new jewellery technologies, such as 3D printing and acrylic tension setting, alongside a strong dedication to sustainable and responsible practices. Creating work that has an impact while respecting the fragility of our world and its people is Vaz’s signature; a message which, viewed through the lens of the Dark-Matter collection, has a poetically sci-fi ring to it.

We spoke to Vaz about his earliest experimentations with jewellery, the development of this collection and his practices in the lead up to his Project at Poepke.



Joao, how long have you been interested in making  jewellery? How did this begin for you?

I’ve always loved jewellery and fashion, since I was a child. My first pieces were rings made with paper and buttons. It became more serious when I was planning on moving to the UK at the age of 18 to study and had to chose between the two. This was 12 years ago. I chose jewellery then and I would choose it now.

You have a very particular aesthetic – to me, there’s a lot of tension in your work. Is playing different elements off of each other something that particularly interests you in the making of a collection, or is this just something that emerges after the fact?

Dark-Matter was about trying to define what my aesthetic looks like. I guess it just takes a very long time for all designers, artists, jewellers, to finally arrive at a place in their work that somehow starts to really look like ‘their’ work. Dark-Matter is a very important collection for me because achieving this sense of truthfulness was the main objective. I never thought about it in terms of ‘tension’ between elements, but you might be perfectly right. I find it difficult to narrow down my visual language because there are so many things that I’m interested in, and so many of them are contradictory. Perhaps these conflicts managed to persist all the way to the end.




Could you give us some insight into this collection in particular, Dark-Matter? What sorts of reference points were you working from in conceiving of these pieces?

I’ll try and keep this short. The main objective was to create a collection that exposed my ‘true’ aesthetic. I had to do a lot of investigation to get to the final result. I looked at all of these things that had always inspired me: Bjork, Gaudi, Queen Elizabeth I, etc.; then I wrote down all of these words that are important to my work and that I want to achieve with it, like narrative and craftsmanship and technological developments. I then looked at my sketch books and collected different ideas and concepts that I had thought of before.

I tried to really understand what has always been a constant in my work and then exacerbate it: the fact that no surface is left untouched (all the metal pieces), developing existing jewellery techniques (acrylic tension setting) and imagining an emotional landscape for the pieces that contemplates on the extraordinary (Landscape choker and Cathedral necklace).

You are very particular about your practices: where you source from, who you work with. Could you offer us a little more insight into your processes?

All of the pieces are done in my studio in Sydney, with the exception of the 3D printing which is manufactured in the Netherlands. All the metal is cast in Marrickville by a company called Pure Casting using Australian sourced brass and silver. The laser cutting cutting is done down the road from my studio by Modelcraft. I don’t use natural gems, which are extracted from countries I believe can’t truly regulate the processes involved, which led me to use Australian sapphires (sourced in Australia), hydro rubies (manmade) and cubic zirconias (manmade).



What is the philosophy behind this?

Responsible manufacturing is really quite important to me and there’s so much more that I can do. It’s definitely a work in progress, much like everything else. Ultimately I want to create a business that as it grows it considers more and more aspects of the surrounding social and environmental landscape. I dream that one day we’ll only use pure organic beeswax for all our castings!

I believe that if the thought is there from the outset and you remind yourself everyday that there’s really no point in creating beautiful pieces of jewellery at the cost of the planet and the people in it, it sort of becomes part of the design process, another creative challenge that must be accomplished.

For those who aren’t as familiar with your work or this collection, what should they expect to discover in your Project at Poepke?

A world of beauty, elegance and decadence. The beginning of something truly incredible in a store that believes and supports Australian design.


All images are courtesy of Joao Vaz, with lookbook photography by Eleanor Ackland and behind the scenes photography by Catherine Buman.

Joao Vaz’s Project at Poepke begins this Monday 21 July and continues through the coming months.

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  1. […] Sydney-based jewellery designer Joao Vaz, who you may remember from his previous Project at Poepke, returns with a new collection: […]

    Pingback by POEPKE — July 1, 2015 @ 11:52 am

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