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May 11, 2016
Culture

USE by Simon Williams goes global

Being a new label hasn't stopped Simon Williams' USE jewellery finding its way on to catwalks at international fashion festivals.

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  • Words: Sharmonie Cockayne
  • Pictures: Nicky Mellonie

Simon Williams established his label USE just 18 months ago. But already, his designs are being shown on the runways of Qingdao International Fashion Festival alongside local fashion label couture+love+madness.

Remarks

USE is sold at Zu Designs, Jam Factory and at SA Designer Co.

The eccentric crystal-inspired jewellery seen glittering on models at the event this week are the result of a unique collaboration between Simon and couture+love+madness designer, Cristina Tridente.

“[It’s] been a really fun and exciting process working with Cristina… We got together to discuss colour palettes and forms and came together to create my work inspired by her work, and it came out really well.”

The beauty in Simon’s work, which he says is directly inspired by the fashion industry, goes beyond being fun and wearable.

The process of creation is also out of the ordinary, with each piece made using moulds, resin and an experimental approach.

“I love the natural forms that crystals make, so I’ve taken that inspiration of crystals and created moulds, and have created work by casting resin into the moulds,” says Simon. “With [that] particular process, it involves a lot of mixing and matching pieces of crystals to create my own shapes and pieces, so it’s not just casting a singular stone.”

Simon graduated from Uni SA in 2005 with Honors and undertook a mentorship with the Helpmann Academy. Since graduating, his practice has evolved almost entirely away from the fabricated sterling silver construction pieces that he created at the beginning of his jewellery career.

Simon says his new aesthetic developed when he began using recycled materials.

“I’ve worked in the eyewear industry for 9 years, so I’m constantly getting handed broken pieces which normally go in the bin, so I’d kind of give them new life by up-cycling them into something a little bit more wearable as an accessory,” he says.

This unconventional ethos follows through in USE. Even the naming of the brand has a little quirk to it.

“The name came from a bit of a fun idea – kind of bad language. I grew up in the Northern suburbs, so the phrase ‘youse guys’ and ‘youse girls’ was quite prevalent. The word ‘use’ [relates because] I like to make things quite wearable, robust and not fragile.”

Simon, who works at both Zu Design and in his home studio, is now also teaching two courses at UniSA – one in jewellery design and one in eyewear design.

In just the last 18 months, he’s not only managed to put South Australian-made designs on an international stage, but also teach the next generation how to do the same – who knows what he’ll get done in the next five years.

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