Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

Contemporary jewellery designer Filip Vanas moved to Ireland the day after he graduated from university and worked in an architecture firm for four years here before turning to jewellery design when recession hit.

Photo of Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

He had completed some summer courses in jewellery design at NCAD with renowned jeweller Erika Marks and then subscribed to a longer course under her tutelage. “This really helped me to come up with the style of jewellery I do now,” he says. Having a background in architecture also helped. 

“I would say that my background in architecture helped in that I already knew about design processes. I already had a good idea of composition, sketching, giving an idea shape, 3D imagining and so on, so it was easy for me to adjust to jewellery design. The technical part was very interesting for me too —  exploring working with metal, its technical aspect — I really enjoyed that.” 

Photo of Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

The designer says that he was quite naive at the outset of his business. “I really thought that I could just start a business and then it would become my job straight away. I think I underestimated how much work it was to build a brand and to work at jewellery professionally. It was a leap in the dark — I really had no idea but because I had no other job at the time I went for it.” 

Filip says that while selling his product at markets introduced him to some loyal customers, markets did not really prove to be an ideal environment in which to sell the type of jewellery he makes, and therefore he soon moved to online selling.

Photo of Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

Through consultation his brand emerged. “I realised that I had to have logic to what I was doing. At the start I was doing different things, creating various styles. But it was too random and was not coherent. In order for a brand to have some identity you cannot have too many styles. I wanted to capture a signature style — something that was unique and different enough to be recognisable but also broad enough that it could include various pieces of jewellery. It was about narrowing things down and then developing the ranges into actual collections.”

Now, he says that simplicity, simple lines and colour are the hallmarks of his brand. “I look at the composition and shapes in detail. The shape has the right proportions and the colour of the anodised aluminium emphasises those simple shapes. I use a simple contrast of materials so I use stainless steel with sterling silver or rubber — simple contrast and simple shapes and bringing things back to the basics of aesthetics.”

Photo of Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

The aluminium gives the designer many opportunities, he says, in terms of the colour emphasising the shape, but also in terms of the lightness of material, thus allowing him to create pieces that are robust in size but easy to wear. As well as the anodised aluminium, he also uses epoxy resin which similarly allows him to obtain the trademark bright colours of his designs.

Filip colours the aluminium for his designs himself — a chemical process which took him some time to fine-tune. The surface of the aluminium is coated with aluminium oxide which is hard and scratch resistant. It is then immersed in a dye to create the metallic, yet translucent look of his pieces. 

“Doing the colouring process myself gives me the most versatility in terms of what I want to produce,” he says. “As well as giving me complete control over the quality. I have tried to bring as many processes in-house as possible which means that the jewellery is truly handmade in Ireland and allows for a shorter lead time for customers.”

Photo of Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

His colourful jewellery tends to attract creative people who are, perhaps, confident in their own taste. “I have found, in conversation with customers, that they tend to be graphic designers, architects etc. so the jewellery appeals to people with similar minds to me perhaps. I also have clients who are purely attracted by the colour of the jewellery rather than by the fact that it is 'contemporary design'.”

Filip makes jewellery for both men and women and says that, in his experience, the men who like his jewellery can become very loyal customers. “I think they are particular about what they like but once they find something that they like they tend to stick to it,” he says. 

Photo of Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

In contrast to his contemporary jewellery designs, Filip also creates his  Silverdoodle range of jewellery — a bespoke product inspired by the artwork of his own children. Customers can send him a photo or scanned image of their children’s artwork which he then traces over, turns into 3D, casts in silver and colours using epoxy resin. 


Photo of Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

The result is an extremely cute and personal jewellery item that has proven very popular with parents and grandparents but also with the children themselves who are proud to see their own drawings turned into a wearable piece of art. Such gifts prove very popular as First Holy Communion gifts, in particular, according to the designer.

Myself and my wife were looking for presents for our own parents and we realised that we wanted to give them something personal and that related to our children. I was looking at my kids’ pictures on the wall and it clicked with me — a jewellery piece inspired by, or made from, a child’s drawing.”

Photo of Colour and Shape: Filip Vanas' Contemporary Designs

The jewellery designer and maker has recently moved into a newly refurbished studio and shop space in the Marlay Craft Courtyard in Marlay Park in Dublin’s Rathfarnham. “People can see me at work in the studio which is wonderful as they can see the connection between the making process and the finished product,” he says. 

Filip Vanas’ range of jewellery is available at the Marlay Craft Courtyard in Marlay Park, Dublin 14 as well as from selected stockists including Designyard and The Collective in Dublin.

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