Ostra-Berdo is less of a designer name and more of a magic brace. Inspired by the juxtaposition of minimalism, nature and geometry, this ever-involving line launched in 2012 reconstructs the discipline of the self in an organic and antithetic manner. Inspired by the way the internet functions as a time machine as well as by places with a special significance to their personal histories, art director Wanda Hutira and her interior designer mother, Adela, reboot pieces of material that are devoid of utility in the eyes of many.
Your parents come from industrial and ambient design backgrounds, while you’re into graphic design. How did the switch towards jewelry design happen?
I really wonder how did we come about doing jewelry just now. We pretty much did everything but this. As a teenager I would never find the accessories I wanted in shops, so I made adjustments. When I wore them, friends were often making requests for similar things. I don’t have much time for that anymore. Yet last year, while I was visiting my parents in Baia-Mare, my mom and I sat around talking about jewelry and ended up doing sketches and researching blogs and online shops. She was very comfortable with the direction I wanted to take because it reflected her youth. Then I thought we’d both forget about it, but by the next time I returned home she’d already made some mock-ups out of straws, that later became the brass triangle necklaces. The copper oxide was a pleasant discovery, as we don’t usually appreciate yellow metals. The turqoise combination give them an art nouveau feel though. It also inspires me to think of a link between Australia and California, a very clean, urban and conceptual surf style, like a witch-fairy spell.
The Ostra-Berdo name sounds like a spell, as well. Where does it come from?
Ostra and Berdo are actually two mountains neighboring Baia-Mare. There’s a lake between them, a really beautiful scenery. Trips I used to take there with my parents as a child gave the theme of several consecutive summers. It was a kind of a second home for us. I like how places near home have these really pleasant sonorities, that are both simple and cryptic. They could belong to any language, but are very local at the same time. On the other hand, that’s the main characteristic of our jewelry line. It’s so simple we could say they’re inspired by the Celtic or Aztec cultures, or by the traditional Maramureș gates, or runes. Even triangles bare a different meaning to each and everyone of us, but maintain a common ground in all visual cultures. Plus they make you think of at least one mountain.
Is there a certain mythology behind your products?
I strongly believe that when we talk about jewelry we relate to a personal mythology. Thus, buying a story is not something compulsory. It’s all about the stories you live through. Perhaps accessories give you a certain energy when you first see them, or trigger certain feelings that lead to the buying choice. But when somebody tells you a story so you that buy would a product it’s not the same as when you imprint it. It’s just like love at first sight, a very personal relationship. For us each piece has a story of its own, and we have those published onto our website, but those could be just as well created by our clients.
What inspires you when creating new pieces of jewelry?
Everything around me. Life. Each thing that lays in front of my eyes, or that happens to me can be a spark for a whole new collection. One could succomb into art catalogues and antique structures, or get an idea even starting from the plastic straws that just lay there in drinks. Or the small pieces of wood that scratch your feet when walking on the beach. If you’re open-minded enough, any simplified thought can become a piece of jewelry. Unfortunately there’s so many things that inspire in comparison to the available time to turn them into a reality.
What sort of techniques and materials do you use?
We barely process elements, and we do it with more know-how than hard work. We try not to interfere unnaturally upon the materials, and keep everything as close to what it is as possible. As natural as the turqoise of the copper oxide. If it weren’t like that it wouldn’t even be so pleasant to the eye.
In which context do you position yourselves?
While the international market offers everything that you could ever wish for, the local scene is dominated by mainstream shops, that follow the trends religiously, but care little about the execution. There are also local entrepreneurs that put good soul into what they do. They really give their best, although I rekkon most of them don’t fit my taste. Then we got the established designers, whose pieces have such a strong character that they’re hard to mix. When we were looking for a direction, we didn’t conceive them as a work of art. We made them for people who go out to parties, who don’t care much about a lost bracelet or a crooked necklace. We felt this lacking – something wearable, that’s not just everywhere, something that can be special, indie as opposed to mainstream, but easy to match with just about anything.
Do you think there’s competition in the jewelry design department in Romania?
Yeah, but I don’t know just how much of it build a thriving market. Clearly, there is competition, there are people who struggle to be at their best. But just how real is that? Everything is split like a cake. There is dough and there is some cream. There are some that position themselves very high from the beginning, others that do so very low – although, judging by the quality of their work and concepts they could position themselves higher. This is what I consider a bit skizo, the Romanian medium is not built in a very punctilitious, hyerarchical way, so everyone knows where they stand. Though I don’t happen to say this oftenly, I consider the middle ground most reasonable – it’s the only way to earn some, enjoy some, and still not live in an utopia. Romania misses the hard work. And coherence. Those who kept on doing their thing for a longer while have raised up to the international standards. But many branch out to other directions, set aside what they were initially doing, and when they return to it it’s all noticeable in terms of quality.
Where would you aim to land?
On Saturn. I’m only kidding. I don’t know if we should land this brand somewhere, or whether it should be done by those who wear it. It could certainly end up everywhere, in the most awkward of places. We asked those who discovered us from the beginning to send us pictures. So the Ostra-Berdo accessories have already been to Croatia, Greece, Spain, London and are probably travelling somewhere around the globe as we speak. This is how I think they should reach a far away place. It’s them, not us. It’s not like we should land on the Moon, near the U.S. flag. But I’m only kidding, again.