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Meet Jane Gowans - the designer making us think differently about jewellery

Scotland has always been a source of inspiration for Dundee-based Jane Gowans - one of the rising stars in the world of jewellery design.

Jane Gowans
Jane Gowans

Since graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone with a first class honours degree, Gowans has continued to use her homeland as a reference point in her work: its scenery, artists and close-knit communities have all proved constant sources of inspiration with which to interact creatively.

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The designer's seven collections to date have seen her win multiple awards thanks to the clever interplay between functionality and strong aesthetics, along with a healthy dose of craftsmanship and a dash of practicality.

Most notably, and although only in her fifth year of designing, the evolution from rookie graduate to artist is one of the key strengths of Gowans' work,  as well as a real sense of identity best evidenced in the 2014 collection Chimera - which plays on the idea of jewellery doubling as armour.

How many ways can a necklace or a bracelet be reinterpreted? Surely the possibilities are limited, and there's certainly no shortage of designers churning out the same old thing. But keep an eye on Jane Gowans - if her endlessly inventive past work is anything to go by, her best may be yet to come.

How has living in Scotland shaped your output?

It has been influential on a variety of levels. Living in Scotland has allowed me to develop my business from the ground whilst being able to experience a balanced lifestyle - something that I think is harder to achieve in larger cities such as London. I have also benefited from the Scottish design and fashion communities' togetherness and support which works hard to inspire and promote talent in Scotland. It is also impossible not to be influenced by the beautiful landscapes which I have referenced in my collections and most prominently in Geology Rocks.   

What inspired your conceptual collection, Hands [a range of handcuff-esque necklaces and bracelets that encase the wearer with a set of rubber hands]?

My degree show in 2009 was a fantastic opportunity to immerse myself in creativity and concepts and it allowed me to work with non-precious materials such as silicone rubber.  The collection was inspired by a trip to London. I was standing on the Tube and people were so close to one another that they were touching. I found it odd that although there was physical contact, no-one spoke or communicated verbally. The Hands collection looked as ways of communicating through touch that can be read and understood without spoken explanation.

How have advances in digital technology helped your business?

New technologies have changed the way in which a business can trade. The introduction of free marketing platforms such as Twitter and Instagram are invaluable in allowing people to engage with you. Technologies have also enhanced my practice. Building upon my training I now combine traditional jewellery making techniques with new processing including rapid prototyping (3D printing), which allows me to stretch my design potential and trial new ideas.

Which women in power do you admire and why?

J.K. Rowling is a great role model. She is not shy to share her tales of knock-backs from earlier publishers and has shown what hard work and determination can achieve.

If money and prior commitments were no object, describe your dream year.

I would spend it with my family and friends as well as going to the beach and climbing hills. In our work obsessed culture we rarely give time to the things that really matter including ourselves. I think it is really important to keep a happy body and mind - it will only enhance your work in the long term.

Tell us how your collaboration with illustrator Johanna Basford came about.

I have always been a huge admirer of Johanna's work since seeing her degree show in 2005. She has always been very clever with her direct marketing and so I thought it would appeal to her to send a parcel to invite her to collaborate with me. The parcel contained a Jane Gowans box with special laser cut insert, which laid out my ideas and ambitions for the project. I also included two of our JG minis in her signature monochrome colours. I think it is a nice touch to send things in the post: the tactile experience counts for a lot.

What do you wish you'd designed and why?

Lego. I love the way that its tactile assembly has created a timeless toy that bonds many generations.

What's most important to you out of innovation, creativity, and precision?

Creativity. It is key. Creativity and innovation sit very closely together but I like to believe that my artistic background has influenced my creative approach to business, marketing and design.  Remaining creative and trying new approaches is what keeps our customers engaged.

What are you doing to make women feel good?

I am creating jewellery collections that offer women the ideal accessories for everyday glamour. My designs are minimal yet striking, giving my customers the confidence to feel empowered and stylish in whatever they wear and do.

What's next for Jane Gowans?

We will be showing the latest Chimera collection and a selection of JG Minis as part of an exciting pop up at Tigerlily on George Street, Edinburgh, on the 22nd of May from 5-9pm alongside other talented Scottish designers including Karen Mabon and Hilary Grant, DIY Nails, Edward & Irwin and Sprrng Naturals skin care. Join us for a glass of Prosecco and exclusive shopping evening!

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