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October 14, 2009


I have always wanted to be a jeweller. It’s what I’m best at. Like many young people who feel this way, I went to art school. After four years I was released into the ‘real world’ as a ‘qualified’ jeweller. A year later I was a waitress. I applied for a Masters coursewhat did I have to lose?

I embarked upon a post-graduate degree in Design, again, determined to learn how to earn a living by being a jeweller.

In the first semester I really struggled to open up to new ‘concepts’ such as ethnography, team working and presentations.

Every day I questioned how these tools and methods could enhance my skillset as a jeweller. My narrow mind got the better of me and I started to question if I was in the right place.

In the second semester I was given the opportunity to work on a project commissioned by Deutsche Telekom. Why would they want me? What can a jeweller do for a telecommunications company? The truth was that the team saw something else in me. They could see I was much more than a traditional jeweller – I was a designer.

Being part of the team opened my eyes to what I was capable of. It taught me new methods, how to work on a live project, how to become an integral part of a team, but most of all, it boosted my confidence. I presented twice in Berlin to the CEO’s in T-Labs and I believe I did quite well :)
Kate Pickering T-Labs

I now consider myself to be a well rounded designer – a designer who is on a mission to show jewellery graduates they can work in many different contexts.

Working with other people is a such good thing. End of story. Yet, so many jewellery students are encouraged to work alone. Why?

We don’t just belong behind a jewellery bench, we need to learn to look up, look around us and see what else is going on and how other people work.

If I hadn’t have worked on the Deutsche Telekom project I would not have met the talented Lauren Currie and might have missed out on a friendship of a lifetime. (Lauren has documented the project and our presentations here).

I want to share this reality with all jewellery students, they need to be aware of their capabilities as designers not just makers.

In the jewellery department you are taught to be one thing and that thing only, but we can be so so much more! Making jewellery is what I love but I look at it through fresh eyes now. I am currently a designer in residence in the jewellery department and I want to share my experience with the undergraduates. They are all exactly how I used to be, to quote Terry Irwin, “heads down, bums up”.

How can I get them to look up?

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