Studio Collect - Working in a Collective
At De Gouden Straatjes, we bring together designers with very different backgrounds, design processes and experiences. In this series we speak to several designers about their experiences of working as jewellers in Antwerp’s Golden Streets.
Studio Collect is the result of a collaboration between Hermien, Saskia, Magaly and Hannah. Only 6 years old, Studio Collect is one of the youngest brands in De Gouden Straatjes and their shop at 13 Steenhouwersvest is the place to go for simple yet inventive jewellery with a strong and fresh look. We visited Studio Collect’s Antwerp atelier and spoke to Saskia on the brand’s sixth birthday about Antwerp, de Gouden Straatjes and designing as a four:
Hi Saskia, can you tell us how studio collect began?
We all studied together at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and it quickly became apparent that we all shared the same vision when it came to jewellery design.
We wanted to make wearable, accessible pieces for a broad public, while retaining an inventive and artistic angle. After graduating we rented a space together in an old factory and established our atelier. At the start we were each working on our own projects but it wasn’t long before we decided to work together, and our first collection as studio collect come out in 2013 - six years ago today!
Is the design process always a collective effort?
Yes, everything we make is designed by all four of us. We decide on a theme or a topic; which colours and techniques we’re going to use, and then we go away and make small 3D tests and sketches.
Every piece has input from all four of us. If you come into our shop you won’t see four distinct styles side by side as each piece we create is the result of a collaborative process.
Why did you choose Antwerp as a base for your brand?
Hannah and I grew up in Antwerp and Magaly and Hermien moved here during our studies and developed their own bond with the city. Despite being small, Antwerp is a city known for creativity and an open-minded mentality and a lot of interesting things happen here. Of course its also a great location for jewellery, because of all the diamonds, setters and engravers based in the city - Its ideal for working with craftsmen.
With so many jewellers based in the area, do you ever feel a sense of competition?
Although there are many brands also making engagement rings, wedding rings and custom made pieces, everybody within De Gouden Straatjes has their own speciality and their own identity, so I don’t really feel competitive with other brands. With lots of jewellery designers based in such a small area we often get people asking “isn’t it dangerous for you to be based here?” Whether we’re based here or elsewhere, the others will still be here - so why not group ourselves together?
If people are looking for a piece of jewellery, they can come to this area, receive a map with all the shops, and be able to to find the brand that best suits what they’re looking for. When a customer comes in looking for a style that I know won’t be in our collection I will send them to one of the other brands in the area - in that sense we can strengthen and support each other. Working in the same industry means we know the positives and the negatives and its great that we can swap experiences and share advice.