During the creation of the new collection Denis Music for the first time worked with titanium as a strong and light material and was inspired by the sharp shapes of defense structures. Resistance will be presented as part of the ‘Kyiv vibes. What matters’ at VIENNA DESIGN WEEK together with eight other Ukrainian designers and at CONTEMPORANIA, an exhibition of contemporary crafts and craftsmanship in Barcelona. DTF Magazine tells more about the work on the new collection
Brooches created from embroidered candy tins
Denis works in the direction of contemporary jewelry, explaining that his items are ‘not just about beauty, but about history’. But it was only with the outbreak of full-scale war that he saw and felt how these stories could influence the course of events: ‘That realization brought me back into practice’. During the first month of the invasion, it seemed absurd for a jewelry designer to think about making jewelry.
In the spring of 2022, Denis and his family evacuated from a village in the Kyiv region, which was in the line of fire, to the Carpathians. ‘My young son paid attention to the embroidery with which the house was decorated, and I had an idea for brooches, which I made without jewelry making tools or materials’.
He used candy tins as the basis for his brooches, on which he embroidered scenes of war that struck him. The series of two brooches is called Flowers of war.
‘The embroidery transformed the scenes depicted, they became like completely different images’, Denis says.
On one brooch he embroidered a flaming airplane, in which he later discerned a flower. The photo of the jewelry was placed on the cover of the issue of the German jewelry magazine SMCK, which was devoted to war and peace. The brooch was also going to be put up for auction at Sotheby’s: the organizers asked Denis for the jewelry, and he gave it to them. ‘Some time later, after a long silence, they informed us that they would not put it up for auction because it is more of an art object rather than a piece of jewelry’, the jewelry designer says.
The second Flowers of war brooch is embroidered with crosses from the cemetery in Bucha.
‘After the liberation of Bucha and Irpin, the photo of this cemetery was published by all international and our media, — Denis says. — But on the brooch this picture turned into a starry sky’.
This brooch was sold for a donation to the Superhumans Center (a prosthetics and rehabilitation center in Lviv. — Note from DTF Magazine) through the international platform of contemporary jewelry art Klimt02.
‘Jewelry is becoming an additional tool of diplomacy’
In May 2023, at the Autor exhibition of contemporary jewelry art in Romania, the organizers awarded a russian jewelry brand for a collection with a reference to George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’. It included, among other things, a piece of jewelry in the form of a bomb with the inscription ‘Peace’. Denis wrote on Instagram that ‘this work and its awarding are a wicked and very bad joke’.
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Together with other jewelry designers, they wrote a collective letter in which they explained to the exhibition organizers ‘why this award is a retraumatization of an entire country, why the stage should not be given to russian artists, and why it is important to take into account world events when selecting works for participation and awarding’.
‘We have sent this letter and the award case to various international jewelry organizations and I hope we have been able to stop the promotion and presentation of this work in other venues’.
For Denis, the awarding of the russian brand was an additional impetus to work on the collection further. ‘I realized that powerful political jewelry is required to be displayed by Ukraine at international jewelry events. Jewelry is becoming an additional tool of diplomacy’.
The background to the creation of the Resistance collection
In the spring of 2023, Denis and his son once again visited a flea market. When the jewelry designer saw the parts of the resistors, he ‘immediately knew that he wanted to make a piece of jewelry about resistance. This was after a hard winter with blackouts’.
‘Someone — with the help of text, someone — with a drawing, but I can express my experiences or thoughts with the help of jewelry, — Denis says. — In the case of the ‘Resistance’, it is pride for the country, for all of us, for our strength to resist such a powerful enemy’.
He connected resistor parts into one chain and made the first Resistance brooch. Subsequently, CONTEMPORANIA, one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary jewelry art, announced a competition for Ukrainian jewelry designers: the supervisory board had to choose one jewelry designer who would present his/her works for free.
Denis won the competition by presenting one brooch as a concept for the ‘Resistance’ collection. However, he admits that although this stimulated him to work further, ‘it was difficult to develop the idea and forms’.
What the new collection turned out to be
The collection consists of brooches, rings and a pendant. This was the first time Denis worked with titanium: the light and strong material reproduced the ideas of resistance in the best possible way. In previous collections he has worked mostly with gold and vintage black silver, and in June 2023 he created the ‘Fury’ ring made of silver and black polyurethane.
Denis learned how to work with titanium while creating the collection. ‘I gathered information bit by bit: I learned how to anodize metal, that is, to give the metal different colors using an electrochemical process, as well as how to join parts together, because titanium parts cannot be soldered like gold or silver ones’.
In addition to titanium, steel and silver were also used in the creation of jewelry. The ultra-sharp geometric shapes of the products are reminiscent of architectural defense structures.
‘I was inspired by real sharp shapes of defense fortifications, such as Czech hedgehogs. But in a way that doesn’t depict an exact replica of existing objects’, Denis says.
As with the Flowers of war brooch, a similar illusion was created with the new collection. Initially, it was based on ‘emotions and ideas of something murderous, dangerously beautiful and sharp’. But when the works were ready, Denis saw a spike of wheat in the Strength brooch, a sunflower in the Zariba brooch, rays of the sun in the Honor ring and brooch, and a Ukrainian trident (tryzub) in the Struggle ring.
‘I wanted the viewer to have a sense that it’s beautiful, like our country, — the designer explains. — But it can become very dangerous and sharp for someone who is attacking us’.
Before becoming a jewelry designer, Denis worked in graphic design for more than 15 years. In 2013, he started his practice as a jewelry artist in a private workshop and now he creates new jewelry collections every year.
The jewelry collections by Denis Music have been presented at jewelry exhibitions in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France, Spain, Romania and Lithuania.