09 / 10 / 2014
Hi Vanessa. Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am lucky enough to be in charge of the Sessun jewellery range. I live in Casablanca in Morocco.
How did you become involved in jewellery design?
I originally trained as a graphic designer but went on to study social sciences and Slavic studies for a few years…that’s where the name Vanska comes from ☺. As for jewellery design, I am self-taught. I have learnt mainly through trial and error and working with other people…
How would you describe your relationship with Sessun?
Like a wonderful novel, an amazing story….that would take years to tell!
I first met Emma in Montpellier when I was about 18 or 19. I was dressed all in leather, she was dressed all in denim….we became friends! So it seemed natural that a few years later, in 1996, we began working together on creating Sessun.
In the early days of Sessun Emma and I both spent time travelling round South America. I loved their craftsmanship and design. I’m very sensitive to beautiful things!
When we were in Ecuador, whilst Emma was designing colourful wool jumpers that became Sessun’s first hit, I was designing a range of printed ceramics in Cuenca.
When we returned to France, I worked on creating Sessun’s visual identity. For example, I designed the little four-pointed star which became the Sessun logo, I did the textile design too (the motif on the famous Piou bag) and I was in charge of the interior design of our stands and boutiques.
I really enjoyed being part of Sessun’s debut with Emma. We may have been a bit green, but we were full of enthusiasm and were determined to create a label that would reflect our style season after season.
There was also the MUESLI project I did with Sundae, François Romain Dupont and other “post-graffiti’ artists like us. We organised a series of exhibitions at the beginning of the noughties.
When I moved to Morocco in 2005, I wanted to make jewellery that was inspired by the work of local craftsmen.
I’m so lucky to work with Emma. She has always been interested in my ideas and has always had faith in me. Sessun is a friendly company to work for. Most people working there have been there for 10 years or more. It’s like a family that continues to grow and develop without losing its identity.
I think this is partly due to the fact that Sessun is based in Marseille. They all have a lot of experience and are very creative but function like a family. Everyone started out really young– and now there is a baby-boom in the office so they’ll probably have to open a crèche soon!
How would you describe your designs?
Delicate, unconventional, fresh, animal, joyous, refined. Something fun and easy to wear!
What raw material(s) do you work with? Which is your favourite?
I like them all. It’s like colour: it’s the contrasts between things that makes them work!
I love mother-of-pearl and gold, fabric or dyed shells set in metal, ceramic beads next to wooden beads…
How do you work? Where do you get your ideas from? Tell us about what inspires you.
There are no set rules… I might base a design on something from the collection, like one of Caroline Melis’ beautiful drawings for example.
Or I might invent new shapes based upon something from my own personal design language.
Traditional geometric shapes, like all the different sorts of crosses, are an endless source of inspiration. An architectural detail can also find its way into one of my designs.
I also like the idea of sampling: taking bits of old pieces of jewellery (that I love to collect) and updating them.
What is your favourite piece out of all your designs and why?
Honestly, I love them all and I wear them all too…. what I really like doing is combining two pieces together to tell a story. Like these two necklaces “snake and bird”. I wear them a lot at the moment.
I’ve also been wearing this ring with a seed mounted on a metal bead setting.
Describe your typical day as a jewellery designer. And your workshop.
My team and I will spend time doing research: we put together new designs, string beads together, put them together, pull them apart…
I’ll make a visit to the craftsmen in their own workshops (jewellers and fabric / trimmings makers) who produce what we need outside our workshop.
I’ll draw ideas for new pieces on one of my hundreds of notebooks or on the back of any old piece of paper I find lying around. I’ll look after the logistics side: endless incoming and outgoing parcels.
Added to this I often have to travel on business for meetings with our suppliers, the press, the Sessun team etc.
Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
A range based on recycled silk. Another range using seeds like precious stones. I am experimenting with resins too….