We speak to hothouse17 makers Holly and Fiona who collaborate as jewellery studio Tropezar
Tropezar duo Holly and Fiona create impactful, playful and sophisticated pieces of jewellery which combine unlikely materials and processes during intensely focussed periods of experimentation. When designing each collection, Tropezar place fair sourcing; utilising discarded and excess materials and minimising untraceable manufacture is high on their agenda
Holly and Fiona have been selected for Hothouse, the Crafts Council's Talent Development Programme for emerging makers. Find out more about Hothouse
What first got you interested in making?
Holly - I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t interested in making. Being able to express myself through creativity has always been an essential part of who I am.
Fiona – My grandfather was a watchmaker, I used to spend hours in his workshop watching him repair clocks. We often used to make things together; bits of jewellery from brass wire and buttons. I owe a lot to him and my grandmother for nurturing my creative side. He also tried to teach me about gardening but I just killed everything, so at least the making has worked out better.
Where have you shown / sold your work so far?
Fiona – Between us we have shown at a variety of places both in the UK and abroad, from London Design Week to Schmuck in Munich and Paris Fashion Week. We’ve covered a fairly large spectrum in terms of the types of shows we have done, including design fairs, high-end jewellery shows, fashion based fairs and art exhibitions.
Holly – As Tropezar we have exhibited with Designers Block for Fuorisalone - the Milan design festival. We showcased our first collection ‘Dark Matter’ , the collection combining tractor tyre rubber with silver. It was great to engage with people and we learnt a lot from it.
Which project are you most proud of so far and why?
Holly - We are very excited about our latest collection because we have spent a lot of time developing simple, playful designs that are versatile and customisable. It’s our second project working together as Tropezar and we feel we have had a chance to grow together and establish a strong working dynamic. We have collated what we learnt during our first collection and used this to inform our second, so it feels more concise this time.
Fiona – I’m proud of both of our projects, they are both quite different in terms of outcome but I think they tell our story. We’re still finding a balance between being experimental but remaining accessible and I think that is visible in our work. I hope we can remain open about our journey, it’s easy to feel like you should self-edit everything but it can be quite detrimental when it affects your ability to communicate ideas and form narrative.
What do you hope to get from Hothouse?
Holly - We have been living in a small community in north Nottinghamshire for the last year. Hothouse is helping us find opportunities and engage with other creatives. I hope by making new friends and creating a support network on the Hothouse program our business will grow organically.
Fiona – It’s just a relief to connect with other makers in a constructive and encouraging environment. I feel that we are a lot more supported now and so far I’d say the program is very well structured towards this.
The sustainability and fair sourcing of materials of is important to you. What is this process of finding materials?
Holly - Our process of finding recycled materials fits into our everyday activities and working for other companies. The rubber we used in our last collection was found by doing a workshop making rubber bags. We did this workshop together and loved the potential the material had and its recycled nature, so then we developed a process to use the material in a unique way for our first collection.
Fiona –We try to keep mass-produced components to a minimum, which means we make a lot of our own clasps and other findings. It can be really tricky to negotiate between maintaining an ethical standpoint and making items that can be reproduced at the right price.
How did the two of your meet and what clicked to make you want to work in collaboration?
Holly - We met 13 years ago in Nottingham where we both did the same fine art BTEC, we quickly became good friends and have been close ever since. The dynamic between us has always been so positive and proactive, we always used to talk about setting up a studio together and so here we are.
Fiona – I suppose a defining point for us was working together as part of Dialogue Collective in London. We did a couple of tongue-in-cheek jewellery projects based on the notion of the ever-impending apocalypse that usually does the rounds in the tabloids. We had such a good time doing it, and the response was great so we figured we had something to work with.
You have said that you want to “redefine value”, how do you want to do this and why?
Holly - We take discarded materials and change how people perceive them by adding value using various processes to create something unique and desirable.
Fiona – There is a lot of potential in forgotten and waste materials, it’s interesting to start a project with a concept and a material and see where we go with it. I don’t believe that using recycled and up-cycled materials means that the end product has to be any less high-end than any other. Obviously there are limits, tractor tyres are certainly not diamonds, but there’s a lot of scope to experiment with the concept of value within what we do.
You can see more work from Tropezar and follow their work at the Crafts Council Directory