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Just Trade x SHU

- The Luna Collection from Sophie Howard

Q: What do you get when you combine a day at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), a competition, up and coming young designers and some talented South American artisan makers?

A: Amazing new jewellery collections!

At the beginning of 2022, Laura was invited to teach a group of SHU students on the Materials, Meaning and Making module how to work with Tagua (an incredibly versatile, carvable seed from the South American rainforests). Just Trade then ran a competition as part of the Module to see which of the students could design the most promising product range, combining what they had learnt about tagua with their own metalworking skills. The talented winners were Sophie Howard and Tommy Wild.

During the University workshop, the students were invited to sketch 60 jewellery designs in a short space of time to incorporate tagua and brass. On surveying his results, Tommy was drawn to his ‘orbital earrings’ and used them as the basis for his final collection. Consisting of a diamond shape cut out of brass sheet and orbited by a polished tagua ring, Tommy’s designs captured our attention, too. They are currently being worked on in Peru and Ecuador and we look forward to revealing the results in the autumn.

Sophie, meanwhile, turned to Peruvian and Ecuadorian mythology and folklore for her inspiration and was particularly drawn to Mama Quilla, much referred to in Incan mythology as the moon goddess and defender of women. Taking note of the skills that the artisans in Peru and Ecuador already have and the tools they have access to, Sophie set about designing a collection of products that reflected the research she had carried out and that would fit in with Just Trade’s existing collections. We were really impressed with her work and the thought and consideration that had gone into it.

Page from Sophie's beautiful sketchbook

Laura took the winning designs with her when she travelled to Peru and Ecuador in June/July and the initial ideas and concepts were further developed by the artisans during training sessions. Lizet in Peru took Sophie’s designs, experimented with scale and added texture to the brass, using techniques learnt in workshops carried out by Laura. Magdalena in Ecuador refined the ideas for the tagua components, which she carves and polishes before sending them to Lizet for final assembly and packaging.

We couldn’t be more delighted with the results and successfully showcased the Luna collection at Top Drawer earlier this month. The response was fantastic! Lizet and Magdalena are working hard on making the orders which are due to arrive with us in London ready for dispatch, March 2023.

Meanwhile, the winners are receiving a full set of professional photographs of their collections by the talented Josie Slade and an all expenses paid trip to the Just Trade studio in Peckham when the rooftop bar reopens!



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