Interview with Sonja Iglic

Winner of Jewelry Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Sonja Iglic shares insights


Interview with Sonja Iglic at Friday 4th of May 2018:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
SI : I‘ve graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. My studies were in Production design for Television, Film and Theater. The studies are a bit like the old school traditional art academy, where the students are introduced to subjects like painting, drawing, sculpting, graphic, anatomy, architecture, history of art and psychology, and in connection to all that, they are introduced to the applied art of our choice, scenography in my case. This type of studies are very rare nowadays, but they are essential for one to become a complete artist. A year after I graduated, I started with my jewelry journey. I went to a few courses to start with, but mostly been learning on my own every day. I‘ve tried to soak in all the information I could find through books, videos, interviews, people I‘ve met along the way. Each step has contributed to the knowledge I have now, and I‘m still learning.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
SI : I‘ve always loved creating new things, I enjoyed any type of craft, manual skill and I had fun while doing it. I‘ve become a designer out of that one desire to create. I think it is just a matter of a period of my life that will determine what I‘ll be designing, but the ultimate goal is just to give, to create, to invent new things.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
SI : If I look back to my elementary school and grammar school, I remember that I was never really interested in anything in particular that other students around me have been interested in. At the time, it felt like I‘m different in a bad way. I always wondered why I, in my essence, don‘t really care about all those things. Looking back to it from this perspective, it is so clear to me. There was no source of any type of design or creation in that period. I couldn‘t see it, no one was doing it, so I wasn‘t really aware that the things that I was interested in doing back home, were in fact special, and were worthy of a career. The things that I was making and playing with were looked at as a hobby, so I couldn‘t see it differently as a child. When I was in grammar school, I‘ve feared that in my future, I‘m going to end up in some office working in the administration to earn money and that‘s it. I‘m so happy that didn‘t happen and that I‘ve dared to try something that is not so tangible or safe. I was never forced to do anything but do decide what I want to do. My parents were always very supportive of my intentions, especially when they saw the results of my work.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
SI : At the moment, I am designing jewelry and fashion accessories, but I‘d love to start designing home accessories in the future. My intentions are expanding each day.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
SI : They should be present at all times. Awake is the best term. Trying to see it all, hear it all and read it all. Be curious, be daring, be unstoppable creative. Most importantly, always listen to their own little voice, because that way, you‘ll always design truthfully, honestly and you might shift some boundaries of invention.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
SI : A good designer can design a product that looks good, which has good functions and whose use is well thought out. He can create a very good product that is requested by companies or users. On the other hand, a great designer's breaks all boundaries, respects no rules, creates freely and tries to make a change. A great designer has the ability to take everything in the account and to give the overall solution by telling the companies and the users what they need to use, how and why, and creates it in an eye pleasing way.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
SI : If by looking at the product and asked the question: ‚What this product gives you that no other on the market does?‘ and the answer is: Everything! Then it is a really good design. In good design every detail counts, but on top of that, the function and the design have to be in harmony. Every part has to have a reason why it is put there, in correlation to the function. It has to be logical and easy to use.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
SI : As a jewelry designer, I can‘t really tell that everyone should invest in a good designer jewelry, because, it‘s not a necessity it is a luxury. But in a wider sense of design, the value is enormous. It is supposed to make the user's life better or easier. Everyone has at least one product that is truly meaningful for their everyday function. I say, always invest in at least that one item, as the joy it will give you is tremendous. Depending on what the products function is, it should make it much, much easier and probably more beautiful too.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
SI : I‘d love to design a whole collection of accessories for a fantasy film that could be directed by someone like Tim Burton or Peter Jackson. That would be amazing!

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
SI : I‘d like to have time and funds to make the ultimate fashion interactive exhibition that includes themed photographs with my designs. Everything seen in the picture would be designed, from the scenery and objects on the set, to clothes and jewelry in correlation to the movement of the body and the spirit of the model. Every atom of the photo should be a designed as a means of communication and should communicate the same message and the same idea. All that captured with amazing photographers and exhibited alongside with all the products used in the shoot. That is a dream project.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
SI : Being aware of everything available, being respectful to it and designing beyond it.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
SI : I‘m obsessed with designs from such amazing artists like: Zaha Hadid, Issey Miyake, Gijs Bakker and Victoire De Castellane, also, thinking from the sculptural artistic fashion point, there is: Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh, Nick Knight. All of them give me a daily inspirational boost if I need it. There‘s an unlimited source of inspiration from their works.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
SI : One of my favorite jewelry pieces was designed by a dutch designer Gijs Bakker, and it‘s called ‚Circle in circle‘ bracelet. It is an item that answers a question, what would happen if you were to pull your hand through a flat surface? What kind of form would you make? The design is so simple and elegant but at the same time so thought out.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
SI : I think the greatest is yet to come.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
SI : Just by trying to have the overall understanding of the world around you, and an extensive education about your interest of choice. The ability to absorb every information you encounter with, whether a conversation with someone, a book or a documentary on any subject and the ability to store it in the mind somewhere. When all of that comes together, the unique combination to every designer will improve the designs and create not just better but amazing designers.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
SI : I think I‘d have a job that has something to do with animals or nature in general.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
SI : Design is creation, development, improvement.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
SI : My family, who had to convince me to keep on going every time I didn‘t see a point anymore.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
SI : Being curious and respectful to fellow designers.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
SI : The biggest obstacle was always breaking down my idea to its components and then explain all those elements to myself firstly so that I could be able to explain them to my environment later on.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
SI : Be unique and true to yourself. Create meaningful projects.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
SI : Something that they haven‘t seen before.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
SI : Everything around us is design. Everything we see and touch someone in the world has designed. So in that sense, every new design is going a step further in improving. By trying to improve the model before, or the thought before, or the concept before, any design, good or bad, is changing the society, creating chained actions that are ultimately going to improve the way we live. A bad design can inspire someone else to do better, the great design can inspire someone else to try to give even more, create better. So everything around us really works together in order to improve our way of living.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
SI : I never share my projects in the process, because I change them in my mind so many times, and right now, I really don‘t know what will come out of everything that I‘m thinking about ATM and developing at the same time. Maybe none of it will see the light of day, maybe everything will. I never know in advance, so I choose not to talk about it as I enjoy the process of enveloping it in my mind.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
SI : It depends on the project and my state of mind. Sometimes the project takes really long, and when you see the result you might think, well that is so simple, it‘s great, but why did it take so long if it‘s so simple? Contrary to that, some of the most complex ideas took me less time… It all comes down to the time that an idea needs to grow inside my mind. And that time can vary greatly.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
SI : I always spend the most time looking at the worlds design on a subject. I spend days on pinterest, and the moment I feel overwhelmed by the information I‘ve gathered, I shut all that down. I start thinking about how to move past all the designs I‘ve seen and make something new. That is a moment when I truly start the thinking process.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
SI : Whatever you design or do, make it meaningful.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
SI : Both. It‘s a designer‘s choice which way around will it be.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
SI : I don‘t rely only on technology, as I think that the artist hand in the project is really important, but technology is a necessity nowadays. It makes everything faster. When I‘m in the thinking and trying out phase of the project, I can use 3D models and renders to see how it could look like in the end. It gives me instant feedback on my thoughts, so it‘s very helpful. But also, some of the best ideas I‘ve had, have come through while I was manually trying to make some part. For me at least, that‘s when I had come to the quickest problem solving.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
SI : It‘s a way to communicate an idea without the words. All those elements are sending some message on an subconscious level, so people instantly recognize and respond to it. All those elements are what our senses need to feel the environment: what color is it, is it dark or light, bright or dimmed, what‘s the texture, is it soft or rough, is it light or heavy. The ambient too: it gives the most information: the color, the air, the textures, the smell, all of that is forming an ambient. So all of those things give the information about the design and interact with the user before even thinking about it. That‘s why some people can‘t explain why they are drawn to one design and not the other. Because their senses are telling them, this is the one that suits you as a person. So those elements are really important in the success of the design.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
SI : How does it work?

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
SI : I want it, I have to have it, I hope to buy it someday.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
SI : The ideal partner is the one that understands me completely, not just as a designer but as a person too. He has to come with the same intentions, but different input, different education, different field in design so that our information and thoughts can come together and can influence each other. Co-design is the best way to design, but only with the right partner. I was lucky enough to have found mine, with whom I will co-design in the future. He is an industrial designer, so our experiences really affect the other, and can make great results. Two right minds put together are always better then one.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
SI : Interestingly, any book that has nothing to do with design. I get moved by the novels, poems or books about the way the human life works. Sometimes, even books about great inventors of all times.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
SI : Constantin Brancusi and Tesla.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
SI : I don‘t really think I‘m famous, so it‘s not hard at all! But maybe in 10 years I revise this question and answer differently.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
SI : My favorite color I think would be sea green, favorite place would be any place on Earth with a lot of nature, so a forest for example. I love seafood, especially Calamari. My favorite season is definitely spring! Favorite thing would be any music player and designer is really hard one, but let‘s say Gijs Bakker.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
SI : My day is great just because I get to do what I love. I get to do it when I want, the way I want and how long I want. So I don‘t have to motivate myself, I get motivated out of everyday experiences.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
SI : The world will be one big design machine working towards the better tomorrow.