Blending architecture and craft with Doolhaus

Interview Amy Willing
Images Elise Vanden Dool

One of our goals with 107 Objects is to celebrate emerging artists, hobbyists, and people who have found a side outlet for their creativity alongside a full time job. Enter Elise Vanden Dool, architecture student and one-woman powerhouse behind jewellery brand Doolhaus. Elise will be debuting her first collection at the 107 Objects Makers Market on December 16-17, and we thought it’d be a good chance to catch up with her and learn a little more about her work.

Who are you?

I’m Elise, I’m 22, and I’m an architecture student. I’ve just finished my Bachelor’s degree and I’m working in a firm at the moment. I’ve always enjoyed craft and being creative and playing around with different stuff. I started making some earrings as a hobby, and thought I’d try and make a little something of it. That’s my brand, Doolhaus. I’m just seeing how I go with it and just using it as a little side outlet, incorporating my architecture learning and what not.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

I really like being outside. I make a lot of my stuff on our veranda at home, listening to music. I love going to other markets and seeing what other people are doing, as well as looking at Instagram, going to galleries, and getting inspiration from different places.

Credit: Isabella Doherty

How did Doolhaus come about?

I’d been seeing a lot of polymer clay jewellery around, and thought it looked really fun. Then I realised you can get clay at the bargain shop and I thought I could do this myself! I was just sort of playing around, and I made a few pairs of earrings and wore them out and about and a few people commented on them. I was like, maybe this could be a thing. So earlier this year I started developing things a bit more. I wanted to tie it in with what I had studied, and I was drawn to the colours of (Mexican architect) Luis Barragán’s work. That’s what I’ve based my first collection, Barragán Plane, on.

How did you come across Luis Barragán, and why does his work inspire you so much?

I came across his work through studying it at university. We were looking more at the spacial arrangement of the houses, because they’ve got thick walls and interesting ways for the light to come in. Obviously colour is a really distinctive part of his work. He does these vast walls in just the one colour, and it’s such a bold statement. He has a very distinct sense of place, and I thought that would carry over really well into jewellery.

How have the skills you learned in architecture carried over into your jewellery making – or maybe it’s the other way around?

I guess that it has taught me to have a consideration for the earrings as a whole, the way they take up three-dimensional space and the void space. For example, I’ve done the circular earrings in my collection, Loop, in layers of clay, so that you get a cross-section view from the side where you can see the different layers, but also from the front you can see the pattern that I’ve rolled out in the clay. They have a more three-dimensional quality rather than something flat, which I like.

Also just being precise in measuring! I use a scalpel and ruler and I weigh out the clay to get the right colour combination every time.

We’ve seen some pretty cool concept drawings on your Instagram. Can you describe the planning process behind a piece of jewellery?

It’s a lot of experimentation mostly. I’ll do sketches, and then I’ll play around, using what’s around me to make different shapes. Also wearing things out and about, seeing what works. Trial and error basically.

Best thing to listen to while you’re working?

I listen to podcasts most of the time. Recently my friend got me on to Reply All, which is really interesting – Facebook listening to us and all that…

Where can we find you on a Sunday morning?

I’m usually just at home, playing with the dog, having a nice Sunday breakfast with my family, and probably doing some jewellery making as well.

What’s next for you?

I’m not sure! I think I’ll see how this market goes and what comes out of it. I’m actually planning to pursue more study in architecture by doing my Masters, so I’m going to see how I can fit this in with everything.

I actually have plans for another architect who I want to do some jewellery based around – Carlo Scarpa. His work is in Venice. I did a trip there and it was really inspiring. It’s lots of gold and marble details, so the new collection might be more neutrals… I’ll see how I go. //

Find Elise at the 107 Objects Makers Market on Saturday & Sunday 16-17th December. See more of her work at www.doolhaus.com.

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