Joyful jewellery

With names like "Little Sly" fox and "Pistol Bunny Scurry" rabbit, one can't help but smile at Trinket Designs' quirky jewellery pieces.

Instilling a narrative component into each creation, Trinket Design draws inspiration from nature to design jewellery with a three-dimensional element.

Founded in 2009 by Elske Nel, Trinket Design creates highly crafted, quirky jewellery pieces for high-spirited and experimental accessory lovers.

We chatted to Nel about her design process.

What inspires your work? 

Most of my designs take their inspiration from nature, which I twist into crafted minimalistic pieces. I love animals and the way they put a smile on your face, and therefore derive my inspiration from them most of the time. I like designing quirky characters, each honed with its own interesting narrative. The “Little Sly” fox, “Pistol Bunny Scurry” rabbit and “Squirreling Around” squirrel brooch are just some of my characters. 

Tell us about the Circus Bear! Is it part of a collection?

I had a crazy dream about a bear on a bicycle one night after watching a circus-inspired movie. I could not get the bizarre image out of my head, and so I decided to design a bear on a penny-farthing. The “Circus Bear” is part of a collection. His travelling family members include the “Trapeze Elephant” and the “Siamese Penguins”.

What was the inspiration behind the Retro TV?

I think I designed the “Retro TV” brooch as a home for all my characters. Often I engrave the characters on the inside of the television screen as variations of the design.

Do your designs follow a theme of any kind? Do you work with collections or rather individual pieces?

I usually start off by designing one piece and that specific design usually sparks more ideas and often ends up being a collection. I started with the “Circus Bear” and then later that specific character inspired me to design other characters like the “Trapeze Elephant” and the “Siamese Penguins”. If I really like a character I feel obliged to extend the family.

What do you feel your work resonates with?

I think my work resonates with so many different things. Most of my designs are quirky and I would like to think it makes people smile.

Can you tell us more about the materials you use in your designs?

I work with a variety of materials, including stainless steel, plexi glass, wood and leather. I always layer the different materials to give the designs a three-dimensional feel. My favourite material to work with is wood because you can do so much with it. Each piece of wood is unique in terms of colour, texture and grain.

What you are currently working on?

At the moment I am moving away from animal characters and working on a more abstract range. The range will consist of intricate patterns, geometrical lines and shapes. In a way I am moving back to the very first range I designed for Trinket, the “Flower of Carnage” range. The first range was designed by combining industrial elements with nature. The range of flower brooches were made from stainless steel revealing strong lines and a steel cog as the pistol of the flower. I think I will always go back to my first range for inspiration because it so special to me.

What has been your experience of Design Indaba Expo?

I love being part of the Design Indaba Expo and every year, despite all the hard work and preparation, I really can’t wait for the next show. I usually launch my new range at the Expo and love seeing the reaction from the public when they see my designs. At the Expo you get to experience this first-hand by talking to the visitors and buyers. It is really motivational, as a designer, to see people appreciate your work, especially when they smile at your quirky designs.