For Ukrainian genius STANISLAV DROKIN, designing has been a process of self-discovery. His engaging pieces are a result of intense self-introspection and astute observation because patience, perseverance and precision are his mantras that have led him to craft pieces with a stamp of individuality. Combining two distinct streams of art and science, Stanislav’s creations magnify his dexterous handcrafting skills as well as his incredible technical prowess. His unique jewellery is an outcome of a multi-disciplinary approach to design, and his atelier, aptly called the Creative Lab, is a sanctum where old and new methods are constantly merged to create a futuristic design lexicon.
BY SHANOO BIJLANI
You began working at the age of 15 at a radio electronics factory as an engraver and metal worker. When did the shift to the jewellery field happen?
That was in 1983, when after my eighth standard, I began working in a radio electronics factory during my summer holidays to get some pocket money.
In the factory tool shop, there were specialists who manufactured stamps and moulds and at the far end of the workshop a small engraving area was located. There, four masters used to manufacture by hand marks and symbols in brass that were used for labelling of radio components.
I often visited the engraving area as the work of engravers fascinated me – I was taken in by the precision, patience and diligence. Then I made a decision to stay in the factory and learn the profession of metalworker and engraver. After work, I attended an evening school in order to get secondary education. In my opinion, the profession of an engraver is closely intertwined with the precision and mastery of a watchmaker and a jeweller.
I was lucky enough to go all the way up from being an apprentice to a master. Thanks to my strong professional base, I started studying jewellery making by myself in my spare time.
After the break-up of the USSR, the factory closed down, and I was invited to work as a jewellery designer in a private company. I was engaged in manufacturing of master models made of brass for the production of fashion jewellery. It was then that I began to create bespoke jewellery pieces.
You opened your boutique in 1994. It has been a long time since then. Have your aesthetics changed over a period of time? If so, how?
In 1994, I opened a private company “S.D.” – jewellery atelier. Moreover, at that time I became a member of the Designers Union of Ukraine and the International Association “Society of Designers”.
During my education at the gemmological centre of Idar-Oberstein, Germany, the city which is considered to be the historical centre of stone dressing, I was lucky to meet a famous master of jewellery art and design, André Enskat, who is a winner of numerous international competitions.
In the course of our many conversations in his atelier, André told me that one does not need to imitate the styles of the past, but look for one’s own unique style and find or carve one’s own creative path! That utterance had a deep impact on me and his opinion played a very important role in my creative work.
Today, I strongly believe that every creative person should have his own path in order to open up his reservoirs of creativity and accumulate experience.
I also realised that the concept of creation is about constantly searching for something new. It is a never-ending experiment with materials and shapes.
It was then that I felt the need for basic academic knowledge, because only that could help me to move forward easily. In 2011, I obtained a Master’s degree in Graphic Design in the Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Fine Arts.
You have been trained in various gemmological centres of Ukraine, Germany and Poland. Did you learn gemmology or jewellery designing?
For several years, with some intervals, I was studying gemmology in gemmological centres of Ukraine, Poland and Germany.
Unfortunately, there is no specialisation in jewellery design in higher educational institutions of Ukraine. In the academy where I studied Graphic Design, in addition to the academic course, I learned computer programming, which then formed the basis for all my jewellery designs.
It is not a secret that the world is rapidly evolving and the ways and forms of design are changing. This is the reality that should be accepted and one needs to go with the times. I realised this at the academy. I became interested in modern technologies that can allow the artist to implement his creative ideas faster.
Can designing be taught? Isn’t it an emotional expression or an abstract rendition of what an artist feels?
A person can be taught and provided with all the necessary knowledge and experience, but the way he is able to use it further, depends only on him!
I suppose, creativity is the ability to accumulate and transmit information to the next generation in the form of knowledge captured in material and packed with emotions.
Tell us more about your design philosophy. Earlier, your take on jewellery was classical, and then it turned into organic forms inspired by nature. And while some of the collections are suffused with gemstones, others are not. How and when did these transitions happen?
The philosophy of my design lies in a constant search for emotions, in an attempt to convey feelings through form and colour. I divide my creative work into two areas – Art and Design.
Art includes products that I create by hand using the technique of hot wax modelling. Those are bionic, natural forms with the help of which I convey my feelings, the world that I experience. I began to develop this direction after the meeting with André Enskat, moving away from the classical style and experimenting with material.
Design is the direction I use to convey fashion trends with the help of advanced technology, combined with manual finishing set with gemstones under a microscope. In this direction, I pay special attention to coloured gemstones and their combinations, and the quality of work.
In any creative work the ability to use a variety of methods, techniques and skills, along with comprehensive knowledge in related areas such as gemmology, chemistry, metalwork, casting, computer graphics, etc. is a good way to achieve different objectives. I was fortunate to gain knowledge and learn the secrets of past masters. I am also pleased to attain new horizons of knowledge and technologies of the future!
What inspires you to make jewellery? Tell us something about your various collections and their inspirations.
Surroundings and the inner world inspire me to create jewellery. I do not like to create collections in the literal sense. For me, the process and the search are important, therefore, each piece is created in a single copy; very rarely in a limited edition. My inspirers and critics are my family and friends. I admire the work of André Enskat, Gilbert Albert, Joel A. Rosenthal, better known as JAR, Hemmerle, Lydia Courteille, Roberto Coin, Alex Sepkus and many others.
We would like to know your process of creation? Do you interlace stories into your jewellery pieces? Or do you scribble a design on a piece of paper and then take it to the workbench?
For me, the stone is always a beginning, but I come up with different ways to create my jewellery.
In the Art format, I create jewellery without sketches. I surrender to the feelings and emotions, while my hands take on the role of an orchestra conductor to create the piece. In the Design format, I make sketches by hand first and then make a design using the computer.
I like to experiment with techniques and ways to combine them. In one of my jewellery pieces, I used planes created with the help of a printer as a canvas for the artist. On these planes, I manually applied embossed texture with grooves and holes with the help of a hot spatula. Solidscape material allows it. The result was a synthesis of modern technologies and handwork.
In another example, I moulded a part of a ring using wax, and then cast it. Afterwards with the help of wax I did the rest of the piece and cast it together with the first casting. The result was a ring made out of two alloys cast together.
Sometimes, in order to manually produce a complex, three-dimensional, detachable piece for processing the ring shape, I have to create one piece in wax, cast it, create the following piece in wax, combining it with the first cast. Thus, there is a consistent creation of the elements of the piece, a creation process that is interconnected with each other.
What according to you is the prime purpose of jewellery?
The main function of jewellery is that it makes a positive impact on human emotions. Jewellery should bear positive emotions and energy. Moreover, it is also an individual message of the author. In today’s global world, the world of circulation and repetition, one-off jewellery pieces emphasise the individuality and taste of the owner.
A piece of art is a particle and reflection of time, part of history and culture. It is very important for the pieces to have related information – or what one can call, history. Without it, most of the jewellery pieces are, unfortunately, just decorations. The more information about the piece there is, the more valuable it becomes!
Do you have any favourite gemstones or metals?
I love all gemstones without exception, but at a certain stage of my creative work, I got acquainted with opals. Frankly, it was an explosion of emotions for me! Opals have the whole universe hidden in them. They are unique and unusual. With the help of opals nature sends us an extraordinary palette of emotions and a mix of colours, showing their harmony and changeable consistency!
In metals, I prefer gold. I also like the combination of yellow gold and oxidised silver a lot.
Are all your pieces handcrafted? How important are technical innovations in achieving a perfect piece of jewellery?
In the Art format, all pieces are made by hand. When pieces are created with the help of modern technologies, a lot of manual work is needed as well. In order to achieve high quality finishing, it is necessary to technically break the pieces in parts so that it would be possible to treat hard-to-reach places. In such cases, accumulated professional experience is very important.
I treat modern technologies as a new instrument. In contemporary art, it does not matter anymore the way in which the piece is created. Skills in classical and modern techniques are opening a wide range of possibilities for creativity.
You have won several important awards for your designs. How does it feel?
In the life of every artist, it is important never to stop achieving newer heights. For many years, I have been participating and winning competitions in Ukraine and Russia. After receiving the most prestigious awards there, I decided to take part in international competitions. In 2014, I won three international competitions, two of which took place in the US and one in Basel — International Pearl Design Contest, Luster Award (Providence, USA); Centurion Emerging Designer Awards Competition (Scottsdale, USA); and Solidscape 2014 Baselworld Design Competition, Gold Award (Basel, Switzerland).
How long does it take you to produce a collection or a special, one-off piece?
The creation of jewellery pieces takes a lot of time, sometimes it can be even as much as several months. Apart from design, I participate in all stages of production in my jewellery atelier where I have a small cohesive team.
Where are you originally from? Were you artistically inclined even as a child? How did those skills/temperament help you evolve into a world-renowned artist?
I was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Since childhood I had the ability to draw, and enjoyed being engaged in technical pursuits. Moreover, I was fond of martial arts and philosophy, collected stamps, and wrote poetry. I like to photograph, travel, talk with interesting people, but jewellery design takes all my life!