Jewelry designer Neva Balnikovalikes to joke that she is "strange." Her signature style and her bold experiments have made her one of our leading jewelers, and her work always stands out with its unusual combination of materials, shapes, and messages. Her talent lies in working with stone, metal, woven shapes and natural materials; nature, she says, gives her “a more correct rhythm.” In OPENING SOON, the space she created at Karnigradska 1, we can find some of her latest designs, as well as various objects by local artists. We met with Neva in the greenery of the Botanical Garden to talk about seeking and playing as part of the creative process, and to better understand how she became a self-taught talent who always manages to present her ideas as a kind of sensory play.
What is the first thing you remember making with your own hands and what did you learn from your family?
For me, creation happens in a moment. I don’t focus on the memory of it, but rather the experience that was accomplished through this process. I got my good taste and my good ideas from my family.
You studied animation. How is this art form connected to jewelry design?
The link can be found in the small sculptural forms and their dynamism.
What are your rituals at work and beyond?
My ritual is a matter of having a playful attitude and leaving the pragmatic behind. Then, consciousness can be more spirited.
What kinds of materials do you prefer and are there any that you avoid altogether? And are there materials that you haven't tried working with yet, but want to master?
I am open to new materials and I am often inspired to go in a new direction when I’m combining new materials with ones I am more familiar with.
What are the strangest experiments you've done – both successful and unsuccessful?
Strange? I don't know what counts as strange these days. It feels strange when someone who is not familiar with a type of knowledge from a certain field encounters a certain kind of combination for the first time. That’s how “strangeness” in the truest sense of the word appears to me – as an unfamiliar language.
You say that nature is your biggest inspiration. How often do you take your dose of its medicine?
Nature gives us a more correct rhythm. The more, the better.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned about yourself since becoming a designer?
What do you think about the current trend in fashion of presenting everything as eco-friendly?
I respect the ideas behind it and the opportunity to educate people. I'd love for it to actually happen and not just turn into a marketing ploy.
What are you currently working on?
Rings with different types of stones. I am inspired by the stones themselves and what would be a suitable “home” for them.
Do you have moments when you feel stuck and how do you overcome them?
The cyclical nature of life includes moments when you think that things are not working out, and you try to stimulate a more positive attitude – that something needs to change and things can get better.
Where do you spend time in the city?
On the street, walking.
What is the first thing you imagine when you hear the word "comfort"?
My friends and thoughts.
What kind of people like to wear your jewelry?
It is impossible for me to generalize. They are all curious people. The only thing they have in common might be what they like.
What kinds of gifts do you like to give and receive?
Gifts that show that you know and care for someone. They are tricky to come up with, but they are worth thinking about and seeing what your intuition comes up with. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be an object, it can be a good idea.
When is it easiest and hardest for you to follow yourself?
You either have yourself or you don't. Easy or hard matter less. As for me, I have the luxury of being myself.
Neva Balnikova’s work can be seen at OPENING SOON at 1 Karnigradska Street (by prior appointment) and on Instagram@nevabalnikova
This conversation is part of the #followmyself series, which is supported by Fashion Days.