With remarkable talent and visionary ideas, Jo Riis-Hansen is one of her generation's most extraordinary designers
It takes a certain character to reinvent oneself; it takes even more to push the boundaries for what jewellery can be. With originality and creativity, Jo Riis-Hansen has explored the possibilities of her craft from the very beginning, insisting on changing people’s perceptions and preferences. From fashion accessories to wearable art
pieces, Jo is never afraid to follow her intuition, creating disruptions wherever she goes. With an exclusive collection created for Finematter, she’s once again ventured into new territory. Here, she recounts the experiences that have shaped her journey to becoming one of jewellery-making’s most innovative figures.
Jo Riis-Hansen: "The energy that you put into creating a piece of jewellery, someone purchases that, and the person can feel that energy."
Tracing your story from the very beginning up until today, there’s this connection between art and fashion that runs through your work and your development as a jewellery designer?
I like to find the voids. I like to go against the stream. When I opened up my first store, the jewellery industry worked in a certain way. In Denmark at least, jewellery was very traditional; Solitaire rings and strings of pearls. Often, I would find myself in high street stores, where they sold these novelties, and I would wonder why it wasn’t made in precious metals and stones. I was very interested in fashion and its cyclical approach.
When was this?
This was in 2000 or 2001, and I feel completely different about it today. But at the time, it was very exciting. When I read about this storefront in a newspaper, I decided to take it. I had just finished my apprenticeship, having done someone else’s creations for four years, because that’s what you do. When I started on my own, I decided to just do the pieces I had been wanting so much, but in precious metals and stones. I wanted it to be modern and fashionable with a fast approach, but in pieces that had meaning. I loved the jewellery of childhood like friendship bracelets and rings you would pull in vending machines. There were so many memories and so much love attached to them, and it felt devastating when they broke. So, I did pieces like that, but in precious materials and diamonds to make them last, and to hold people’s memories. Jewellery is all about memories.
And that was the first…?
That was the first, yes. And in those years, when I had my store, I got more and more hooked on fashion. Why not make jewellery an accessory? Not to devalue jewellery, but to make it just as important as any other accessory. It sounds weird saying that now, because it is exactly what jewellery has become.