Corali is the latest addition to an already thriving jewellery design scene in Scandinavia. Summoning the aquatic energies of pearls, corals, and seaweed, Copenhagen-based founder and designer Caroline Sillesen makes delicate jewellery pieces that are as sculptural as they are timelessly modern. We sit down with Sillesen to discuss the launch of her own business, and learn more about how jewellery fits into her larger artistic practice.
What is your earliest memory with jewellery?
When I was a kid I used to sneak into my mother’s wardrobe from time to time to find her jewelry box. I would just sit with it on the floor, staring at all the fine pieces she had. I remember a lot of big earrings from the 80ies. You know the clip on ones with a white pearl in the middle and a lot of gold winded around it. After a while of admiration, I would put the jewelry box back again. That’s the magical thing about jewelry. It’s like a treasure, that will last longer than you if you take good care of it.
Where does the name Corali come from, and what does it signify?
Corali is an equivocal name with both a reference to my own name, Caroline, and to the ocean theme of the first collection where corals, seaweed and pearls are the main motifs. I work as an architect/artist as well (graduating my Master in Art & Architecture next summer), where I use my own name and didn’t want the two things to get mixed up. I hope you can see a common thread in my paintings, sculptures and jewelry, but I wanted Corali to be independent and perceived alone.
Where you trained as a jewellery-maker? What is your interest in jewellery as an object?
No, I see myself more as a sculptor trying to tell a story through tiny beautiful sculptures. I work closely with my goldsmith, whom makes the jewelry here in Copenhagen. My abilities and interest is in drawing and shaping each piece, creating a small world around it. I love to learn new things about the handcraft and I’m present in every step of the process, but I think it’s about acknowledging your limits and your skills, and then find good people to trust your precious things with. For example, I drew some ocean patterns for the little silk jewelry bag you get with your Corali piece. I print on the silk myself, washing and steaming the textile ready for transformation into a little bag, but I am a terrible seamstress, so I have a dear friend, who sews the bags for me.
Your pieces cite both modernist traditions of design and organic “found objects” from nature. Does your work fall into a particular temporality or history?
To me, the pieces themselves are timeless, and could be in a jewelry box for another kid to find in 60 years. I like to think that the pieces are modern and responsive to their time, but with references to a forgotten time – or history – that will make you wonder and imagine.
What was the starting point of your debut collection Algae?
I’ve been working on the Corali project for almost three years before launching, so you can imagine the amount of pieces that have been sketched and made before cutting down to the final six. It’s difficult to describe, when something was a part of an earlier idea or when it became Algae. But when it’s right, you know it. It kind of clicks. Growing up, I spent my summers by the ocean in my family’s country house, and have always been equally fascinated and scared of the sea. This place, where everything is quiet and filled with a sort of emptiness. The time does not exist here. Only the infinite tact of the waves.
Where do you hope to bring your brand in the future?
As told, Corali is one side of my creative expressions. Hopefully Corali will grow organically alongside with my bigger sculptures and paintings, continuing to reflect on each other.
All images by Rasmus Weng Karlsen
For more information, see Corali