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Karin Castens Designs

Karin Castens Designs

Today's featured designer is Karin Castens. Karin Castens is the creator of iconic designs such as Two Forever.

We had the rare opportunity to interview the exalted designer Karin Castens who was recently announced as the Designer of the Day by the A' Design Award and Competition. Karin Castens is the creator of iconic designs such as Two Forever. We got exclusive answers to our questions about Karin Castens designs and design philosophy.
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, how did you become a designer?
Karin Castens : I was taught the basics of jewellery creation at the castle Engelsholm in the mid 90’s, when attending an art school there. Here drawing and sewing was my main subject. But then for one week everyone was allocated to a different study and I ended up in the jewellery workshop. Here the heavens opened, a beam of light came down and the angels sang as I realized my calling. Nonetheless I afterwards studied at the university for 7 years and subsequently followed a career within marketing and communication –while running a hobby workshop in my basement where I worked with jewellery whenever time permitted it. Though having attended the Institute of Precious Metals, I have never done an actual apprenticeship with a master jeweller. When the recession set in and I found myself without a job, I decided to do the one thing one should probably not do: Start a professional studio workshop where I created and sold high end jewellery. However, this of cause meant, that things only could get better – and they certainly did!...
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, what are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
Karin Castens : My designs always start with a drawing – sometimes on the go I design in a small sketchbook which I always carry with me and sometimes, if it is a big project, I create a gouache on tinted paper, which is a work of art in itself. Most projects are created by hand at the bench in my workshop – either by myself or my employees. However, on rare occasions such as the Two Forever design, I deem it necessary to have it created in 3D in order to get all the lines absolutely symmetrical.My work comprises of a combination of 100% handcrafted pieces, pieces with cast details, such as flowers, settings etc. and fully cast pieces, which only need renovation and stone setting, once the design has been created and a mold made. I pride myself to have very skilled jewellers in my workshop, who can do practically any sort of task! A necessity because I personally only have time to design models for new collections and special commissions....
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, which emotions do you feel when designing?
Karin Castens : Ahhh… that dream phase where everything is possible is wonderful, isn’t it? Paper is grateful, as we say in Denmark, and so I can work for hours doodling away before I slowly encircle the exact right proportions and lines. This state elevates me, which is not smart, when I wake up in the middle of the night because my inner muse has decided that I NEED to get a certain design, which has popped up in my mind onto paper. Now. However, when subsequently working with the piece at the bench, I often slip into the desired state of flow. Because most of my pieces are actually one of a kind, they demand my full attention and I have to stretch my abilities and knowledge to their maximum in order to be able to create yet a new piece to the world, which is totally new and untested....
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, what particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
Karin Castens : As mentioned above, I actually hold an academic degree within the History of Arts and I can see how this vast well of art knowledge has provided me with the ability to perceive and appreciate the lines, details and execution of more or less any art form which I come across in my daily life as well as on travels. This also means that I am never–ever running out of inspiration! My challenge is not to come up with new design ideas, but the lack of time to bring just a fraction of them into reality!...
Karin Castens, what is your growth path? what are your future plans? what is your dream design project?
Karin Castens : I would love to work more with high end versions of my design, meaning more and larger gems and diamonds and in general oumpf up the opulence of the jewellery. A wedding ring has to be practical for everyday use, and I respect that, but so much more fun is to be had with other pieces which are created in order to adorn and convey the taste of the wearer. In my case, my customers are free-spirited individuals who are not ashamed to show off their love of fantasy and romance. These sort of people are few and far between in Denmark and so I am looking outside the borders of my small country to find the customers which I can make happy with my particular design aesthetic....
Karin Castens, what are your advice to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
Karin Castens : Always carry a drawing pad! You never know when the ideas surface, but often they do unexpectedly – in the Metro, when the curve of the approaching tunnel inspires you, at the market, where the pile of red apples bursts whit color or at your nephews’ baptism, where a detail of the altar catches your interest. Always be open to these influences and transform them into your particular field of design. So many aspects of being a designer can be learned, but what makes your designs unique is YOU and YOUR ability to be inspired and come up with ideas. Always come up with more ideas than you need, just to be sure that you execute the right one. The “worst” that can happen is, that a design process results in more than one successful design....
Karin Castens, you are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
Karin Castens : Most draw and some build models in order to develop an idea. I have experienced, that keeping on learning new techniques within these two fields has proven very beneficial. In my case I have had my only-pencil-period, then a green marker with a black fine liner on top, for a long time I have worked with pencil and the fine liner and currently I am experimenting with colored pencils on top of tinted paper. The goal is always to make the project as easy to imagine for your customer as possible and hence being a good artist when it comes to drawing is rather crucial!...
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, what is your day to day look like?
Karin Castens : My workday always starts with a short, 10-minute meditation, where I focus on gratitude, send my love to those who need it and then turn to the goals for today, the near future and the big audacious future goal. Priming myself this way grounds me enough to handle the many mishaps which can happen during a work day. At work I spend the first half of the day at the computer, where I handle administrative tasks as well as marketing and of cause design. Come afternoon, if time permits, you will find me at the bench amongst my jewellers, where I create these little dreams of gold and diamonds, which someone in the near future will be happily wearing. It is a good life and when I bike home though the beautiful city of Copenhagen, I feel tired and truly blessed!...
Karin Castens, how do you keep up with latest design trends? to what extent do design trends matter?
Karin Castens : I have never created jewellery based on trends. Mostly trends are out of tune with what I prefer and so I ignore them. However, I always follow my peers in order to be inspired – trends or no. “Direct inspiration” is in my book to see a piece of jewellery and thinking to myself “I like the basic concept, but I would never have executed it that way”. Then I set out to create my own version, which usually is so far removed from the inspirational base, that it is virtually unrecognizable – as it should! ...
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, how do you know if a product or project is well designed? how do you define good design?
Karin Castens : Being a jeweler, aesthetics is a major part of the overall design. However, to me practicality, usefulness and a basic lack of annoyance when wearing my pieces is a concern too. To me, the ultimate design is a piece which is beautiful, pleasant to wear and preferably also conveys a certain idea or message. ...
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, how do you decide if your design is ready?
Karin Castens : Ahhh… knowing when a design is “right” is a FEELING. Like when adjusting the temperature of the water you are about to shower in. You will KNOW when it is JUST RIGHT, won’t you? However, at times I revisit an old design and decide to do a second take on it with the knowledge and know-how I have gained in the meantime. Never be afraid to admit, that your design could become even better!...
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, what is your biggest design work?
Karin Castens : My proudest piece is the grand Adorabella tiara – a convertible piece of white gold, diamonds and mysterious Tahiti pearls which is a pure labour of love. It took most of a year to create and making it move like it should for a necklace while being rigid on a stand for the tiara version was a real design challenge. However, the result is literally worthy to be worn by a princess and I hope this will become true in future!...
Karin Castens, who is your favourite designer?
Karin Castens : I love the designs of my fellow Dane, Lene Vibe. Her designs are quirky and she embraces imperfection as a part of her design, which I find daring and beautiful. Having seen my pieces, the obvious dead designer deeply respected and loved by me would be Lalique, though Mucha and Horta of cause also are on my list of most adored designers. What I like about these designers is, that while they all embraced the same flowing lines of the French Art Nouveau as I do, they all worked with a lot more different medias and often ended up designing a “gesamtkunstwerk” where architecture, furniture etc. was created to work together. This uncompromising approach to design is truly inspiring! ...
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
Karin Castens : I often claim that my design is not very Danish, understood in the way that Danish Design is minimalistic and without adornments. But I love scrolls, bubbles, flowers and details! However, many of my simpler pieces still refer to the main credo of Danish Design: functionality. The Two Forever bridal set, which was my participation to this years A’Design Award celebrates just that, while still maintaining what is so characteristic for me: the soft lines and shapes.Because I am so aware of the fact that I stand on the should of giant, the Design Museum here in my beautiful Copenhagen is probably the museum which I have visited the most and where I can discover and cherish ingenious and aesthetic solutions to everyday problems – even when the “problem” is as inconsequential as “how do I convey to the world how special I, as an individual, truly am?”...
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
Karin Castens : When working with people and having employees, it is impossible to avoid that things at times “go south” and this is when loving what you do and whom you do it with comes in very handy. I do my best to praise when praise is deserved and my employees and I have a lot of fun during the day, Caring for their well being while they make my designs happen in real life is enormously satisfying! In Denmark the hierarchy of a workplace is generally very shallow, meaning that I prefer to show the way by walking in front rather than sitting in the back and shouting at people to do things. This, I believe, creates mutual respect and a work ethic which inspires my employees to do their best for the company and our design....
Karin Castens, what are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
Karin Castens : In fall, I will be sponsoring “My Princess Dream” which is a one day event for a select few little girls with life threatening illnesses. These girls are being taken to a castle, pampered in every way and then photographed in princess dresses. One of my signature designs is a small dragon – the Dragonling – and in my shop it is a basic philosophy that every girl of cause should have a dragon to take care of her. Therefore, each of these girls will receive a Dragonling necklace with a small booklet, created especially for the occasion, featuring a story of a small dragon, which befriends a princess.To me, contributing in such a hands-on way is by far more satisfying that “just” donating money, and I hope to be doing more of such work – for instance creating a piece of jewellery which will be sold in order to support the fight against cancer....
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, what positive experiences you had when you attend the a’ design award?
Karin Castens : My main reason for participating in the competition was to be able to prove, that the Two Forever design was truly mine. Shortly after having created it, I realized its popularity and considered having it patented. However, such a patent – especially if worldwide – is economically outside the reach of my small company. The A’Design Award was a good alternative.When I realized that the judges found my design medal-worthy, anticipation in the small workshop of cause grew and we put even more work into having good pictures taken, creating good descriptions of the design etc – something which we of cause have put to good use afterwards.Tomorrow we will create a new window display, using (amongst others) some of the items from the winners kit. We hope this will attract even more customers and convince them of the high quality of the design!...
Karin Castens Designs
Karin Castens, can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
Karin Castens : My workshop turned professional when the recession put me out of my communications job at a marketing company. I had worked at my own hobby workshop in the boiler room of our building for over a decade, but now decided to seize the day and make something out of an otherwise bad situation. In 2010 I opened the doors to a high-ceiling shop/workshop in central Copenhagen – right next to New Harbour and behind the Royal Theatre. Here the antique chandelier shines its light on the art nouveau swirls which divide the workshop from the shop proper and the jewellery glitters from vitrines built for antique, guilt picture frames. It is a lively place where my customers can follow the work first hand and admire the large anvil, which used to belong to my grandfather, the blacksmith....

Karin Castens, thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview you... To learn more about Karin Castens and check more designs by Karin Castens as well as to see more Karin Castens designs such as Two Forever visit
Karin Castens Designs
We hope you enjoyed our interview of Karin Castens. This interview was made possible by the contributions of A' Design Award and Competition - The World's largest and most influential design accolade. A' Design Award is an annual, international design award open to both concept stage and realized works by designers, artists, architects and brands worldwide. A' Design Award and Competition aims to create a public awareness and understanding of good design by promoting the best designers such as Karin Castens and their design works worldwide. Visit to learn more.

This article was added on Monday, 12th of November, 2018 at 07.15 am by author Frank Scott Tags: Karin Castens, Karin Castens Designs, Karin Castens Interview, Two Forever.. Read our copyright policy here.




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