Metallic tentacles wrapped around the head, giant sparkling wings on the back, cobweb of wires dropping from the shoulders, spires sticking from the elbows – no, these are not the attributes for a new fantasy movie but new exceptional jewelry by Czech designer Katerina Reichova.
In the modern world of spoiled fashionistas, it seems almost impossible to produce something original, singular. Nonetheless, jewelry of this petite woman, who was sitting shyly on a chair in the middle of a tiny, dimly lit shared studio on the outskirts of Prague, manages to astonish Czech and international audience alike not only with its form and size but also by its location on the body.
“It always surprised me that other jewelry designers rarely experiment with the genre and material,” says Reichova. “And I love experimenting not only with the material but I focus on exploring possibilities of innovative placement of the jewelry on the body and thus inventing new forms.”
Reichova debuted as a jewelry designer five years ago when she was studying at the Institute of Art and Design in Plzen. Before, she was working with ceramics but her interest in everything extraordinary and an urge for experiments pushed Reichova away from this traditional and restricted type of art.
The admirer of fantasy and sci-fi literature and inveterate “Star Wars” fan Reichova chose futurism as her primary genre. “It allows me to experiment with material and form,” explains the designer. When she first came to the jewelry studio, her mentor, Mr. Nowak, gave her 30 minutes to come up with a topic of focus for the next three years. Young and indecisive student, Reichova, was shocked and startled by the task. She was thinking about her interests and hobbies, and suddenly it struck her. Fifteen minutes later, she was already standing in front of her mentor. “Only Futurism” – were the words that defined her artistic career for much longer than the initial three years.
Sketches of recently designed jewelry are scattered around her studio, material for which still blinks and sparkles from the shelves of the big wardrobe located next to the wooden table. Numerous plastic boxes are placed on top of one another creating a small fortress. From one of the boxes Reichova takes out a “piping” fresh pair of rings – her favorite type of jewelry – and puts them under the lamp light that immediately reflects from the grounded surface of the jewelry casting iridescent highlights.
It seems that massive, bulky machining apparatus in the remote corner of Reichova’s studio got here by accident from a nearby blacksmith studio. And how could it possibly be related to Reichova’s unearthly and utter jewelry? The designer laughs and explains that she is a frequent user of these deterrent machines. Reichova is not a traditional jeweler – she prefers steel’s proximity and durability to silver’s compliance. It took her three years and endless number of unsuccessful attempts and lots of ruined material to master her skills and to learn how to produce a final piece at once.
Reichova distinctly remembers spherically shaped earing – her first jewelry – and she recalls how proud she was with the name that she came up for it. She called it Mullatem which if read backwards means Metallum, the Latin word for “metal”. Now she develops a series of Mullatem models with each one resembling less jewelry and more a piece of art. The new collection of Mullatems made of chirurgical steel is almost completed and awaits its turn to be presented on the prestigious Italian design competition in the next season.
“She is still considered to be a very young designer,” says the chief editor and PR manager of the GATE magazine Natalia Rajchert. “But her innovative ideas, amazing technique, and ambitions will definitely bring her fame in the future”.
However, the ladder to success was thorny for the young designer. Due to the high competition on the Czech jewelry market and nearly 100 per cent commission that Czech shops collect from selling the designers’ works Reichova decided to sell her work on the Internet. She had little idea of how to find new clients and sponsors, make good, stylish pictures, where to promote her works and many other details that are not taught at the University. She had to learn to do everything on her own and it was the hardest thing she had to go through so far. No one could make the right pictures of the jewelry and caption what the designer was looking for, fashion magazines reluctantly replied to her emails, demand on Reichova’s jewelry on the internet was really low.
“I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be successful,” says Reichova. “Sometimes I was ready to give up but the support of my friends encouraged me and I kept working.”
Reichova’s persistence and diligence soon yielded fruits. Now, she exhibits and sells her work in numerous galleries and studios all around Czech Republic; famous fashion magazines such as the Wall Street Journal want to use her jewelry in their publications; posters of her inspirational glasses were all around Prague promoting the Czech Design Fashion Week in Prague 2015.
Pensively Reichova speaks about her plans. The goal for now is to open her own jewelry shop and a showroom somewhere in the center of Prague. Thus, Reichova would be released from the grips of the gallery owners with their ridiculously high rates and never-ending private orders, and could make her jewelry more affordable for the public.
“I know the new showroom would cost me a fortune,” says the designer. “But that is what I want and for sure I would decorate it myself and make it look futuristic.”
Cover photo courtesy of Katerina Reichova