Kria Jewelry | Designer Interview

Jóhanna Methúsalemsdóttir is the creative mind behind Kría jewelry. Her inspiration came from finding a small skeleton from a particularly perseverant and tenacious bird, the Arctic Tern (in Icelandic: Kría), which is famous for its migration and can fly up to about ninety thousand km in one year.
Since then she has worked solely around the concept of nature in her designs, with pieces that directly emulate animal bones and elements found in nature. Taking it a step further, she strongly emphasizes sustainability and social responsibility in the production of her pieces, guaranteeing that each item is made from recycled metals and ethically sourced materials.

Along with the new collection “Incarnation”, Kría’s most recent project is a collaboration with Bára Hólmgeirsdóttir of Aftur, an Icelandic clothing brand that also emphasizes sustainability, and together they’ve made a necklace which can be bougth at Aftur’s store on Laugavegur in central Reykjavík.
Because both designers have strong principles surrounding environmentalism and sustainability, the necklace is adorned with items from previous Kría collections made from recycled metals – showing that things are usually far from being as disposable as we percieve them to be and that practically anything has the ability to be reused and gain new life.
The necklace was showcased at Aftur as a DesignMarch event and I went to have a look at the result of this interesting co-creation.
Instantly I was fascinated by the displays which, along with the jewelry, featured showpieces of gilded skulls and bones that were striking in a beautiful and darkly way, both delicate and powerful at the same time.

I asked Jóhanna a few questions to get a better understanding of the project and of Kría.

Kria-Jewelry

What is the essence of Kría design?

I am not quite sure because Kría is an ever-evoling thing. It just is all together.

What was the inspiration for the new collection?

Working with recycled metal to become sustainable and being able to stand by my designs knowing I have little impact on the earth in making them.
We decided to take the idea all the way and rework some of the existing shapes and bones and give them a new life. You see familiar shapes manipulated and becoming something else as well as new ones, but all staying true to Kría.

Your collection includes a strong reference to nature and animals, what does that mean to you on a personal level?

Kría is a reflection of my relationship to Nature on a personal level. I am curious about it and the way I work makes the relationship very intimate.

How important is sustainability and environmentalism for a contemporary designer?

I think it should be most important at this point since the resources are available and there is really no reason not to. Responsibility is the way forward.

How do you implement those principals in your designs?

I am only working with recycled metal now, and all my jewelry is made in New York by myself and other hard-working professionals who are paid fairly for their work. This is the same for our packaging as well.

How did the collaboration with Aftur come about and did common principals concerning sustainability play a part?

We have been friends for a long time and have shared the same values as far as that is concerned, so it just made sense to us to do a piece together.

Has working with a clothing designer impacted your creative process?

It really did not impact my creative process at all since we worked on it from different countries and pretty much were on the same page the whole time as to what it was that we were trying to do. I made the piece here in New York.

How does scandinavian design rank on the global market, in your opinion?

I really only know a handful of designers being that I don’t really follow fashion too much. I am not really aware of any here in New York but then again I am not really aware of many designers. Ha-ha-ha.
That being said, I feel very strongly that there are a couple of Icelandic designers I think could take over the world. Jör in particular. They blew my mind at RFF.

Does Icelandic design sell itself or do designers need to be more aggressive?

I don’t think any design sells itself alone and being Icelandic is no exception. I also feel that being aggressive gets you nowhere if you don’t have a good product and aren’t consistent as a designer. Professionalism and a good marketing strategy can go a long way. Understand your customer and don’t abandon them.

Name one ideal person who you would like to see wear your design.

My grandmother.

You chose to unveil your new collection as a DesignMarch event. How important is a festival like DesignMarch for a designer?

It seemed like a good opportunity to launch my new collection, Incarnation, at the same time as introducing the collaboration piece with Aftur since Kria now is only working in recycled metals and Aftur and Kria share that value.
I also had been contacted by some press people, so it made sense to come and take full advantage of the fact that although I am in New York, my roots are in Iceland and my jewelry has been selling very well over there.
I think an event like this is great because it’s over a short time and a lot of people get to show their talent and meet press and perhaps buyers that they otherwise might not.

And finally, what’s next for Kría designs?

To continue with an open mind and an open heart, and maybe more collaborations even.

Kria-Jewelry

Kria-Jewelry

Kria-Jewelry

Kria-Jewelry

Kria-Jewelry

Kria-Jewelry

Photos by Ellen Inga

For more information about Kría visit www.kriajewelry.com