Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Jewellery Designer To Watch: Brianna Hallihan

When it comes to jewellery design, you know I'm all for unique, daring one-of-a-kind pieces. One designer to watch is Brianna Hallihan, the Melbourne-based creative mind behind mettle - Fair Trade. After years of working in fashion design both local and abroad, it was natural for Brianna to venture into jewellery/object design. With landing the title of 'WINNER' for the Fashion/Accessories category in the Melbourne Design Awards 2011 and being invited to showcase at the Mercedes Benz Fashion week MIAMI 2012, there is no doubt her career will be further filled with highlights. Recently, Brianna was selected as a Finalist in the Craft/Object Design category of Qantas Spirit Of Youth Awards (SOYA) 

For those who don't know much about SOYA, it is the leading grants program for emerging creatives across Australia. Last year SOYA attracted over 10,000 entries submitted by over 1600 young artists, designers, filmmakers, photographers and musicians. Amazing or what?! Some of the great things about SOYA is that it provides practical support in the form of an overseas trip, tickets to the hottest industry events, professional mentoring relationships with creative leaders like Marc Newson and Zimmermann, PLUS $5,000 in cash! Seriously, what more can a creative ask for!!?

I was lucky enough to conduct a Q&A with Brianna, where she reveals her creative roots, inspiration and ethos behind her latest collection, her most rewarding experience to date and what's in the pipeline for mettle - Fair Trade.

Have a squiz below:

When and how did you realise design was the path you wanted to go down? Was there anything in particular that triggered your creativity?
My mother worked in fashion design when she was younger and later moved into fine arts. So her influence in the household meant creativity was always encouraged and respected. I knew I wanted a career in design at about 14yo, I loved merging conceptual ideas into a finished product…it seemed magical to me that something that only existed in my mind could end up sitting in front of me as a finished piece.

Most of your work centrals on jewellery/object design. Have you ever wanted to explore fashion design at all?
Actually, my degree and post grad studies were all in fashion design and for the past 8 years I`ve been in woman`s wear design. So object design is the newest of the two. I think once you`re trained in design though, you can apply it to multiple fields quite easily.

Tell us about your latest collection and entry for the Qantas SOYA. What inspired the mettle - Fair Trade range?
I drew on inspiration from Luc Besson`s 1997 film ‘The Fifth Element’, the collection was influenced by themes surrounding the survival of humanity and the human form. Created using body casting techniques set against rigid geometric forms to symbolise the evolution of our past and the science of our future.

How does the mettle - Fair Trade range differ to what we see in the commercial market and up against other designer jewellery?
I`m aware that I can`t compete with fast fashion brands, so I really try to offer a directional range of unique pieces. I think the biggest difference between mettle and other designer brands is the heart that gets put into every piece. Everything is fair trade accredited, hand crafted and made from recycled materials within a small, not for profit, income generating and training project owned by it`s members.

Our whole ethos though is to create coveted pieces that would sell on their own merit, above and beyond the production methods we use.

You have worked abroad in Paris and London and not to mention undergone work placement at Alexander McQueen. What has been your most rewarding experience to date?
All of my past experiences have built the designer I am today – So it`s hard to pull out a single example…but I would have to say my current project is the most all round ‘rewarding’ experience because it gives me the chance to feel creatively fulfilled as well as socially connected to a bigger cause.

Marc Newson's first design ventures were in jewellery design. Was there any pieces or trends set by Newson that have influenced your work or come to appreciate?
I think the biggest affirmation from Marc`s work would be in his approach, he always continues to educate himself about his materials in order to push their boundaries and this is something I very much relate too.

What is your personal favourite piece from your collection and why?
The Saturn metal tube belt is beautiful on the body and marry`s well with current season trends in clothing. I would have to say it`s deceptive simplicity makes it a favourite of mine.

What is coming up for Brianna Hallihan? Is there anything to keep an eye out for?
You`ll have to stay tuned to find out! I have a few things happening over the next year I`m really excited about for mettle – fair trade and it`s expansion. We`ve just participated in Miami fashion week and are currently based in the states which has proven to be very beneficial.

If you were to describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?
A bonified dag

I hope you guys enjoy getting to know more about designers and their creative process. I love the story behind this range, mettle - Fair Trade and how it was inspired by the film 'The Fifth Element'. Each piece is fair trade accredited, limited edition and hand made using recycled bomb shell metal from the Khmer Rouge and Recycled Lucite. I can just imagine Leeloo wearing one of the bone cuffs and backbone necklace with her bandage-style costume. What do you say Milla?

For more updates on Brianna's work as well as stockists, head on over to her website

I hope everyone's week is trekking along fine! I currently have a bunch of blog posts up my sleeve, so be sure to drop by again soon!

x L


  1. Far out this is rad! She is super talented!
    I'm so jealous of people who grew up in a creative environment (a mother who does fashion design and fine arts... that would be an awesome household)
    The Lovelorn

  2. such beautiful jewellery! I love the rings - lola x

  3. Jewellery design shown in the picture is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing these beautiful designs.