We are excited to bring you our interview with Josefina Varela – one half of the duo behind the emerging jewellery label OSS. Join in on our conversation about the story behind OSS, the fashion scene in Buenos Aires and the role of malformations their designs.
Shop OSS’ jewellery HERE
How did you two meet each other and how did it lead to the creation of OSS?
We met each other in 2011. Pablo was working in a store and I went there to buy a present for a friend. Some weeks after that we met again in a club, and we started dating!
By then, I was finishing my studies in fashion and Pablo wanted to quit his job. So we started thinking and planning what we could do together. At first it was a men’s shoes project, we developed some samples but it was not working as expected. We wanted to develop some metal buckles, but to make the matrix for that was very, very expensive for the amount of shoes we had in mind.
In this context, we started a wax modeling workshop with the idea of making our own buckles (of course that never happened!).
I thought it would be cool to try and make a ring, ’cause in that moment we were so focused in shoemaking that we really believe it would be the only time in our lives we’ll have the opportunity to make some jewellery, so we thought it would be cool to give it a try.
Of course we fall in love with jewellery and most of all the making process behind jewellery, and that’s where the men’s shoe project (never had a name) died and OSS was born.
Do you think you’ll ever return to shoe making?
No, I don’t think so. But we will definitely consider a collaboration with a shoe brand.
What is the meaning behind the name OSS?
OSS is the name of an ancient Nordic rune. Our pieces have a lot of Nordic reminiscence, and we were looking for a name that was short and easy to remember, so the first time we saw OSS we knew it was the one. Mostly because of how it sounds and looks, and not so much because of its symbolic meaning, that’s just anecdotal now.
You’re based in Buenos Aires, what is the fashion scene there like?
Yes, we are! Argentina’s economic and political situation is quite complicated right now, so the fashion scene is in the middle of a huge transformation process. There’s a lot of emerging young (and not so young) designers, that are taking advantage of this situation, in a positive way.
And, at the same time, I think people are being much more careful and conscious of what the buy, choosing more handcrafted or small producers over industrialized ones, giving a much more important place to this designers in the local scene.
Can you tell us a bit of what your production process looks like from start to finish? What role does errors and malformations play in your designs?
Errors and malformations are the base of our project, and of each of our pieces and series. We work without sketches or previous designs, our production process is quite simple in that way: we just sit and work directly on the materials.
At first we always develop a piece (usually a ring) with a texture that will be the head of the collection. Then we usually have some ideas in our heads but when materializing them, something always changes. That’s pretty important for us, our pieces are in constant change and evolution. Not only in this first stage, but also once they have been finished in silver, we give them a rusty finish that will also evolve and change (in this case color), as it’s being used by its new owner.
Where do you draw your influences from?
Most of our influences come from materials. We found a lot of inspiration in natural erosion and destruction of natural (and not so natural materials); construction details, walls, natural faults, rocks, cliff or just a broken tile.
We believe it’s important to try and follow or use as a guide the natural errors and malformations we found during the production process, and do not try to impose a shape that has nothing to do with the material we are working with; that’s our most important influence.
You have a series of rings, bangles and bracelets called Cannibal, what’s the backstory to this?
Last year we developed and launched our first complete series or collection (’cause we started the brand with a small series of rings).
As you already know, we don’t work with previous designs or sketches, we don’t even have an established concept when we start working on a new collection, we just sit and explore different shapes and textures. We create pieces until we feel that everything makes sense and is balanced enough to be released. (We allow ourselves to include a new design whenever we feel it’s necessary, the collection will never be totally closed).
So when we finished working on this first complete collection we realized we needed to name it. We saw this kind of self-eaten texture we had created, and immediately think of cannibals. That’s how we named the collection and most of the pieces that are part of it are named Cannibal.
What do you do when you’re not working in your atelier?
We spend most of our time in our atelier! When we are not there we are probably doing what I’m doing right now, haha, answering some questions for an interview, or doing some social networking. Otherwise we just try and do some normal couple life.
Pablo is an electronic music producer too, so when he has some extra time he works on that.
Who are some designers and artisans you admire?
Richard Serra – a minimalist sculptor that works with steel metal sheets, creating large-scale assemblies. We admire that his work has a very strong and cold image.
Tadao Ando – a self-taught architect. We like his concrete constructions and his imposing, simple and functional structures.
Tatsuro Horikawa – the founder of Julius, we like how he works with black, the influences of science fiction movies in his designs and how he manages to balance in his designs opposite influences.
Three different artists from our three favorite disciplines: sculpture, architectures and fashion design.
Do you have any advice to people who are interested in starting their own brand?
Yes, to be constant and work hard!
Go to OSS’ designer page to shop their jewellery.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
OSS was created with the intention to explore the process of creation and production of jewelry, to create unique and multifunctional body sculptures, jewels. OSS is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where each piece is exclusively hand made by its co-founders Josefina & Pablo. Errors and malformations are used to turn beautiful fissures and transform them into textures. Without sketches or previous designs, the pieces are defined during the production process and are expected to continue to evolve over time.