The story began while studying at Birmingham City University School of Jewellery under the ERASMUS exchange programme, where Vilnius Academy of Arts researcher Ieva Laskevičiūtė began to form her personal approach to combining theoretical research, experimentation, unconventional materials and knowledge of metal craft. She started looking for ways to replace the traditional materials used in jewellery and design with alternative, more environmentally friendly ones. Upon returning to Lithuania, she explored the topic in the Bachelor’s thesis and the Reload collection was born.
“At that time, the knowledge I brought with me and the different design research seemed to be still quite fresh on the horizon of Lithuanian artistic jewellery. I am always fascinated by the search for novelty, for what you don’t fully know and what poses a challenge, the first results of the tests could only be guessed,” says I. Laskevičiūtė.
The collection is made from minerals extracted from the recycled eggshells, a waste product of the food industry. Their chemical composition corresponds to the carbonate class of rocks found in the natural environment. The author analyses the chemical and aesthetic relationship between the minerals calcite, aragonite, dolomite and chicken eggshells. The main element of the product, the eggshell, conveys an ecological circular transformation: earth – bird – man – earth.
Focus on reducing the human footprint in nature
The jewellery collection brings attention to consumerism, the footprint left by human rubbish in nature, finite resources and the idea of zero waste. The variety and choice of jewellery available on the market is great, but only a small number of pieces are unique and exclusive in form and materials. More and more people are interested in original works and are looking for more original contemporary design solutions. The project’s product development is attractive in its idea of creating conceptual jewellery by conserving natural resources and recycling relevant food waste. For the jewellery collection, recognisable shapes that recur in nature are chosen and innovative material and aesthetic jewellery is created, giving a new emotional charge to the consumer. The fascinating, never-ending cyclicality of nature is a constant reminder of the harmony and unity of this world. The product that is created replicates a moment in nature’s cycle: the same minerals circulate from the stone to the shell, and the shell back to the stone – the stone is reprogrammed for new usage.
Author’s ambitions and desired results
The aim is to purify the mass of eggshells to the most sustainable, green and visually appealing form possible by collaborating with specialists in various fields. The author also has ideas for combining the components used with other waste materials: the desire is to apply the additional knowledge to other areas, not only jewellery.
Entrepreneurship programme helps to commercialise the product
“The mentoring provided by the professionals at the Vilnius Academy of Arts and their direct contribution to the project really made me rethink the idea, the concept and the material itself.” Ieva says that the entrepreneurship programme is a great opportunity to see how relevant the product really is. Different opinions and shared knowledge of various professionals provided new insights, and allowed the designer to discover new information and gain a fresh perspective. The financial support was very valuable and has enabled the depth of research and exploration to emerge.
International attention to the collection
The jewellery collection Reloaded Stones is receiving increasing international attention. I was presented at the London Design Festival in 2021, and this year’s international exhibition at Sieraad in Amsterdam. Ieva participated in the exhibition together with other students and teachers of the Vilnius Academy of Arts. During the pandemic year, the exhibition did not take place, which affected the content – the creators presented a lot of portable art jewellery with commercial potential, as a result Ieva’s work received a lot of attention. The more prominent jewellers with larger stands could afford more and showed less adaptable, bolder solutions. Ieva identifies her contacts with artists and galleries as her greatest asset gained from the show and is pleased with the changes: “It’s great to see more and more attention being paid to materials and the weight of ideas in the jewellery field. It’s as if new rules of the game are being created, and the younger generation is slowly trying to be included, and they are becoming more and more visible in the exhibition.” In 2022 the designer’s collection was also exhibited at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven as part of the InoAcademy project.