Motley x Zak Sheinman: Behind the Design

3 MIN READ | by Fatema Haji on Oct 19, 2021
3 MIN READ | by Fatema Haji on Oct 19, 2021

To celebrate the launch of our 2021 Young Designer collection – Motley x Zak Sheinman, we decided to explore the work behind the designs with Motley Product Development Manager, Jenny Parker. Read on to find out how Zak’s collection was made and what makes each piece truly unique.

Let’s start from the beginning – what were your initial thoughts when seeing Zak’s designs?

All of our collections at Motley work with different designers and their own distinctive aesthetics, ideas, concepts and visions – and Zak’s vision was incredibly exciting. Cecily (Motley Co-founder) met Zak as part of Motley’s partnership with UAL – Central Saint Martins, and was really taken by his concept of playful protest and super clever animations.

The idea – blowing up boring jewellery and playfully protesting archetypal shapes and forms – was super exciting for us. We also knew it was going to be a challenge to bring the pieces to life in metal (which is heavy and stubborn)!

The Motley x Zak Sheinman collection features some really intriguing shapes and billowing silhouettes – how do you achieve that, when you’re making the pieces?

The journey from a 3D computer render to a physical design is always tricky because of how different materials behave in the real world. Taking something as visually light as a balloon and translating it into something heavy like metal involves some wizardry.

Given the weight of the metal, how do you then create jewellery that feels so lightweight?

So, this is where the electroforming process comes in – it’s a technique that makes it possible to create light, hollow pieces from silver, and importantly, to retain the intricate detailing that makes Zak’s collection unique. We collaborated with our atelier in Italy who specialises in this process.

The idea - blowing up boring jewellery and playfully protesting archetypal shapes and forms - was super exciting for us.

What is the electroforming process?

It’s almost like a type of plating; a wax model is given a metallic coating and placed in a bath where particles of silver – a bit like static – are attracted to the surface of the model. So, instead of casting and pouring metal in, what you’re actually doing is building up lots and lots of really thin layers on top of your wax model. Think of it like an upscale papier-mâché.

That does sound like a very intricate process.

It’s ultimately a specialist process that is pretty tricky, in terms of how the makers make the moulds and have to get the desired shapes just right. For Motley, it’s a case of taking Zak’s animations and working very closely with the skilled makers to determine what is possible using this technique. It may be a case of making some of the folds wider, examining each curve and crease for the correct shape – and ensuring that you get an even coating of metal all round. There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to achieve that, but it’s always worth it.

Finally, do you have a favourite piece from Zak’s collection, Jenny?

You can’t have a favourite child! I’m proud of the whole collection. These pieces pushed the boundaries of what we had done before and what our makers have created too. We took a leap of faith to get the results we have and it’s super exciting. I’d say that there’s something for everyone in this collection – bold and out there, subtle and hidden…but I can’t pick just one favourite. It’s all brilliant.

The Motley x Zak Sheinman collection is available to order now. 

Motley x
Zak Sheinman

Gold Whoosh Hoops
Silver Boom Hoops
Gold Statement Clang Chain
Silver Pop Bead Bracelet
Gold Burst Chain Earrings
Gold Pop Bead Necklace
Gold Pop Studs
Gold Kapow Ring
Silver Burst Chain Necklace