SNEM & DIDEM YILDIRIM

Snem Yildirim & Didem Yildirim are two sisters from Turkey, founders of Studio Zigzag and based in both Istanbul and Ankara. Their particularity? To experiment materials, to create links between contemporary art and jewelry and between traditions and modernity. Meeting with Snem.

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Can you please introduce yourself ?

My name is Snem, Studio Zigzag is an Istanbul based contemporary jewelry studio established by me and my sister Didem, who come from different backgrounds. After working several years for big companies we decided to do what we really want and refuse to live an enforced life of modern times. And to make our dreams come true we set up our studio. Sometimes we create together and sometimes we work on different series.

How would you define your universe ?

We design and create by taking inspiration from the cultural texture and the geography we live in. We love the diversities and contrasts. Our universe is peaceful and has no borders. And the diversities of this geography are the colors of our universe & works.

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Can you please tell me more about your education / professional life ? How did you launch Studio Zigzag?

I’ve graduated from Gazi University Department of Architecture in 2010. At the same time I took ceramic course for 2 years. In 2011 I gain a scholarship and started to study Architectural Design Master Program at Istanbul Bilgi University where I met with several machines, materials and items used to make models.This was a chance for me to create my own jewelries and accessories from cardboard, wood or plexiglass.  2 years later in 2013 I attend “Detay Leather Product Design Contest” and gain another scholarship at Istanbul Fashion Academy in partnership with the University of the Arts London. During these periods I was also working as an architect but I realized that to design and produce wearable pieces makes me happier and free. Because it was a way to express my self, my feelings, my thoughts… For Didem the situation was similar too. For 2 years she continued Regional and City Planning education but then graduated from Law Faculty. But what we really want to do was different… So we decided to establish Studio Zigzag and focus on what we really want to do. And this was contemporary jewelry.

Where are you working ?

We have our own atelier. We are working at our atelier to produce works by traditional jewelry making techniques. If we need to work with industrial machines we use our friend Erdal Duman’s sculpture atelier.

How and when did you start jewelry ?

When I was at university in Ankara I met with a contemporary artist group who canalize me to the contemporary art field. In 2011 I moved to Istanbul for a master program and the city was a heaven of galleries, museums and exhibitions for me. With a group of friend we established a collective with the name of Inout Project and produced several art projects within the scope of city and public space. These years my thoughts about jewelry started to change. For me “contemporary” jewelry started to be a category of contemporary art, a way to express my self. And I started to produce new wearable works by using the materials and machines at the university.

When have you created your first jewel and which kind of jewel was it ? How was it ? How did you feel?

Like many children we were creating a lot of jewels from the found materials or toys. But the jewel that i still remember is the textile dolls necklaces. Every single day we were stitching the new ones for us and friends (it was so popular for our friends too) For long time every child we know was walking around with our textile dolls necklaces. It was funny!

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Which materials do you often use ? Why ? How do you choose raw materials ?

Everywhere have the potential to be a material library and as if we live in a megastore of the materials. To question the precious and non-precious concepts in the jewelry field makes us to experience wide range of materials. So we are working with the materials ranging from cotton to stone.  But nowaday I use often re-cycled plastic for Kanavice Series. The materials can not be thought apart from the idea for us. Sometimes the idea makes us to select the materials and sometimes the materials give us the idea.

3/3 More details about you and your universe

To conclude this interview, Snem gives us more details about her taste and her thoughts about the jewelry universe.

What are your personal favourite jewels ? What is its story ?

A leather- ceramic bracelet that my uncle gave me when I was 4 years old. And until today every single day I carry it with me.

What are the qualities of a good jewel design ?

If there is a story behind the jewelry and if the process of the creation of the jewelry, transforms something on jeweler for me it is a good jewelry

What would you advise to a student in jewelry ?

Knowledge is creativity. To be curious and to ask “how it’s made” would take you a step forward. From art to history, literature to music to get knowledge would give you inspirations.

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Do you create all your jewels by yourself ? 

We create all pieces by our selves. Also we make the furnitures for our studio or boxes of  our jewelries.  We are exploring the technics and if we need to use a new technic for new works first we learn and experience it. So we are taking an endless education.

Which jewel, created by another jewel designer, you would have loved to create ?

Shadow Jewelry by Gijs Bakker.

What are your projects ?

I want to combine my art projects with jewelry and nowadays I am working on 2 series: Mein lieber Diktator and 1 Euro Shop. I am questioning authority, obedience, implicit violence and pressure for Mein lieber Dikta- tor Series. And I am questioning precious and non-precious concepts for “1 Euro Shop” which is a series of “contemporary jewelry for all”