Topiary & Ashe

Noir Collection

“Despite its name, noir requires more than black, it requires white… and an infinite spectrum of greys.” (

Noir has always meant mystery to me, a darkness that is compelling because of its understated elegance. I am drawn to the mystery of beauty and am fascinated by the idea that a simple shape or design can mesmerize us.

For me the connection with ‘Noir’ started about 12 years ago when I designed the keystone pieces of this collection – the set of three triangular inside-out bangles. As a young artist I send this in to a competition I could not even dream of winning. But my dream came true. With these designs I was awarded the honor of being one of the 30 winners worldwide of the highly prestigious World Gold Council Gold Virtuosi Awards (2002). My partner and I were flown to Italy to receive this award. Afterwards the pieces was exhibited at the World Gold Council Gold Virtuosi Awards 2 Exhibitions, Vincenza (Italy), New York, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Cape Town (2002-2003).

Much of my inspiration is taken from areas of design other than jewellery. These include sculpture, architectural and industrial design fields. I have also been greatly enthused by traditional Northern African gold jewellery and the processes used in its production. I have always marvelled at the finely crafted body ornaments of, among others, the Akan goldsmiths (Ghana), the Peul goldsmiths (Mali) and the Baule goldsmiths (Cote d’Ivoire). They have a remarkable sense of design, which is geometric yet organic, fine yet colossal. My own design signature has been influenced by these elements in their work. I would say that many of my pieces amalgamate the ‘feel’ of these jewels with a modern western architectural sensibility.

My design process normally starts with a model-building phase, and not with a visualization or drawing of the finished item on paper. I would start by taking a flat 2D shape cut from paper. Then I would manipulate it by twisting it or gluing its ends together or placing many of these shapes together in one design. Once I find a specific shape successful, I would aim to visualize its interaction with the body. The scale of the model is unimportant at this time, as it is only a visual interpretation of a 3D shape and can be scaled to any size in order to become a successful sculptural form or jewellery piece.

For me, this process creates designs, which exist as interesting sculptural shapes in their own right, meaning that they can be viewed from any angle and are beautiful as objects on or off the body. Polishing some surfaces and creating a matte or scratched texture on others enhance the multi-dimensionality of the shapes. Consequently they become sculpture with or without being worn on the body.

As I feel greatly passionate about this collection my aim is to continue to grow it, producing many beautiful shapes as adornments.

(All these pieces can be produced in Sterling Silver plated with a heavy gold plating or in 14ct or 18ct yellow gold.)