Wabi Sabi: Beautifully imperfect jewellery
By Eva-Kristin U. Pedersen | Photos: Ivan Ortegon
What does a Japanese philosophy that sees beauty in imperfection have to do with jewellery made in northern Norway?
Ann-Merete S. Øines and Dagmar Mildes were looking for common ground for their new jewellery company when they were introduced to the Wabi Sabi philosophy by a friend. Both immediately fell for the approach, and saw its potential in jewellery-making.
“When you’ve lived for a bit, you know that experiences, both good and bad, make you stronger. You also understand that the essence of all these experiences is beauty,” Øines says.
The philosophy formed the foundation of the brand and, in 2015, they launched Wabi Sabi together in a backyard in Tromsø.
A handmade look, inspired by Arctic nature
In practice, this means that pieces produced by Wabi Sabi do not look industrialised or overly symmetrical. They are supposed to look handcrafted. Øines and Mildes even had to exclude one collection to make all of their work fit the philosophy. “It was too perfect,” Øines says, smiling.
While a Japanese philosophy is the guiding light, day-to-day inspiration is much more local. “Our inspiration is the city of Tromsø and the arctic nature we’re surrounded by,” Øines explains and points to the collection Fråst, inspired by the frost you often see on snow on really cold days.
While her partner Mildes is a professional goldsmith, Øines’ choice to pursue jewellery design was less obvious. She was a marketing specialist who, one evening, sat down by the kitchen table and started creating. “I’ve always loved design and I really wanted to create something,” Øines says.
Their workshop and primary in-person store is in the old Mack brewery backyard in Tromsø, but Wabi Sabi sells their unique pieces through an online store. Alongside handmade pieces in gold and silver, they have a large collection of precious stones and diamonds. The label is also expanding to include more jewellery for men, as well as gender-neutral collections.
Personalised pieces and workshops
At their workshop in Tromsø, Wabi Sabi also offers clients the chance to make their own jewellery during an exhilarating three-hour workshop.
“Many don’t even want a coffee break, they are completely absorbed by the work,” Øines laughs, adding that workshops are closely supervised and are suitable for everyone, regardless of skillset. “It feels good to make something new,” says Øines.
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