“I'm more of an artist than designer”
“I’m so happy when someone tells me they can’t leave the house without a certain ring or necklace, that the jewelry has become a part of their person, almost like an armour that’s protecting and empowering. This is the reason why I create.”
Swedish jeweler, Maria Nilsdotter wants people to feel and also relate to her jewelry. Her inspiration always starts with an idea of a kind of world she wants to build, with motifs usually deriving from nature and the animal kingdom. Nilsdotter’s latest artifacts are inspired by her daughter’s spooky drawings and Freddie Mercury, resulting in an ingenious collection of interesting characters and objects. Currently, Nilsdotter is finishing a new collection which varyies a bit from her earlier collections.
Odalisque had the pleasure to meet Maria Nilsdotter and discuss her work.
Tell us about your current work. How does this collection differ from your previous?
The jewelry I'm working on now is quite sculptural and figurative, feminine and strong, yet without shouting a message. It's a bit different from my other work while still remaining in the same universe. I’m also working on a series of small sculptures, and a scented candle.
How do each of you collections begin?
The starting point can be anything; a poem, a book or an image. The research and sketching is a very important part of my work, this is where I develop the story. For me the sketching and model making is very meditative and I can even lose myself in this work. I then go on to make samples before finalizing the collection. Often, I go immediately on to the next idea.
Sometimes, while working on one concept, another idea pops into mind and I create a small collection on the side. For example, I found some of my drawings of monsters that my daughter made and they inspired me to make the Spooky Collection. Other times I just feel the need to create, for example, I made a 20cm silver moon sphere adorned with precious stones, not for a specific reason or with a commercial thought in mind, just because I wanted to see how it would look.
Do you ever create any pieces with someone special in mind?
Usually, I don’t create with a specific person in mind, I think the person wearing her the jewelry makes it come to life and each piece is interpreted differently depending on who’s wearing it. I create with a story or an emotion in mind, to make people feel and relate to my jewelry.
Sometimes I’ll design a piece with a specific person in mind, like the gold lioness ring I made for Noomi Rapace. She’s got that lioness power; explosive and fierce, yet beautiful and protective. She’s such a great support to me and I love the way she wears my jewelry.
Tell us about your Superstar ring?
The ring was inspired by Freddie Mercury. I am fascinated with him and his magnetic personality. Watching old videos and documentaries with him was an obsession that comforted me when I was going through a hard time and it resulted in a whole Freddie collection. For me a superstar is somebody who just draws your attention unapologetically, it can be anybody. My friend Maria Montti for example; she’s got this glow around her, an aura that just makes everybody feel amazing. She’s also a superstar.
Tell me about your fine jewelry. What material do you use?
For the fine jewelry I use 18k gold and precious stones or pearls.
Who is your typical customer?
The materials used are precious and the craftsmanship advanced therefore these pieces cost more but they will also last forever. Our customers often fall in love with a certain piece and just can’t forget about it then ultimately buy it. Other times it’s a gift, like an engagement ring or a gift for a friend.
Which material are the most to fun working with? And the most difficult?
I love gold. It’s a great material, long lasting and beautiful to work with. Gold has this magical feel to it, you can understand the alchemists’ obsession and all mythology surrounding this material.
Since I use natural stones and pearls it can be hard to predict how the materials will behave. Sometimes you can drill a certain kind of pearl perfectly fine and next time it will break. Sometimes the design has to be adjusted but I like that, the materials have got their say.
Where do you source the material?
My material is mostly bought in England where production mainly is.
Are there any ethical commitments you need to handle?
Of course. We are very strict with the CSR. The company we work with in England is an old family business with a father and son working together, it is traditional and a real craft. We are doing our best to source fairtrade materials but it’s a difficult process for a small business. One good thing about the materials we use is that they are recyclable and even scrap is valuable.
You did a collaboration with the Swedish metal design brand Skultuna. How did that happen?
I made a few home products like a candlestick and a small tray and I really liked the idea of making jewelry for the home. I was talking to Skultuna which I think has got a great history and we share a passion for craftsmanship and good quality.
The collaboration was very successful in my eyes as it combined something classic with something edgy in an unexpected yet refined way.
Is there any other label you are interested to collaborate with?
For sure, I have a million ideas and it’s always very inspiring to step outside one’s bubble and enter into something different.
As I mentioned before, I’m working on a scented candle with this amazing perfumer called Azzi Glasser. It’s very exciting finding a scent to match the universe of my jewelry.
What do you like best about being a jewelry designer?
The possibilities, they are endless. And I’m fortunate to be able to work with my passion. I kind of do the same now as I did when I was a child; dreaming up little worlds and imaginary creatures.
How would you describe yourself?
Bohemian, slow, messy, fiery and a dreamer.
Tell me a little about your family? Are they creative people as you?
Well I don’t think they would describe themselves as creative but they all are even though they work in very different fields.
My mom and dad both have a Masters of Science in Engineering and my brothers too. My boyfriend is very much a businessman but I think he’s really creative too. He’s got a great eye and decided taste, much more refined then I am.
My kids are super creative, they give me so much energy and inspiration. The two eldest have both designed some jewelry for me actually. I should pay them commissions.
If you would change career, what do you want to work with?
Probably work with horses.