Growing up, iloni Jewellery founder Madri van Zyl always had an eye and passion for creating beautiful things. School holidays were spent experimenting with designing and making her own beaded jewellery. This took her directly to a Contemporary Jewellery Design degree at Stellenbosch University. Here she spent 4 years honing her skills in traditional jewellery-making techniques and developing her unique contemporary jewellery style. The emphasis was on creating conceptual pieces driven by a love for art and a desire for individual expression.
The result today is wonderfully uncomplicated, yet bold jewellery that fuses non-traditional materials like silicon and rubber with brass to create unique pieces that make a notable style statement.
FOUNDING ILONI JEWELLERY
Madri’s time at Stellenbosch cultivated a strong sense of independence and individuality. There was constant encouragement to find and develop her own style as a designer. This nurtured a desire for the freedom to be able to “play” with and evolve new, uniquely “Madri” design concepts. Madri realised she could only enjoy this freedom by creating her own contemporary jewellery brand. And so in 2015, freshly graduated, she founded iloni Jewellery.
Meaning “My Joy” in Finnish, iloni is not only a reflection of Madri’s own experience in creating the pieces, but also of how she wants her customers to experience her jewellery. “I want the wearer to experience a feeling of joy when they wear iloni by having the freedom to express their own uniqueness and individuality.”
Making the Design Indaba’s MBOISA Top 100
In 2016 Madri was part of the Design Indaba‘s annual “Emerging Creatives Class“. The Design Indaba Emerging Creatives programme is presented in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture. It provides support, education and mentoring to South Africa’s future designers. This programme has helped launch the careers of internationally celebrated local designers such as Laduma Ngxokolo, Thebe Magugu, and Renée Rossouw. (Renée Rossouw collaborated with another Equilibrio featured brand, Romaria, on the print design of their fabulous Pacgirl collection.)
Each year, the Design Indaba also hosts a competition to find the Most Beautiful Object In South Africa (MBOISA). Madri’s iloni Jewellery “Pieces” neckpiece, now discontinued, made the Top 100 list.
The Design Indaba programme and platform proved valuable to Madri. “I believe this was the platform where I showcased the bold rubber and brass pieces for the first time. The collection received such a positive response that I decided to develop the range even further. I received some critique too. This helped guide me in fine tuning the pieces.”
This was the foundation for the iconic MIST collection now featured on Equilibrio, and which has become immediately recognisable as an iloni Jewellery design.
Since 2015, Madri has steadily grown her brand and business and now has two women who work with her, both of whom studied jewellery design at Stellenbosch. Together, this talented team are responsible for creating the beautiful iloni Jewellery pieces we now have the pleasure of enjoying and sharing with our audience.
A QUICK Q&A WITH ILONI JEWELLERY FOUNDER, MADRI VAN ZYL
What is your earliest, most enduring fashion/jewellery memory?
I recall begging my mom to choose her outfit in the mornings, I even wanted to choose what jewellery she should wear!
What inspires you when creating a new collection or piece?
Abstract sculptures, architecture, furniture design and of course nature. I play a lot in the studio, some designs just ‘happen’ by playing.
What is YOUR favourite piece in your collections to date?
I like the Double Original neck piece, everyone looks fabulous when wearing it. It’s a bold statement piece.
What’s a typical day like and what’s your favourite part of what you do?
I divide my days into admin mornings and studio afternoons. Studio time is of course my favourite. This is when I will design and plan new ranges, work on a custom design piece or help with production of the everyday jewellery ranges.
What has been the biggest challenge to you in building a South African contemporary jewellery brand?
The . No other contemporary jewellery companies have internships available where I could learn from. In the same breath, there were platforms such as Design Indaba and the CCDI (now the Design institute) that gave me a lot of guidance.
What advice would you give to aspiring jewellery designers?
Show your work, some people will not like it, others will LOVE it. Be authentic.
Are there any exciting plans afoot for iloni Jewellery?
Yes! I’m adding high end pieces into the Iloni Jewellery brand and am developing a series of modern contemporary engagement rings that I hope to launch in 2021.
SHOP ILONI JEWELLERY ON EQUILIBRIO
As an enormous fan of this local jewellery design talent, Equilibrio is delighted to welcome iloni Jewellery to our online family. These statement pieces are an easy way to add individual style and polish to any outfit from loungewear to eveningwear.
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