HIGHLANDS CREATIVES // Zvoni Hodak of HODAK+YOUNG
How did you get involved in your craft?
My passion for making jewellery began in my early 20’s in Melbourne. I was working as a studio assistant for Candy Spender, a wonderful fashion jewellery designer and mentor during my formative years. I later designed my own small range of necklaces, bracelets and earrings which were stocked by Saba at the time, as well as several boutiques in South Yarra and Richmond.
My pathway then changed, and after a long career in business consulting in Canberra, I returned to jewellery design when I moved to the Southern Highlands with my husband, Phil in 2011.
I used pre-made components to assemble my designs, but I yearned to know how to fabricate jewellery from scratch using raw materials. So, a few years ago I took a short course in silversmithing and then spent another 6 months hanging out at KIN Gallery in Canberra every Wednesday night. This proved to be a pivotal point in my life; I became totally obsessed with contemporary jewellery design and the endless possibilities that were now at my disposal!
Setting up the Bowral studio and workshop allows me to teach others these wonderful artisan skills, to collaborate with others while continuing to grow my own skills and designs.
Who or what are your biggest influences or inspiration?
In my first year of art school, we studied a documentary series called The Shock of the New, narrated by Robert Hughes. It was then I discovered the Bauhaus, Modernism and the principles behind modern design. Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Good Design resonates with me. Although published in the 1970s, they are just as relevant now as they must have been back then.
In particular, I believe that all design objects should be innovative, functional, beautiful and environmentally-friendly.
What materials do you like to use in the process of creating what you do?
Metal serves as a catalyst that best expresses my modernist ideals and aesthetic, giving me the freedom to explore both traditional and modern fabrication techniques.
My process begins by prototyping each new design by hand; saw piercing, soldering, and forging, utilising sustainable materials and practices wherever possible. I then digitally model many of my designs to have them 3D printed in wax and formed using traditional lost wax casting techniques. I apply resin for colours and then finish every piece by hand; sanding, burnishing and polishing to ultimately reveal meticulously clean designs.
My work yields modernist pieces that embrace innovative technologies while being grounded in natural form. And like the untouched nature around me, I try to encompass both structure and beauty in the final products of my design process.
Having the studio in Bowral and being able to grow and share my knowledge with others is a huge career highlight! I get inspired by seeing others become inspired, it’s a self-perpetuating system. Not only do I have a beautiful workspace where I produce my own designs, I get to share it with like-minded creatives. What could be better than that?!
What’s next on the horizon?
In addition to expanding the range of workshops we offer in the studio, Phil and I have started planning a collaborative body of work, combining all our skills into a cohesive series of objects that we hope to exhibit later this year.
Why do you love being a creative in the Southern Highlands?
There’s no doubt the Southern Highlands is a physically beautiful and inspiring environment. But at the end of the day, it’s the people who make it so special. We’ve received an incredible amount of support from the local community since opening the studio, originally at the SHAC (Southern Highlands Artisans Collective) in Robertson, and now in Bowral. We love how everyone supports each other here.
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