Kirsten Goss has opened her new flagship jewellery store in the Silo Precinct in Cape Town and it’s unlike any other. We caught up with the woman on the cutting edge of jewellery design.
MINI Living: Your new store is unlike any other jewellery store we’ve been to. Tell us a bit about the concept.
My most recent work is my exhibition, which is titled “HOME”. The work speaks about how I’ve found home within other cultures, and how our bodies are our first homes, yet they’re the most unfamiliar and unoccupied spaces. Because, how I see it, you don’t live at an address or a place; you live within yourself. And you have to be at home with yourself, and that’s how I see everything fleshing out in terms of how home is my biggest inspiration.
I deliberately made it a space that was slightly uncomfortable in terms of being a jewellery store. I wanted it to be very unusual for the context – not what is normally done in a classic jewellery store. It looks like it could be a hi-tech German manufacturing plant meets asylum meets nightclub, but with a feminine undertone. It’s slightly kitsch, but so beautifully executed that the luxury is clearly evident. It was a very carefully thought-out combination of the playful, luxurious and slightly unexpected.
ML: So your aim was to break the mould?
KG: When you come into our store, it should feel like it’s an exhibition. The world has become so homogenous. Everyone is so connected on social media, it feels like we’ve seen even the most immaculate, beautifully executed stores before. You almost don’t feel like visiting them is a special experience any more. I wanted something that was completely unexpected and radical – something people had never seen before. Our idea was to turn the classical experience right on its head.
ML: And it displays the jewellery in a different light, too…
KG: The whole concept of the store is that the jewellery has nothing to compete with it. It stands out. We’ve really given it the optimum chance to show itself. The shop design itself really is a blank canvas for us. But it stands on its own beautifully, too. Actually, when there was not one single thing in the store, it was still quite heart-stopping. And as you add things, it also doesn’t seem to detract from that. I think that you will find the store design works in harmony with the pieces.
ML: Yes, you actually have changed the way jewellery is displayed.
KG: My bugbears are the bust and the earring stand. Every aspect of your design and the concept of your jewellery gets drowned out when you display it in that way. We go to such lengths with the packaging, the concept of the jewellery, the fact that it’s all hand-manufactured – every bit of the craft is authentic – and then you have to go and buy a whole bunch of busts just because that’s what’s available … it’s disappointing. We’ve been able to solve those design issues so that it feels like it’s completely fresh, and the jewellery isn’t hampered by the shape of a typical bust.
ML: How have you done that?
KG: The whole shell of the store is magnetic, so we can change the displays very easily. We designed magnetised earring displays that come out of the wall, and necklace displays that allow the whole aspect of the necklace to be seen. That feeling of the unexpected, avant-garde setting is already quite thrilling, but then I wanted people to be able to take their time enjoying all the little details … people spend a lot of time in the store, because there’s just a lot to consider.
ML: It doesn’t seem like a typical shop when you walk in…
KG: When you walk into a gallery space, the eye isn’t drawn to the mundane things like the counter or the till. The iStores were the first to do away with tills. We don’t have a till point in our shop either. We’re trying to make it more experiential and a little less obvious.