One On One: Sundus Talpur

Academically trained as a sculptor, Sundus Talpur delved into the world of jewels after getting inspired by her mother who has been designing jewellery for the past 15 years. She talks about her design philosophy and every little detail that goes into creating her pieces

How and when did you get into jewellery design?

My mother is a jewellery designer since the past 15 years, so that’s really where I got it from. After I graduated from college, I was a sculptor and had full access to  jeweller workshops. I used it for my sculpture making and used goldsmithering techniques for my art work. I am a maker, and it was in the similarity of process that I found my true calling. My first gold cuff was a one-off piece that I had entirely carved and sculpted by hand, I cast it in 22k gold and it marked the beginning of this journey. After launching a small collection at Aura Art Jewellery, I went to England to do my Masters in Jewellery Design from Central Saint Martins and then went on to launch my first collection after my MA.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?

When I design, I look at traditions and practices from within our culture and use those as my design inspiration, to create something new and contemporary that is still culturally and traditionally rich. If you’ve seen any of my work, it’s very organic, and texture based in 22k gold. All my pieces take inspiration from a type of textile, whether it be weaves, laces and now more culturally appropriate and heritage textiles. The connection with textiles has become my brand identity, and makes my work texturally rich.

What makes your designs unique and distinct from others?

I am what we call a ‘designer-maker’. All my pieces are hand-made and mostly only one offs, which makes it stand out in our precious jewellery market. What also makes my pieces unique is the idea of taking new contemporary designs while incorporating traditional trends of gold jewellery.

Tell us about your latest collection?

‘Dorr’ is a collection of 22k gold jewellery that draws inspiration from South Asian textiles. The design is contemporary and wearable, it’s made of statement pieces with sculptural qualities yet it speaks of our textile heritage, keeping up with traditions of wearing 22k gold jewellery. The heart of this project is in the use of philanthropy in luxury design. Each jewellery element contains the ‘fired out’ details of hand-weave and embroidery. The woven textiles, and embroideries used to create the textures of each piece were purchased from artisans in Hala and the Umerkot district of Sindh. A percentile of the profit will be given back to the artisan communities involved in the making of this collection.

Your favourite design from your collection and why?

My Hurnich and weaved bead necklace is my favourite, it’s an amalgamation of all things my brand stands for. It’s a play of delicate forms and textures, where each bead and motif was sculpted by hand. It’s a full gold necklace, which is contemporary and easy to pair with eastern and western dresses.

What is your design philosophy?

The idea is to take the tradition of wearing gold jewellery and setting it in the contemporary. I think my product has appealed to all people who love metal but don’t wear gold unless it is in a traditional setting. I want my designs to be new and wearable, yet they are timeless in their nature. It’s not about purchasing but investing in a piece.

What are the current trends in jewellery?

Statement jewellery! To wear a statement necklace and just pair it with diamond studs, or pearl tops, we don’t have to be all ‘matchy matchy’. Wear one ring or cuff and just let that do the talking.

What is the biggest faux pas a woman can make when wearing jewellery?

Over doing it; everything in the locker does not have to be on you! Wear jewellery that brings out your personality, doesn’t drown it.

Where do you see yourself and your label in the next 4-5 years?

My current plan is to build the brand locally, and then InshAllah I’d like to see my product in the international market in due time.

How do you look at the market here and how do you want to improve it through your work?

I’m not out to improve the market, we have an amazing jewellery industry – it just needs a proper platform. We have great jewellery designers and craftsmen yet all the work is pushed into ‘accessories’ right with shoes and bags. Not that I’m undermining anything else, but jewellery, like all other products needs to be given a proper place in the fashion industry. This is an area where we need to look at international jewellery and fashion industries and take inspiration from there.

A celebrity you’d like to see your designs on?

I’d love to see my stuff on Meesha Shafi. She stands for all the things I believe in, she knows how to make a statement. I’d love to see how my pieces could be styled on her.

Your favourite jewellery designer?

I think my favourite international jeweller is the late Andrew Grima. His work really speaks to me and he was one of the pioneers of breaking tradition when it comes to precious fine jewellery.

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