Jorinde Meline Barke

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In conversation with Jorinde Meline Barke of JMB Jewelry from her apartment in Berlin.

When asked what she finds beautiful, without hesitating, Jorinde Meline Barke replies "Authenticity." A response I find extremely fitting given that Jorinde completely embodies and embraces this attitude in all aspects of her life. While speaking with her over Skype I feel immediately comfortable. She has an energy that is warm, engaging and utterly genuine.

I was introduced to Jorinde’s work through her boyfriend Frank Michels, who we collaborated with last year on the RELIC document tray, and immediately became infatuated. Jorinde’s use of materials, her focus on traditional craftsmanship and her contemporary design approach all meld seamlessly into a collection of jewellery that is as beautiful as it is unique. I became so obsessed with her recent GT collection that I asked Jorinde to send across a piece for my girlfriends birthday. 

As we speak about her personal life, recent collections and love of Berlin I am amazed by Jorinde’s openness. She is refreshingly real, and has a personality that is as unique as her creations.

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Jorinde Meline Barke - Photo 2 of 14 -

Hi Jorinde, how are you? 

Fine and you?

Good thank you. How’s your day been so far?

Great, I just dropped my boy to kindergarten and now I’m currently working on the new collection.

That’s exciting.

Yeah I was really looking forward to this point because I was spending time at home with my son for quite a while so now it’s back to business.

Your boyfriend Frank originally put me onto your work, did you guys meet at university?

No, we actually knew each other long before we were a couple. Frank used to study in Potsdam where he met his business partner David Geckeler and they moved in together. David ended up moving to UdK where I was studying and we became good friends. I met Frank at their flat.

Jorinde Meline Barke - Photo 3 of 14 -


Jorinde Meline Barke - Photo 4 of 14 -

You and Frank’s first collaboration was the LTAF Origin collection yes?

Yeah, we started dating in 2010 during Frank’s last year at university and we really wanted to do something together so he went off to the Indian jungle with a couple of really improvised samples we’d made and ended up spending three weeks there. It was a really fun project and the outcome was pretty interesting. It became the basis for some of my earlier works.

Apart from your collaborations, how do you influence each other?

When we were students it was quite intuitive but now that we have our own studios things have changed a bit. We don’t necessarily talk about all our designs or processes like we used to but we share the same interests and find inspiration in similar places which inevitably leads to interesting discussion.

Is there a separation between your work and home life?

I don’t think we want that.

No? So everything works harmoniously?

We both grew up in creative families. Frank’s father was an artist who worked from home and made sure to actively involve Frank in his work and explain things. My childhood was similar but my parents were…

Ceramicists?

Yeah! How did you know that? 

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Jorinde Meline Barke - Photo 6 of 14 -

I don’t know, it was the first thing that popped into my head.

Yep, that’s it. My sister and I were always exposed to this idea of merging life and work because our parents worked from home and really loved what they did. They worked until midnight sometimes but they never complained. They would take time off whenever they needed to spend time with us and we travelled a lot together. I grew up with the knowledge that managing your own business and working from home provides you with a lot of freedom…

That’s great, it sounds like a really creative environment to grow up in.

You gain a lot of self-confidence when you're actively involved in your parents lives, including their work. I think this is what led to me establishing my own studio pretty early on and it’s nice as I’m now starting to see the same self-confidence developing in my own son.

Children are so heavily influenced by their surroundings and are constantly looking at what their parents are doing so I think it’s really important to let them engage in all aspects of life.

Of course. I grew up in the country side and our household was pretty hands on, everybody had their own task. I was heating the oven, feeding the dog each day and we would also help our parents in the workshop, so we felt really included. Having this kind of upbringing meant it wasn’t hard to start my own life somewhere else.

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Jorinde Meline Barke - Photo 8 of 14 -

So you started JMB Jewelry in 2014, what were you doing prior to that?

Once I finished my studies I worked as a design assistant for a German clothing brand. I quickly realised that I couldn't work to their rhythm. Everything felt so restricted — Go to the office every day at 9am, eat your lunch at a certain time… it just took away my feeling of being alive. I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to do and realised that after all my study and work with clothing brands I was actually more into objects and accessories. I never really felt comfortable working with fabrics but designing accessories has always been much easier and something I find more enjoyable. I wanted to learn more about jewellery so I assisted three jewellery designers in Berlin and learned a lot by being included in the whole working process. After two years I decided to create my own outcome, so I started my jewellery line JMB Jewelry. Even though it’s hard work, it’s the only thing I can imagine doing right now.

What do you find is the hardest thing about running your own business?

Patience. (Laughs) I love to create and design a collection but this is only a small part of the process. You have to have a strong business mind and be well organised at the same time. The creative part is only about ten percent but I still really love all the aspects of owning my own business. You have to spend a lot of time developing systems which is something I find hard but you really learn about patience when you become a mother.

Can you tell me about your creative process?

I actually start with a really abstract feeling of what the collection should feel or look like. Recently I have been working on a new collection which is about flowers and fertility. Even if the pieces are really simple I need quite a lot of time to develop a collection. I start by doing lots of drawings and making improvised samples. It’s a mixture of 2D and 3D work in analog and digital which I switch between all the time. What’s really important is the communication with my goldsmith though, I go in with very early ideas and discuss with him if they’re possible. He’ll give me input that can help me to develop the collection further so it’s really collaborative and I’m able to learn a lot from these artisans.

That’s great. The GT collection is really beautiful and thank you so much for organising a piece for my girlfriend.

I’m really happy that she liked it.

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Jorinde Meline Barke - Photo 10 of 14 -

Yeah she loved it. Anyway, the imagery that Amos Fricke created to accompany the collection is also stunning. How do you choose your collaborators?

I actually come up with an idea for the shoot pretty early in the process. Generally before I’ve even finished designing the jewellery. For this collection I was really inspired by Gran Turismo and the new GT cars, which of course don’t have anything to do with the original concept of Gran Turismo. I was fascinated by Lamborghini and wanted to shoot the jewellery lying on a car, preferably a Lamborghini. I asked Amos early in the process and he was also really into the idea. He had already shot some cars before so it was a good match. We used to study together and he's such a great guy to work with. It’s so important when you’re collaborating with somebody that you can provide input during the working process and he’s that kind of guy. He's also really relaxed when he works which I find important and was why I decided to ask him. It’s actually funny because you can’t really tell that we shot on Lamborghini when you look at the images.

Yeah they’re cropped quite tightly.

Yeah they’re shot close up but they still present the industrial feeling that I was wanting to create.

So what do you love about living in Berlin?

It feels like home even though I didn't grow up here. I lived in other cities like Paris, New York and Munich which I enjoyed a lot because of the diversity of cultural input, but I always missed the feeling of being home. I love that the city is so green and airy, there is so much space. It’s like living in the countryside but you’re still surrounded by the city and metropolitan life. After being here for ten years I have lots of close friends in the creative scene and I would miss them so much if I lived elsewhere. With a baby it’s an especially great place to be.

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Jorinde Meline Barke - Photo 12 of 14 -

So when you aren't working how do you like to spend your time?

I love to be outside and do sports. I try really hard to include sports sessions into our busy lives.

What kind of sports?

I’m swimming a lot actually, and doing yoga regularly. I also really enjoy spending time alone. Once you have children it’s sometimes hard to find those moments because there’s always somebody around (laughs). Last week I went to the cinema by myself because it’s something I love doing. I also go to lots of exhibitions but that’s something I really like to share with Frank.

It’s nice to take some time for yourself when you can.

Yeah.

What does beauty mean to you?

Authenticity. When I ask myself when about the things I truly find beautiful it is always associated with authenticity. If I think about the exhibitions that have touched me the most they’re always art that is really unfiltered and you can see that the artist behind the works are obsessed with their idea. It’s the obsession that I find so inspiring. For fifteen years I’ve been really into Thom Yorke.

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Jorinde Meline Barke - Photo 14 of 14 -

He's incredible.

He’s just so authentic with all his projects. There’s this one track which is quite extreme but I have to say I often listen to it when I start to create something. It’s called Iluvya. I tend to find that the most interesting people are those who are authentic and are just exist the way they are. I feel that the only way to survive and to grow in what you're doing is to be true to yourself and work as intuitively as you can.

Thank you so much for speaking with me Jorinde.

Thank you!

jmb-jewelry.com

This story was originally published as part of our ongoing interview series exploring the work and lives of inspiring creatives. 

Photography: Ina Niehoff
Words: Nick Smith

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