Genuine narrative and heart is what gives jewellery life. In an era of mass production, many are looking towards products with story and ethical values. Sisters, designers, and business partners, Josie and Jessica Fernando are doing exactly with their brand; KINSFOLK. “Caught in-between homesickness and a longing for distant shores” (Fernando, 2016), the two designers of Swiss and Sri Lankan descent merge their bicultural heritage into their designs.
Josie and Jessica Fernando | KINSFOLK
Raised in Switzerland, the sisters’ childhood summers were spent in Sri Lanka, where they connected with their father’s roots. They were exposed to the world of Sri Lankan handicrafts, which interested them greatly as children with an affinity to arts and design. Holding onto their fond memories of the batik workshops and jewellery stalls; KINSFOLK was born.
Making of Peacock Scarf | KINSFOLK
To be able to fuse to cultures is a tremendous craft in itself, and KINSFOLK finds the balance between the ethnic heritage aesthetic and the clean minimalism of modern Swiss design. Commenting on their brand, the sisters said, “The Sri Lankan flair flows in [our] veins and that is what makes [our] creations very special”. But more importantly, the brand has found ways to ethically produce the highest quality handcrafted jewellery in small Sri Lankan studios that ensures the artisans earn a sustainable living. This is a great step towards equal trade and ethical working conditions for offshore workers, as well as giving a platform for heritage techniques to stay alive.
“Our goal is to celebrate enduring design that inspires for a lifetime.”(Fernando, 2016)
Sri Lankan Craftsman | KINSFOLK
Josie and Jessica had to first build a strong relationship with their local craftsmen. The designers agreed that it was a learning curve for both parties, and through this process they were able to “reshape the boundaries of the possible and impossible”. Josie is particularly fond of their Batik master who gives great insight to the creation process. They personally see through the entire production line to ensure each piece upholds their values and quality.
Making of Moratuwa Cuff | KINSFOLK
Being made in Sri Lanka, the materials consist of semi-precious stones, gemstones, and metals. The gold-plated elements are then completed in Switzerland for that modern finish. The designers said; “For both jewelry and scarves the materials are carefully selected, rather for their natural and individual beauty than for clarity or perceived value”, showing how Josie and Jessica see the existing beauty in both their culture and its environment.
Although they do not have a specific research process, Josie and Jessica cite Sri Lanka’s environment as their inspiration, even from the initial designs. Their collection “Palmyrah” is “inspired by the art of weaving palm leaves to make baskets and mats in Sri Lanka, working with artisans to recreate this weave with thin strips of silver. The new batik scarf collection echoes the colours and shape of palm leaves.” KINSFOLK lives and breathes Sri Lankan nature.
Ultimately, it is the link between home and nature that brings people to KINSFOLK.
“We try to keep everything very personal, the relationship with our customers but also the design aspects of our products.” (Fernando, 2016).
With special thanks to Josie Fernando and Jessica Fernando for their artistic insight and personal comments.
Written by Sonia Wan
Edited by Christina Wright
Kinsfolk (2016) About [Online] Available at http://www.kinsfo.lk/about/[Accessed 12/04/16]
Kinsfolk (2016) Palmyrah Collection [Online] Available at http://www.kinsfo.lk/palmyrah/ [Accessed 12/04/16]
Kinsfolk (2016) Moratuwa Cuff [Online] Available at http://shop.kinsfo.lk/product/moratuwa-rose-quartz-cuff-bracelet-silver[Accessed 12/04/16]
Kinsfolk (2016) Peacock Scarf [Online] Available at http://shop.kinsfo.lk/product/batik-on-silk-scarf-peacock-200-x-100[Accessed 12/04/16]
Kinsfolk (2016) Foulard Scarf [Online] Available at http://shop.kinsfo.lk/product/batik-on-silk-foulard-black-cream-white-90-x-90[Accessed 12/04/16]
Kinsfolk (2016) 18K Gold Palmyrah Pendant [Online] Available at http://shop.kinsfo.lk/product/18k-gold-palmyrah-pendent [Accessed12/04/16]
Kinsfolk (2016) Nallur Green Onyx Earrings Silver [Online] Available at http://shop.kinsfo.lk/product/nallur-green-onyx-earrings-silver[Accessed12/04/16]
Kinsfolk (2016) Weligama Bracelet Gold [Online] Available at http://shop.kinsfo.lk/product/weligama-bracelet-gold [Accessed12/04/16]