V&A Dundee

Festive Design Market: Stefanie Cheong

On the run up to our Festive Design Market, we talk to some of the exhibitors about their work, their inspirations and process. Hear from Stefanie Cheong as she talks more about her sustainable jewellery.

My designs are shaped by my material choices and zero waste principles. Since choosing to work with rocks I have developed a range of skills and knowledge specific to this amazing material. Working with stone like this is traditionally called lapidary but I like to keep my designs contemporary with a more minimal aesthetic. It takes some experimentation and planning - almost problem solving - to make use of all parts of the rock but is very satisfying.

A rock which has been transformed into pieces of jewellery.
Zero waste

I source my rocks from all over Scotland. I often research places of interest and types of rock before going out to look for it. For me it’s a bit like treasure hunting. Other times I leave it to chance - I see what I can find and then research what it is later. I always collect small quantities and only pick up fallen or beach rock. Recently I have been investigating waste streams of rock via building sites, quarries and stone merchants. It’s early days in experimentation but I hope to add this option to my collections, to make them even more circular and sustainable. I have also been working directly with V&A Dundee and Aberdeen Art Gallery, reimagining the floor tiles into collections for their retail spaces.

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My inspiration comes from looking closely at the materials I work with. Each project may be different but they all consider place, time and history. Every rock has a different story and I can find out a lot about the history of the earth from just one stone. The rocks often become the focus of the piece. For example fossilised coral collected from Helmsdale is from the Jurassic period - the time dinosaurs roamed around Scotland! Recently I have made my own rocks as part of a collaboration with a Thai maker (Kawisara Anansaringkarn) using e-waste. The project imagines what future fossils will look like, given the human impact on our planet. I hope that each piece can become a talking point to discuss the environment and give deeper connections to time, place and history.

This month I've launched an update of the bespoke collection using the V&A Dundee flooring made from Kilkenny Limestone with flashes of fossils throughout. There will be a couple of new designs including an interchangeable brooch, and the whole collection is available through V&A Dundee's retail shop and online store.

2021 has been full on and I would love some time to reflect on the issues of sustainability in more depth. I am currently participating in a masterclass about working with waste with Katie Triggiden and I hope to work out how best to approach and implement my learnings into my practice. I also have some ideas about an R&D project involving research into historical practices pre-industrial revolution to inspire more sustainable approaches to making.

You can find Stefanie at our Festive Design Market on Sunday, pop by and say hello.

Festive Design Market is in collaboration with Tea Green Events.