My name is Yuliana Ilina, I completed the BA in Fashion Jewellery at LCF in 2020 and currently based in Moscow, Russia (due to the pandemic restrictions). With a BA in Management of International Business and a background in marketing and product design, I have found myself as a passionate designer focusing on sustainability and innovative eco-friendly approaches. Aiming to shift the jewellery industry towards sustainability and material ecology, I challenged myself to harness materials and integrate them into jewellery by combining ethically sourced metal with biodegradable elements.
In 2019 I wrote a dissertation about integrating biodesign into jewellery. So far, my body of work includes experimentation with agar, corn starch and mycelium to unveil prospects for jewellery and alter conventional standards.
While working on my Final major project, I developed a material based on mycelium with embedded Swarovski crystals and adapted it, especially for jewellery. My mission as a designer is to identify how to make the distinct organic material's features beneficial for jewellery practices and a desirable state for social perception. By turning organic matter into a flawless jewellery piece, I show that sustainable design can be sophisticated and appealing as well.
No doubt, yes! I’ve always cherished a dream to launch a fashion brand as a designer. Fashion is not merely the 'eye candy’ or trendsetter for me, it has always been my ultimate passion, a creative way to express my individuality, indicate my mood or even make a statement - yes, it’s a visual language – sometimes bold, sometimes eccentric, but always appealing! If you speak ‘fashion’, you can say so much about the person at just one glance! It’s all about details, light and colour, silhouette, symbols and how they match.
Fashion is the art we literally live in.
Since my graduation, I’ve been looking for work opportunities in the EU and UK. Unfortunately, in the midst of the pandemic, there were not so many of them available on the market, especially for a foreigner in the UK. Within the challenging current context, I could see only two tangible perspectives for a new designer: to work as a freelancer or to launch a brand. I’ve chosen the latter. I’ve been working on the new collection for quite a while and researching the legitimacies of running a jewellery brand, manufacturing solutions and exporting jewellery worldwide.
Well…Once you open the pandora box – there is no way back. My learning journey within the final year took me to a more advanced level of awareness and understanding of how I identify myself and what I stand for as a designer. It encouraged me to step out of the conventional design paradigm and dive into biomaterial exploration adopting scientific approaches for jewellery. Seeking out new sustainable perspectives, I turned into an amateur engaged with diverse experimentation on the edge of biology and design. It helped me to clarify my ethical vision and highlight the path within the sustainable design context that I pursued in my YDENTITY brand after graduation.
Within the unprecedented situation, when there is no access to the workshops’ facilities and materials, I learnt to regard every challenge with visualization of my work not as a limitation, but as a potential to push the boundaries of my capacities and my own self as a designer. If you admit the situation, you will be able to focus not on a problem, but on the goal: achieving it makes you see every obstacle as a resource and reveals inspiration instead of anxiety.
I designed and created through action learning and juggling holistic and digital tools and spaces. I developed my designs by capturing body choreography and direct material/shape exploration through testing on the body. I used any available material to make quick 3d mockups and in the meantime enhanced my software (Rhino, Photoshop) skills by watching online tutorials and practising. I also discovered new digital platforms experimenting with 3d files and videos and arranged home photoshoots without physical jewellery pieces.
Overall, remember that there are no limits to creativity. Being a designer means to retain an open mind in any situation and remain creative not only in designing but also in seeking new solutions to maintain design practice.
I intend to launch my brand properly and go international. In the meantime, I see the perspective to proceed with my biodesign practice and enhance my skills by developing sustainable materials and approaches for jewellery. Also, whilst doing the course, I found out that I quite enjoy consulting and curating the students, so perhaps, I regard myself as a tutor in a few years. It’s a funny thought, but there might be a chance I will come back to UAL, but this time - as a tutor.
The reputation of LCF within the fashion world. The creative atmosphere and the freedom to express yourself and evolve as an artist. LCF celebrates diversity and promotes sustainability. The system of education at LCF pushes the boundaries of the mindset encouraging curiosity, experimentation and self-learning. It opens the doors to the creative community of like-minded professionals of the fashion industry.
I’ve always had this inner desire to create and express myself through jewellery or accessories of any kind. I found it even more exciting to be able to design and make them myself. The process of creating a garment or jewellery is some kind of magic, a journey, a story of life/mood/gender/culture – ALL of it fit in the tiny fashion object!
Fascinating, isn’t it? If it’s the ultimate goal for you - the course will guide you towards it through various traditional and modern techniques and approaches. However, the result of your education is up to your enthusiasm, dedication and desire to learn – no one will do it for you. It takes a lot of hard work, research, self-education and resilience and faith in your talent.
Another thing to say is that having the diploma of UAL does not automatically mean you will be showered with job offers from the most prestigious fashion brands after graduation. Don’t delude yourself – to find a well-paid job as a designer is another fight you will have to win! If you think that the education at UAL is expensive but will be paid off - then think twice before starting the course – it’s majorly the investment into your passion, creativity and personal growth as an artist, not into your bank account in the future. The fashion industry is way too competitive, so be ready to fail and try again and again or just honestly consider your desires: perhaps, you would prefer to create and design for your own good, not for a salary. Be sincere and ready to answer these questions for yourself.
I grew to like every step of my artistic journey. It was not always smooth, but definitely transforming and emotional. Every project was challenging and individual, but there was always space for experimentation and speculation with the concept, materials or techniques – I think it’s what I enjoyed the most. It’s incredibly inspiring to observe the evolution of myself as an artist turning the ethereal idea into the tangible and desirable 3D outcome.
All projects I completed on the course are dear to me because each of them was an integral part of my entire personal growth. However, my final major project is the quintessence of all the skills I’ve acquired and the values I share. ‘Evolution’ collection highlights sustainability and the interconnection of the eco-systems with humanity. Inspired by nature, I make a statement: ‘My jewellery is alive. It is a natural consequence of evolution.’ Like any other element of nature, it ‘grows’ and dwells interacting with the wearer: it tames you but trusts you with its life. It’s a momentum of total awareness, like if a butterfly suddenly lands on your shoulder and you freeze holding breathe because it’s a fragile beauty you want to last.
My designs are influenced by the circle of life and death, the transition of form and the texture of the material. It is a metaphor for a ‘flesh and bone’ structure, a metal contour with a biodegradable surface: the latter will vanish with time, but metal remains. The dramatic transformation of design tells a visual story of my jewellery and makes it personal. Throughout my work, I intend to make people feel attuned to nature again and to raise awareness about the environmental crisis. I do believe that a jewellery designer is a social influencer who is responsible for the culture of production and consumption as well as the perception of what the art of jewellery is about.
There were plenty of them as the tutors grew to be my friends guiding me through one project to another. As a student, I would rather share my own advice with you regarding the tutors: listen to them but listen to yourself first. They are here for you with the only one aim – to help you understand who you are as a designer. So, the best you can do is to be honest with them and openly share your ideas and thoughts. If their recommendations resonate with your inner vision – go for it, if not – keep searching for what is yours. Either way, they will support you and encourage you to go further in your creative journey.
Enjoy it! Don’t be scared to express your vision and emotions – instead, embrace them! If there is something on your mind, while you are working on the project – say it with your jewellery, make a statement! MAKE IT PERSONAL – it’s my main advice. It’s the only way to find who you are as a designer. You can do NOTHING WRONG if you follow your heart, your inspiration, your instincts. Do not limit yourself with rules and judgements. If there is a topic/subject/discipline that you are passionate about, but it’s not related to jewellery or the project’s brief – don’t give it up but give it a go! Research it first, try it, test it, experiment with it, play with it. Once you make it your own – you’ll have insight into how to integrate it into your project!
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