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Interview with Olga Yatskaer

Home > Designer Interviews > Olga Yatskaer

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Olga Yatskaer (OY) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Olga Yatskaer by clicking here.

Interview with Olga Yatskaer at Wednesday 26th of April 2017

FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
OY: Since I was a little girl, I really liked drawing. I’ve been drawing at every occasion, especially new patterns, crossings and combinations of colors. One day there was a ball in my university, and I had to find some jewelry to fit the robe. It took a while but nothing was really fitting. And then I took a piece of paper and made a sketch just for fun, trying to imagine how this piece of jewelry could look like. The sketch looked quite interesting to me. Shortly after I started my attempts in the fantasy jewelry, first to create pieces that I would like myself to wear. Eventually I faced the limits of fantasy jewelry, and tried to materialize my sketches into professional jewelry pieces. It took some time to learn the necessary techniques and to get experience. I’m really thankful to my professors, my family and friends who always supported me, and everyone who helped me throughout these years.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
OY: Our company has been established in 2017, it is called Queensberg. It is based in Wavre, Belgium. Queensberg takes care of promotion of my jewelry designs and production of the actual pieces. We believe there is a lot of unexplored potential for new jewelry design brands both in Benelux and at our neighbors. For production, we prefer to rely on our own resources or on proven partners, to do everything in time and ensure highest possible quality. We are building up the distribution network and looking for international partnerships.

FS: What is "design" for you?
OY: For me, the design is a song of my soul, a flight of my fantasy without any limits, the world behind the mirror. This is an opportunity to convert my dreams and inside feelings into something tangible, a self-expression. It is related to harmonious comprehension of something around me. It is one more way of communication to the people, to the outside world. It is like playing with a magic stick, when you just imagine something and then it appears out of nowhere.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
OY: I like designing all kinds of jewelry. I like designing pieces that are beautiful, wearable, practical, and are not copycats of someone else’s.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
OY: My all-time favorite designers are Georg Jensen, René Lalique and Ilias Lalaounis. From my own designs, I love “Eternal Union”. This piece will always remain special for me for many reasons. First, it is a simple shape, yet something that never existed before. Secondly, this is my first-ever internationally awarded design, which just created so much more visibility and recognition to my work literally overnight, thanks to “A’ Design Award”. You may find more details about this design at the “A’ Design Award” website, there is also a separate interview dedicated to this piece.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
OY: So far, I only designed for my own company. The first jewelry design I made for a customer was a charm representing a mouse, made of rhodium-plated silver.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
OY: I like to work with all precious metals - whether it is yellow gold, white gold, silver or platinum. I also like rhodium-plating the silver and white gold pieces, as rhodium has such a nice color, it makes the pieces look really alive and keeps their beauty intact. To capture the design ideas, I prefer to use a piece of paper and pencil, just like in my student time. For some of my pieces, the traditional jewelry making techniques are a good fit. However, to create complex pieces, I do like using 3D modelling. If it was not for 3D, quite a few of my ideas would likely still remain on paper - because it is either technically impossible or would take tremendous effort to create them manually with the desired precision and proportions.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
OY: I feel the most creative when I travel to new places I have never been before. And when I’m coming back home after a travel, even more ideas are emerging. I went to discover Canada and was impressed by beauty of its nature, and then my first collection was born. Another collection was born in a hot Spanish summer, another one during a short trip to New York, and so on.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
OY: I ensure that all design elements would complement each other, for every little detail to be on the right place, for all these details to form a piece in harmony, and that there is nothing unnecessary or excessive in the design.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
OY: The world around me just ceases to exist. I’m getting into a very different space, just like Alice in Wonderland. In this wonderland, I feel unlimited freedom and happiness. It takes me away, just like flying.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
OY: Happiness – because something new and beautiful was just born, that did not exist before. Impatience – because once the design is created, I want the actual jewelry piece to be made as quickly as possible. Satisfaction and joy – when the piece is made and it looks just like I have imagined it.

FS: What makes a design successful?
OY: I believe that the more people recognize and like the design, the more successful it is. More specifically, a successful jewelry design is a piece that people like to wear, that they picture themselves with, that they present to their loved ones, and that creates good memories.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
OY: When I’m looking at a jewelry piece made by my colleagues, I first judge it on my subjective feeling. That is, if I had this piece, would I like to wear it myself? And then I look at other aspects. Is it wearable at all? Is it an original or did I see it before? Furthermore, if this is not yet a readily made piece but still a project, I’m also looking whether it is feasible to make the piece at all. These are the first aspects for me to consider.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
OY: I think the designer must be fair towards his clients, partners and colleagues. We are responsible to make the society better through the beauty of our designs and to connect people. We should stay away from provoking negative emotions and conflicts. Concerning the environment, we as jewelers are working with metals and other substances. This makes us particularly responsible for strictly respecting all rules to protect the health of our customers, coworkers and the environment. We have very well defined rules for that here in EU. Furthermore, it is important to make sure that all materials are coming from reliable and ethical sources.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
OY: First of all, I believe there is no such thing as a single worldwide “design field”. The evolution is really different from one region to another, and from one design category to another. As an example, the jewelry design trends in Belgium are different from those in Dubai, and both differ from those in South Africa or in Canada. On a global scale, I see several trends. One is that anyone can get anything anywhere anytime and almost immediately, with emergence of mobile channels. It is now so much faster and cheaper for creative people to get their ideas spread around the globe. Therefore, more new talents can get known at faster pace than it was even in the last decade, let alone the last century. It’s a kind of YouTube’isation of design if you will. But with the multitude of talents comes the challenge of the choice. And only the very best ones will really make it to the worldwide fame…like it has always been. Another trend, especially with millennials, is the aim for designs that are practical and cool, but not necessarily expensive. This trend is particularly visible in the jewelry design.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
OY: At the time of this interview (April 2017), the last exhibition was in Chateau d’Hermitage in Wavre, Belgium in 2016. The next upcoming events are an exposition in Grange du Douaire in Ottignies, Belgium between 5th May and 21st May, and very importantly the Exhibition @ Mood in Como, Italy between 6th June and 26th June, organized by A’ Design Award.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
OY: I can be inspired by anything around me - whether it’s the nature, the weather, the people, the books, the magazines, beautiful music, a movie, an architectural pattern… I just feel like creating something. And then I listen to my inside feelings, catch this creative wave and try not to lose it out of sight. And sometimes it happens that I should create something particular. Then I tune myself, imagine and try different options, choose the ones I like best, and let the customer make the final choice.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
OY: I create designs in several styles simultaneously, because I would not like to stick to just one. I like inventing new styles, changing them and combining them. My approach to the design is to create the jewelry pieces that people could wear every day, as well as for special occasions. For example, my designs with precious stones or enamel could differ through the shape, choice of colors, or pattern. I also like creating designs with no stones and no enamel, just metal. These kinds of designs are particularly demanding, as they have to differ through very special shapes and patterns. Eternal Union is one of such designs.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
OY: I live in the center of Europe, and from my background I’m a professional historian. Europe is a unique part of the world, where thousands years of history and events have crossed together within a rather small area. It is quite surrealistic to realize that an ancient Roman road went just a few hundred meters away from my place. The Merovingians as well as the ancestors of Charlemagne are all coming from our area. For designers, Belgium is a great place to be. You will find here many different sources of inspiration and an overwhelming feeling of freedom. The world centers of fashion and design are located just nearby.

FS: How do you work with companies?
OY: At this stage, my company Queensberg takes care of design, development and production. Queensberg creates jewelry pieces based on my designs and distributes them, both directly and through partners. The companies can order my jewelry pieces directly from Queensberg.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
OY: A good designer should be professional in whatever he does. While having a good taste and style, he should feel the client needs and ensure the right quality. He should do things on time, the client does not have to run after the designer. Concerning the selection process, you may look into the designs and request for references. When you deal with new designers, you may interview them, just like when you would select a candidate. A good idea could be to order a small pilot design at moderate pricing conditions, this is how you can figure out whether the style and approach of this designer fits your company needs.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
OY: In most cases, I just get an idea and draw a sketch using a pencil and a sheet of paper. I like using pencil, because this is how I can easily translate my thoughts and emotions onto paper, and I can always erase something and change it. Then, depending on the design, I would either create the piece manually, or proceed with the 3D modeling. I control the 3D modeling process down to the finest details, to ensure that my ideas are reflected correctly.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
OY: Georg Jensen Heritage Jewelry pieces, my iPhone 7, a suit by Joseph Rybkoff, a Canadian mug by Oscardo, and my entire library of design books.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
OY: When at home, I would take a walk in the morning and get to my workshop. Have some client meetings. Relax, get inspired and create the sketches. Have a dinner with my family. But when I’m travelling, every day is quite different and not like another one.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
OY: Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Don’t be afraid to improve yourself and learn something new, even if it is complicated and takes time. Don’t stop and keep moving forward. And when you start growing and get recognition, remember your early days and those who were at your side and help you reach the success. And one more thing: “you are there for the clients”, not “clients are there for you”.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
OY: The positives are this unbelievable feeling when something new is born and the design appears on a sheet of paper out of nothing. Then it turns into a real piece, which you can enjoy looking at, and which you can touch. This piece finds her client and brings him joy, and I feel a little piece of that joy. The negatives are that even your most favorite design would be appreciated by some people but completely disliked by the others, because a personal assessment of one or another design is always very subjective. Every person has her own taste, and it is important to learn appreciating negative feedback at least as much as the positive one. This is something that can be learned but it is not easy, especially in the beginning.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
OY: Keep all what is necessary and drop everything that is excessive. I know it sounds easy but it is not, especially for creative people.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
OY: There are creative skills that make the designer, such as the feeling of style, a rich fantasy, a taste, and a positive mindset. The practical skills are important as well, such as understanding the client, patience, being accurate, attentive, and doing things on time.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
OY: As a designer I have my paper, pencil and a lot of books as well. For 3D modeling, Gemvision Matrix is my favorite. As a jeweler I have to use dozens of tools and machines, in order to materialize any design idea that I might have. Over the years, this became more than a toolbox and turned into a real workshop to do everything from metalworking to casting to finishing to enameling to stone-setting.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
OY: This is rather easy for me. Thanks to my parents, from the very childhood I got used to plan my work and to set my priorities upfront. I am trying to stick to the plan in order to be on time, nevertheless I leave enough flexibility to cater for unforeseen changes.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
OY: It all depends on the design complexity. In my case, the first sketch would take between a few hours and a few days. The same concerns the 3D design. But I only consider the design as completed when the first jewelry piece has been produced. And sometimes this might take even a few weeks.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
OY: The most frequent question the people ask to me is “Did you create all these models yourself?”

FS: What was your most important job experience?
OY: As of today, I would certainly name the creation of Eternal Union and its preparation for “A’ Design Award” contest. I’m really glad I took this decision.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
OY: Technically speaking, my sole client is my company Queensberg. As of the time of this interview (April’17), the Queensberg’s clients are private individuals, however we are looking for distribution partnerships and corporate customers as well.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
OY: I enjoy all of them so much. But the very first step is probably most enjoyable, when the first sketch just appears out of nowhere.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
OY: On a creative side, one of the next projects is a new collection of metal-only designs. Most of these designs will have several pieces in every set, such as pendants, earrings and rings. Meanwhile, I will of course continue creating new designs with precious stones and enamel as well. I have plenty of new sketches in my notebook, and it keeps on growing as the new ideas keep on coming. On a more business side, I plan to promote my company, Queensberg as a new brand. We are actively looking for distribution partners in Europe and worldwide, and are starting with an e-commerce shop soon.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
OY: I develop all designs fully myself. Because there are only 24 hours a day, I need to set my priorities. Therefore, my colleagues would often help me with practical things like 3D modeling, printing, casting, or others. I control the whole production and ensure that ideas are followed exactly to all finest details at every step.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
OY: From the most immediate ones, the Eternal Union pendant is going to get siblings. There are earrings coming up, and the work on a ring design is in progress as well.

FS: How can people contact you?
OY: The easiest is to contact me by e-mail through my company Queensberg, info@queensberg.com.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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