Due to the recent emergence of a certain popular TV series, many people acquired new fear – mycelium inoculating and spreading through our soft flesh. Martina Kocianova is a Slovak jewellery designer and contemporary artist/maker crafting fairy-tale pieces that are designed as extensions of the body. But don't worry, these 'shrooms are friendly.

Martina, when did you first start designing jewellery?

I started making jewellery when I was eleven or twelve, slowly progressing from making handmade Fimo and beaded jewellery to making resin jewellery and finally working with precious materials. The design and making process changed with each new learnt technique but the primary inspirations and aesthetic stayed the same. Firstly, I started experimenting on my own, then when I was 16, I had a little studio in the capital of Slovakia and finally in 2018, I started studying jewellery design at Central Saint Martins. Through different industry practises and newly acquired set of skills, I have started developing my aesthetic of a mushroom kingdom.

What is your biggest challenge as a designer?

Having patience. Being still in a world where everything is moving. Trusting the process.

Currently, I am going through a personal shift and I feel it. I am 23 and I feel how being a student and a young adult and a child is being slowly replaced with responsibilities and this weird feeling of maturity. 

What do you think is the most powerful thing about wearing jewellery?

Fashion and clothing show your current mood but jewellery represents the essence of your personality. Each piece represents a different story – a story you choose to wear every day. I love that precious jewellery usually becomes an extension of the wearer and almost like their personality trait. Something that comes with the person. However, I love that jewellery can be just a beautiful object on it’s own. It does not need a wearer, it is just beautiful as a decoration or even just as a memory hidden somewhere. It also carries value, like no other objects carry.

What do you seek to add to the world as a jewellery designer?

I just want to provide my own perspective and storytelling via jewellery or objects. I want the person to stop for a second and look at what can the piece represent when worn. What is the piece trying to say to me, what does it relate to? I love making jewellery that stands out as a solitary object but also can serve as an extension of the body. Almost as if it grows from the body of the wearer. A small detail that maybe not many will notice but when they do, it makes a imprint, a memory. And, in the end, I just want to make beautiful things while thinking of innovative materials and techniques mixed with traditional craftsmanship.

You have a bold and fairy-like aesthetic. Can you tell us more about your Mushroom Kingdom?

Since early childhood, my mum used to take me mushroom foraging into the forests of Slovakia. We used to wake up very early and look for edible mushrooms. She told me many fairy tales about creatures living in the forest and she taught me about which mushrooms are edible and how you recognise them from the poisonous ones. When I was a teenager, me and my friends used to collect magic mushrooms. This also represented a magical time in the forest, always trying to tell the magic ones apart from the normal or poisonous ones. These became core memories of mine and later, when I lived in London, I was looking for my identity and I was always thinking about the forest and the mushrooms. Later, I started studying mycology and the properties of mycelium. I started to actively forage again and found myself close to this fairy-like and mushroom aesthetic. I love when jewellery can serve as a form of escapism for just a moment. Also, as a child, I was obsessed with Barbie Fairytopia or Czechoslovak fairytales that later affected my aesthetics.

Last question: What would a utopian society look like for you?

I would love it if a utopian society would look and feel as if it were a very realistic dream. Nature would be much more prominent, almost taking over humanity with wild jungles, mountains and colourful fields. People would live in balance with nature and build houses that make nature stand out. I can imagine people would be surrounded by animals and mystical creatures such as fairies. Magic would be part of the society. The rights would be equal for everyone; hate, racism, xenophobia and homophobia wouldn’t exist. People would be much more connected then now, in communities, families would form much easier. Art would be supported and people would forage and grow and trade their food. This sounds probably just like going back in time but maybe that is what I would like. I imagine my utopian society would be much more colourful. Many butterflies, colourful fungi. All the world’s most colourful animals and flowers would live in close proximity to form a colourful society. I would like for people to have much less anxiety and live in a bit slower times. Learn how to enjoy and work through enjoyment. 

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Martina Kocianova is a Slovak jewellery designer, contemporary artist/maker focused on detail-oriented work, and a recent Central Saint Martins alumni. Her inspiration comes from her childhood spent in Slovakia, regarding imagination and memories. The fusion of Czechoslovak fairy tales and spending time in nature inspired her to create fantastical jewellery, serving as an extension of the body. Martina focuses particularly on traditional jewellery techniques, such as hand engraving, stone and wax carving and stone setting. It has been her dream for quite some time to create a mushroom-inspired collection, to successfully develop a mushroom mycelium material she could set inside the jewellery. In the manufacturing process, she focused on traditional techniques combined with the ingenuity of mushroom mycelium, which grows inside of the jewellery and symbolises tiny worlds and planets. 


Jewellery designer / Martina Kocianova @martikocianova

Interview / Kateřina Hynková

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