Güneş Deniz is a Turkish jewelry designer who has lived abroad for a long time and then returned to Turkey to create her own brand with joyful pieces, combining over 1,000 years of the Grand Bazaar craftsmanship with inspirations from childhood memories and other artistic fields.
As the designer herself defines her pieces “the smallest expression of art”, we can see a contemporary touch played mainly by the material choices – colored enameled pieces - creating a refined storytelling that can range from the movement of furniture design to musical inspiration.
Güneş, how did you start designing your jewelry collections?
I knew I wanted to study something creative, but my parents forced me to take a Business Degree. I was kind of lost and felt out of place. During my third year of college I came back home for the Christmas holidays and every day I wondered “What am I going to do with my life?” without being able to find an answer, which was very frustrating. Then, I woke up one morning as if I had always known it and started designing jewelry. My instincts took me to the Grand Bazaar which has been a hub for jewelry making for over 1,000 years and there I met artisans who were so kind and willing to teach me how to make jewelry. During those Christmas holidays I did not meet any of my friends or take any time off, I was at the Grand Bazaar all day making jewelry. I spent my last night in the atelier, leaving at 5 am in the morning to take the flight back to Boston, with a collection of 15 pieces of jewelry in my backpack. Since then, I have never stopped.
Can you tell us how craftsmanship affects your pieces?
Craftsmanship makes a design look good or not. You may really like a design in a drawing or on a computer screen, but you only fall in love with it when you actually touch the piece and look at the details closely. I work with artisans specialized in their field, for example Kamer (the enameling craftsman) learned enameling from his father as a tradition and yet still today he is looking for new color combinations and enameling techniques. He has become a close friend of mine and we work on each piece together with love and devotion.
How does the selection of materials work when creating the collection?
I like to research and add new materials to each collection, but I think the most significant material in all my collections is mother-of-pearl. I have been obsessed with mother-of-pearl ever since because of its blackish brownish swirls and its beautiful colors that change according to the light. Mother-of-pearl also has an important place in my culture as it was extensively used in the Ottoman Empire - in precious gifts among the Sultans, on furniture and on palace doors. I recently got into enameling because enameling basically means colors, it’s a kind of paint.
Can you tell us about your style and your way of working?
I combine ancient and modern craftsmanship and natural materials on playful and sophisticated designs. Jewelry is one of the smallest forms of art, it’s like a miniature sculpture – or at least that is how I like to see it. Every piece has a story and is a statement in its own right rather than just being a simple addition to your everyday outfit. For example, “The Oblina” earrings were inspired by a character from the animated television series “The Real Monsters” , a show that many of us loved to watch as children in the 80s. I love the way our childhood memories can still relate to us as adults and transform into earrings made from high-end materials such as Gold, Silver, enamel and tourmaline stones.
What influences you?
To be honest, one answer is not enough to answer this question. A confident and sophisticated woman standing in front of me on the street can spark a lot of ideas. Looking at art in museums such as the British Museum and the Tate definitely inspires me. A movie, a culture, a sound, a rug, a vase, architecture. The one thing I try not to really look for inspiration is jewelry as I want to have a unique voice.
Which creative element is essential to you?
I think falling in love with what you do instead of trying to please the audience is the key. Sometimes it can get confusing as I need to sell and make money at the end of the day. So yes, I do need to consider whether people will like and buy what I do. However, I also know that when these questions arise in my mind it becomes harder to go deep into what I sincerely feel and it starts to get boring. I think creative authenticity comes from really doing what you want to do, for yourself, from your heart. When it comes from your heart, the result will be beautiful and people will notice it - if not today, tomorrow.