Emma Knight Design

Emma Knight Design is a brand new Northern Irish jewellery brand creating beautiful, tactile products and using experimental materials. After graduating from Chelsea College of Art & Design in 2014, founder Emma spent a couple of years travelling and exploring the world visiting ecological projects concerned with climate change.  This, combined with her passion for fashion and sculpture, formed the basis of her brand Emma Knight Design. Emma uses around 70% reclaimed materials in her collections.

We caught up with Emma to find out more about her jewellery brand:

What made you want to start your own business?

After graduating from Art College and then spending a couple of years stumbling, living in London on the breadline, then Spain, I came to realise that if I wanted the freedom I craved, I was going to have to put a business head on. I've always been a little bit stubborn when working for someone else, so setting up my own business seemed to make sense. When I returned home last year in 2016, I needed to find a way to survive as an artist by working out a side project to sustain my art practice. I wanted to combine my interests in Art, Fashion and Design and so Emma Knight Design was born. I couldn't believe how fast my jewellery took off. Within the first few months my work had its first ever sample sale featuring in a pop up shop in the ICA in London and shortly after, I was featured in Belfast Design Week. I am now stocking boutiques and art galleries across UK and Ireland. 

What materials do you work with and why?

It has always felt natural for me to use plastics in my designs. My dad runs a plastics engineering company working with designers and artists, creating objects ranging from bumpers for buses to light installations so its always been around me. I have always been fascinated in what the possibilities can be for plastic in all its forms. It can be both pliable and rigid, waterproof and porous. It's also easy to cut and form with the right technology. I feel I am kind of flexing my muscles at the moment, experimenting and getting to know machines along with materials. At the moment I am using a laser machine as my main tool  but i hope to be eventually be creating routered or vacuum formed pieces. I want the jewellery to be as ethical as possible so currently around 70% of the materials I use are reclaimed but keeping to this is difficult. There is also that other obvious quality in plastic which can be a problem for me - its tricky not to make it look like plastic! Therefore I often combine more natural materials such as wood to give the jewellery a more earthy and crafted feel. A special new material I'm working with features little grains of granite. I am also on a little venture of gaining some Silversmith skills, so watch this space!

What are some of the inspirations behind the look and feel of your work?

I feel I'm still trying to get to know my work and seem to be jumping between a minimal aesthetic and a more playful style but Art has always had an influence on every aspect of what I do. The first artists I can think of, off the top of my head, would be Eva Rothschild, Alexander Calder and Barbara Hepworth. The aesthetic of their work is quite minimal but they also have an interactive or tactile quality to their work.  I always try to visit as many exhibitions, or window shop in as many independent fashion or design shops as possible. I spend some nights reading fashion magazines such as Dazed and Confused, Another Mag or Pigeons and Peacocks - buying second hand from eBay. Although there are some great galleries and craft outlets here in Belfast, we are limited, so the Internet is my main way of accessing these spots (all hail Instagram! - it has to be said). There are some really interesting new indie designers out there such as our very own beautiful Lines and Current or also a really fun fashion designer from Melbourne I follow called Abbey Rich, who is a complete legend. Sometimes I do have the opportunity to get down to Dublin or travel a little bit further to get my fix. I love that little bubble of excitement I get when being among current artists or designers and seeing what is possible. A few more random inspirations which feed into the more playful side of my work at the moment would be my cat Naboo, minimal line drawn tattoos and children's toys - just a few.