Recently, Stringing editor Danielle Fox and I were marveling over a necklace that had been submitted to the summer issue by sisters Silvija and Taya Koschnick. It was so simple, yet very appealing, the kind of piece that both of us would feel comfortable wearing often, even though our personal styles are quite different. While there were many other beaded jewelry designs submitted that were more complicated or technically difficult, this simple necklace stood out in a good way. It reminded me that simple projects aren't necessarily simple to design. It's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that more is better, especially if you sell your work. Remember, the worth of your design is not just in the materials, but the design skill you bring to it.
How to Design a Simple (but not Boring) Necklace
There's no question that a sensational simple design can get you noticed. Stringing designers Silvija and Taya Koschnick of Tasi Designs are proof—some of their signature chain necklaces were recently featured in the movie Twilight. They describe their chic, modern style as a blend of "clean lines, movable parts, and patinated silver that appeals to every type of woman, without compromising its uniqueness." I asked them for a few design hints.
Michelle: What advice do you have for designers who would like to create elegant, simple designs? Are there specific materials, techniques, or design tips that you recommend?
Silvija and Taya: Know and love your materials! Growing up in our mother’s bead store (Bead Paradise in Oberlin, Ohio), we became interested in the stories behind the beads and materials around us. Once we started investigating the history of the bead trade, we couldn’t stop! Through our eagerness to learn more about beads, our eyes have naturally become more selective.
Beads are just the beginning; findings and technical skills both play a part in our work. We see the hardware (clasps, jump rings, chains, wire wraps, and head pins) as more than utilitarian, but rather elements that transform the rest of the design. Simple things like using handmade head pins as opposed to machine-made head pins make a big difference. If a wire wrap doesn’t look good, we’ll cut it and make it again and again until it looks great. When the findings and technical execution fall into place, they can highlight incredible beads instead of fight them for attention.
Michelle: What elements do you think transform a design from simple and boring to simple and sensational?
Silvija and Taya: Creating jewelry that looks great on can make all the difference between a simple design that is boring and one that is sophisticated. We spend a lot of time thinking about how a piece of jewelry will look while being worn. If a piece of jewelry falls flat when we try it on, we take it back to the drawing board and rework it. A great combination of color, shape, and movement complement the design as well as the wearer.
Michelle: Why do you think some designers shy away from making simpler designs?
Silvija and Taya: It seems like many people think that simple equals boring. When we first started designing jewelry, we felt that way, too. We tried to make different styles to appeal to a variety of customers. Our work looked scattered and unfocused and didn’t always appeal to us personally. We decided we had to make a change and only make jewelry that we wanted to wear. Once we made that decision, it was so liberating! Through collaboration, we developed a jewelry line that we both loved. A consistent aesthetic emerged within our work, and we felt that we could honestly tell customers how much we enjoyed wearing our own pieces.
What do you think? Do you have trouble with simple designs? Do you love them or avoid them? Share your thoughts on the website.
New Free Project
Silvija and Taya Koschnick
For an easy necklace perfect for everyday wear, simply attach leaf beads to oxidized chain. This web-exclusive project is from Stringing magazine. Look for another great necklace design by Silvija and Taya Koschnick in the upcoming summer issue of Stringing, plus 80+ stylish designs, a terrific article on eco-friendly beading, and money-saving tips for production work.