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Darja compares an artist with a perfumer: “A perfume – that is something very magical – is created according to a recipe.”

“This is just like my creative process: I go by the recipe. I prepare all the steps. And then I follow the formula step by step. I am not a sprinter but a long-distance runner.”

Nonetheless, even if the recipe is followed strictly, the outcome still depends on the perfumer who has mixed the components in most personable and suitable proportions.

Darja Popolitova is a young but already phenomenal jewellery designer from Estonia who graduated Master’s with cum laude, received the scholarship SA Noor Ehe and has taken part in various exhibitions. The young designer’s pieces have been presented in international projects and her plans for appearances are set also for the next year.

It was a wonderful journey to have a talk with Darja about her perspective on design, aesthetics and the world. We kindly invite you along! No worries, we are not going to have a long-distance run, but an open-minded flight.

Darja – designer or an artist?

Designer and an artist. With one leg, I walk down the artist’s lane, with another one, down the designer’s lane. It is like a bilingual person. Or, on one day I write poetry, another day novels.

Dear reader, a question for you – are you drinking juice or poison?

I will quote my mentor and teacher Tanel Veenre as his words bring out the essence of my understanding the best:

Art is like a syrup. There are not many of those who drink syrup. This is like a poison! One cannot drink poison a lot, otherwise he will die.

But one can teach himself to gulp it by having a bigger amount of that every day, drop by drop. Therefore, he is eventually able to drink the concentrate with ease. Design on the other hand is like juice, it is the diluted syrup. This is meant for the wider spectrum of audience. So, the first is for those who want stronger stuff. There is less of them, but they exist.

Sometimes I see my pieces in a gallery where not everyone can afford them. I have given it a hard thought a while ago: if to be an artist or a designer. But I want this to be more democratic! I want my jewellery to be obtainable for everyone who is interested in it.

A trigger for a material girl

It is the need and passion from inside that urges to create. One needs challenges! As an artist, I find it pretty boring to repeat myself. I feel like a robot when I have to repeat the techniques and ideas that I have already mastered and revealed to the world.

In jewellery design, we are like material girls and boys. By that I don’t mean those characters from Madonna’s song, but our selection of materials to work with is not limited. We are the only one among general design fields like ceramics, leather, textile, and product design that has the plenary choice of material.

Hidden Information

It often happens that all the details fall into the right place. All fits together. It is my privilege to notice and use the opportunity to create the jewellery. Every previous work informs the next one. There will be some loose ends that need to be tied up in the next project. There will be unanswered questions that will be answered with the new creation. First of all, I want to be surprised by the answer and outcome. Then I want to surprise the audience.

How to understand what jewellery suits me?

It is like crystallization – one is growing wiser and the mind is growing deeper. Through this process all the unnecessary stuff is left behind. Person will carry along only the sacred values. When getting older we comprehend what we like, what not. Through this, we seize the merits and understand what is best for us. We sort of become crystallized. And we want only the things that have the same value.

Who have been your greatest teachers?

Piret Hirv and Tanel Veenre. I see them as my mentors. I started with glass in my BA but studied as an intern in jewellery design department. I felt hunger for it! I did extra tasks and went to extra lessons. Piret is working with students very delicately, she is like a psychologist, she is very deep and in some peculiar way she gives time. I am not sure if I am able to point out what it is exactly that she is doing but it is very right. She gave the chance to grasp and learn by myself. But Tanel is really fast, like flying around. I always had to catch him but the short moments were super fruitful. I did admire my teachers as gods; I prepared my lessons and waited for my turn. This was my attitude and it kept alive the enchantment.

A good teacher is a good person, also on a personal level – how she behaves, talks, what is the attitude. She is a role model. If me and the teacher understand each other, something magical will happen, something big will be created.

Darja Popolitova Brooch

What about you as a teacher yourself?

After graduating MA, I was invited immediately to become a supervisor-lecturer. I had to start proving myself. And I took the challenge. I have a principle: me and my students have to have a certain distance during a project; it should not be customary to go out partying together. Otherwise, the magic will be broken. I believe it’s like this everywhere, in every field. It is not possible to do simple everyday tasks together and keep the mystery. Some limits must remain.

Learning is not an equation, it is an experiment. That’s why I don’t have to know everything as the field is so wide. We discover together. While learning or solving some issues for the project, one has to investigate, demolish and build up the theory, simultaneously testing materials. Theory is an essentially strong genre. Another important aspect is staying next to my students, being around and always accessible; even if they need advice during the night I have to be there for them.

Why is it important to study?

I believe that there are many gifted artists who don’t need to study. For them it may even be harmful to dive into a school system. I’m not sure if I should say that it is important to study.

But it is important to be cultured, to understand principles of how the world exists. In school, even if some projects and lessons don’t make sense at first, they are necessary for grinding skills. School is the place where crystallization process is faster.

Idea behind your collection “Killud” (Fragments)

We are a whole but fragments of the society at the same time. We enter the bus, we draw up a small community. With every next stop, the whole is becoming new and loosing previous pieces. We go to the church to pray or to a café to chill and read, to sushi restaurant, to school. We travel in non-linear ways, we compose different wholes piece-by-piece.

The modern generation wants it all and immediately. For me as an artist, it is intriguing – the hybridity, the disarrangement.

Where does this fragmentation bring us?

Future – I like and dislike contemplating about it. About ten years ago, it seemed tricky to answer it. Now we are able to correspond more easily. But I leave the ends open by saying it is here. The future is so much more realistic than is the actuality right now. Future is so close.

See more about DARJA POPOLITOVA Wuruhi Designer’ profile here

Darja Popolitova: Jewellery artist and designer, guest lecturer at Estonian Academy of Arts and museum pedagogue at Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design.

Interview and Article: Piret Mägi

Darja Popolitova Piret Mägi Diana Pashkovich Alli-Liis Vandel Marii Sadrak Raileen Lelle

To shop smart. This is central to my own philosophy and experience. We do not need many things but we do need great things. / Founder of Wuruhi.com