My designs only consist of the necessary elements to achieve a goal. Interview with Lars Joosten, winner of the New Talent Audience Award 2021 by Klimt02

Interview  /  NewTalentsByKlimt02   Artists
Published: 31.03.2022
Lars Joosten Lars Joosten
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Lars Joosten. Brooch: Plastic polish kit not included, 2021. Acrylic, silver, steel, brass.. 4.5 x 2 x 10 cm. From series: Wear (Slijtage). Lars Joosten
Brooch: Plastic polish kit not included, 2021
Acrylic, silver, steel, brass.
4.5 x 2 x 10 cm
From series: Wear (Slijtage)
© By the author. Read Copyright.

In my work, I often try to solve technical problems in a way that hasn't been done yet or I look for alternatives for jewellery characteristics, such as closures or settings. My work often arises from how a piece of jewellery can be worn or typical actions to put on a piece of jewellery.
Congratulations on winning the New Talent Audience Award in 2021! Please tell us a bit about yourself and how did you get on the path to contemporary jewellery?
Thanks! For the congratulations, but also for the opportunities that you provide for young designers through this award. 
As a young teenager, I studied electromechanics. I value the techniques and knowledge that I gained, and they still influence my work, but back then I missed an artistic freedom. At 17 I went to art school, where I was introduced to all kinds of media, from installation to painting. One of the first assignments was to make a memory object. I devised a small system with which you can show photos on a film roll, sort of. The small device was operated manually, it had no electronics. To emphasize the personal experience of the displayed memories, I turned it into a brooch. To wear memories on one's own body seems more personal than an object or a sculpture. 

One year later, for my graduation project, I focused on recording communication networks between people, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional. One of my supervising teachers then introduced me to the field of contemporary jewellery to gain inspiration for my work and to show how jewellery artists give shape to content. He handed me a book about avant-garde jewellery art that opened a new world for me. In the end, my project consisted of paintings, drawings, collages, a sculpture, a video installation, and a series of brooches.

Study 7, brooch by Lars Joosten

I have always preferred to work three-dimensionally. Despite this, I was never sure which discipline I would choose to study in college as I love working with many of them. During my jury, I was advised to take a look at objects and jewellery, which I knew almost nothing about (except for the book that I mentioned earlier). Because jewellery design involves a variety of techniques, materials, and media it seemed like an interesting field of study that would contribute a lot to my development as an artist. After visiting several schools, PXL-MAD stood out to me because of its extensive program and interesting teachers.

Could you describe your daily routine when you were studying at PXL-MAD School of Arts?
Classes usually started at half-past eight, so getting up early was a must. I live in Lanaken, a Belgian village near Maastricht, and the bus journey took about one hour to PXL-MAD in Hasselt. I didn't really have a fixed schedule because I'm not a structured person. How I organise my day depends on what I feel like. At PXL-MAD, my schedule differed from day to day, so I did what suited me best at the moment. Except for the mandatory classes of course, which happened at the same time every week (although admittedly I sometimes skipped those and stayed in the workshop instead).

The Object & Jewellery workshops are open until 10 pm. I always liked working late. Then it was quieter and when you are tired, exhausted, and starving, you view your own work differently. Other students also worked late so there was a nice atmosphere. Once or twice a week we discussed the process of our work with our tutors. During these moments, our questions were answered, and tutors shared their insights and feedback. 

I am currently working on my master's degree at PXL-MAD. I have chosen to divide it into two years so that I can first focus on completing a few theory classes and doing my internship. I spend the rest of the week in the workshop where I work on my jewellery and enjoy my remaining time here at school.

What's local and universal in your work? 
In my work, I often try to solve technical problems in a way that hasn't been done yet or I look for alternatives for jewellery characteristics, such as closures or settings. My work often arises from how a piece of jewellery can be worn or typical actions to put on a piece of jewellery. Paradoxically, my solutions are not necessarily more functional than the obvious methods. Examples of this are "Expansion and shrinkage, 2019" in which I set stones by expanding and shrinking wooden rings, or the closure of the "Triggered by magnet, 2020" series that works through the opposites of a magnet. The reaction of people who see or use my pieces for the first time has always been a motivation to continue working like this. Through my work, I aim to encourage the viewer to reflect on how the piece was made or how it should be used or worn, creating an interesting interaction between the work and the viewer.

Lars Joosten. Rings: Expansion And Shrinkage, 2019. Wood, laminate, zirconia. 2.5 x 1 x 3 cm

My designs only consist of the necessary elements to achieve a goal. Besides in a few pieces, I don’t add decoration. The shape of the object almost always arises from its function. Therefore, how I design is often compared to the 'Form follows function' movement. However, I see one big difference: instead of striving for pure practical functionality, I deliberately take a creative detour, as I’ve mentioned before.

Tell us a moment, work, or thought from art history (including the most recent one) that impressed you and you think influenced your work?
Such a difficult question! There is not one clear source of inspiration, at least none that I can explain well. A lot of things trigger my curiosity and I often pay attention to details that other people don't notice or seem to care about. In my head, a mixture of all things arises from everything that I observe. I can be intrigued by a variety of things; from the way a lock mechanism works to the design of a backpack. Functional utensils in general attract my attention. Of course, I look at work by other artists and designers, but I prefer not to be too influenced by that. When a work is already "too finished" it reveals too much about which direction I can or cannot go. If you make a pair of earrings for example, and you look too much at other earrings, then I believe that you subconsciously create an image of what an earring should look like. On the other hand, you can also use that and consciously reject it. 

How important is networking for you in your professional practice and what are your preferred tools for this?
Once a piece is finished, I like to share the joy I have experienced from my work with other people. This is of course not possible without networking. Also, for the further growth of my career, it is of course important that I make a name and that as many people get to know my work. Nowadays I mainly do this by sharing photos on Instagram ( and discussing my work with people who don't know it yet.

After graduation, how is your career going so far? Do you have any news or plans to share with us? 
I recently worked as an intern at Bram Kerkhofs, a Belgian furniture designer. Currently, I am developing my own modular cabinet system and some other furniture and interior pieces. Jewellery also stays in the game, of course. I'm working on experimental earring systems and a brooch for the ‘Brussels Jewellery Week’ that I can't wait to finish and share with everyone. This academic year, I deliberately did not take up all the courses at PXL-MAD to be able to focus more on my artistic practice and to prepare myself for my second-year master's degree in object and jewellery. In addition, I experiment with ways of thinking that I have developed in recent years and I try to find out in which areas I want to challenge myself and my work in the coming year.

In the near future, I want to focus more on promoting my work by participating in exhibitions, competitions, and galleries. I don't pay enough attention to that at the moment and, of course, there is nothing more fun than seeing someone enjoy your work or wear it. I would also like to collaborate with other designers and brands. I always find it interesting and inspiring how multiple creative minds join forces and complement each other.