Linda van Niekerk's, the founder of Linda +, has long been driven by her desire to create sculptural pieces that are bold, striking and deceptively simple.
Linda is recognised for her distinctive style characterised by bold sculptural forms, clean simple lines and the use of unusual materials. Born in South Africa and now based in the pristine Huon Valley in the south of Tasmania, Australia, Linda's work has a strong sense of both places. Her designs often reflect a contemporary African aesthetic and the ideas and materials used for her exhibition works demonstrate the strong influence of her natural environment.
Linda's work has been exhibited across Australia and in New York. She has been short-listed for several contemporary jewellery awards and in 2010 won the Tasmanian Design Award.
We asked Linda 3 Questions we were keen to hear her thoughts on:
1. Tell us about your designs and the process involved? How do your designs usually come about?
I design on a few different levels – some work is created specifically for exhibiting – either within a group where there is often a theme set by the curator or for a solo exhibition, where I determine the theme. Here the work evolves to capture the theme – some pieces are one-off and not repeatable, for example I have made several works featuring Tasmanian Wilderness driftwood – and as each piece of driftwood is unique, each work is therefore also unique.
I strive to have a solo exhibition at least once a year as I find this the best way to push myself to create new works and explore new directions.
Some pieces initially created for an exhibition can be repeated. If there is a strong response to the work, then these become a part of a limited edition signature range.
And some works are designed specifically with multiples in mind. They are created to be wearable, attractive and affordably priced and are often available in multiple colours.
However, irrespective of the initial reason for designing and developing the work, I feel that it is important that the designs have a strong and consistent signature; that the work has a timeless simplicity, is strong and easy to wear.
My desire is for the wearer to be bold, proud and walk tall.
2. How do you feel about the replica industry (in Australia) and how has it affected your designs?
It distresses me that the design world lacks integrity. However, it wasn’t that long ago that Australian ‘designers’ were guilty of simply visiting shows and stores in Europe and the US and copying the newest designs and calling it their own because the majority of the market in Australia was not exposed to the newest ideas. That is no longer possible.
I have been lucky enough to have one of my galleries decline a ‘new’ design because the work was felt to be too similar to mine. It is inevitable that similar ideas will turn up because of the vast followings on platforms like Pinterest. How do I feel about that? Resigned, I guess.
3. What are your hopes for the future of design in Australia?
That we figure out how to persuade the market to fund Australian design and innovation so our best and brightest do not have to take their creativity elsewhere.