Kristen Malan Strikes Gold

Kristen Malan strikes Gold

Written by Jennifer Searle  

Monday, 09 November 2009

Kristen Malan fell into jewellery design after a successful career in advertising and marketing. She definitely showed her design stripes when she won first prize at the AuDITIONS Urban Tribes design competition.

A professional jewellery designer, took first prize at the AuDITIONS Urban Tribes design competition. The judges were unanimous in selecting Kristen Malan"s 18-carat gold and Perspex bubble arm piece, Molecular Truth, and gold sickle-weave cell phone cage, Hands Off! as the winning entry.

Eduard Classen followed her in second place with his gold and Perspex warrior arm piece The Pollinator and yellow gold facial decoration Nose Job. Third prize went to Lincoln Mokoena for his innovative Mag Rim Ring and art deco inspired cuff links, Deco & Wine Cellar Fellow.

While Malan was always drawn to colour, she only officially opened her own jewellery design business in June 2008 after a successful career in advertising and marketing. She decided to enter the AuDITIONS competition because in her opinion it is the most prestigious design competition in South Africa. “The brief was so amazing it just grabbed me. I used to respond to interesting briefs in my career in advertising and when I read this brief my past career leapt to the fore,” she said. “I thought it was such a fantastic opportunity especially since AngloGold was offering the gold to work with. Many jewellery design competitions rely on you to find a sponsor to manufacture your designs.”

Each entrant had to submit two designs, which were conceptualised for fictitious clients based on two of the eight Urban Tribes characters. These characters include: The Futurist, Extreme Street, Hip Hop Homeboy, Bond, Jabulani Bond, Old Money Honey, The Pampered Princess, The Black Gold Prince and The Gold Digger. The innovative Urban Tribes theme was created to nudge designers beyond conventional realms of design. Trend analyst and Urban Tribes judge Dion Chang conceptualised the eight tribe characters that represent various cross-sections of contemporary South African society.

Malan"s winning designs were created for The Futurist (Molecular Truth) and Extreme Street (Hands Off!). “I thought these two characters had the most to say,” she explained. “The idea of bearing the cell phone holder boldly on his chest was definitely a comment on how people engage with each other. When I grew up people chatted with each other around a dinner table, but now people communicate via cell phones. I think by designing such an aggressive piece which is almost tattoo-like in appearance and has a secret lever to release the phone makes a social comment about how we communicate.” The Futurist appealed to Malan as she is very environmentally conscious and considered the as a badge of honour to draw attention to reducing our carbon footprint and saving our planet. “It makes reference to saving our planet on a molecular level and limiting chemicals and carbon emissions, which is something we need to address,” she said and added that the piece is so bold it can also be placed on a desk to draw attention to the need to care for our planet.

The need to care for our planet was also reflected in the use of Perspex. “Perspex is very vulnerable, it attracts dust and if you just so much as look at it wrong it can scratch, which I think is a comment on the fragility of our planet.” She said that combining Perspex and gold was challenging. “Technically the arm piece was difficult and we had to return to the basic skills of goldsmithing with a hammer. Each [Perspex] ball was created individually and then shaped to stack onto the bangle. We had to use glue to attach the balls but we wanted this to look as seamless as possible so the jeweler only had one chance to attach the balls perfectly in place.”
Over 1000 designers enter the competition, and only 11 finalists were selected to showcase their designs at the gala event at the Turbine Hall in Newtown last night. The other finalist designers who contributed to the Urban Tribes collection alongside the winners are TshepoDitshego, Sid Forman, Trevor Lewis, Desmond Mapedi, Tiffany Marx, ZénreRabé, OrianaTodesco and Kyle Visser.

Celebrity designers Louise Carver, LoyisoBala, Carl Beukes and the pop band Jamali, who each contributed designs to the collection, also presented their gold pieces at the event. While their creations were not eligible for judging, the pieces are included in the Urban Tribes collection. Carver designed The Carver Legacy wrist cuff for the Old Money Honey character, Beukes designed The Florrior arm piece for The Futurist character, Bala designed the Egoli neckpiece for Hip Hop Homeboy and Jamali designed The Golden Rose for The Gold Digger.
Desmond Mapedi
Eduard Claasen (Second Place Winner)
Lincoln Mokoena (Third Place Winner)

Kyle Visser
Tiffany Marks
Sid Forman
Trevor Lewis