LOKI PATERA: A Body of Water, A Body of Work

A glimpse behind the veil of Loki Patera’s newest collection

Harry Pickering and Hugo Vos, the creative directors of Australian jewelry brand Loki Patera, are above all else interested in connection: the disjointed or linear means of one entity finding another. Their pieces make a conscious attempt to make jewelry clasps and other functions, typically hidden, a dominant element of the design; in “A Chain in Four Stanzas”, for example, the closures are a striking aesthetic feature, allowing the chain to be adjusted and modified to the wearer’s liking. Their collection “...and then the water whispered”— released in April 2021—is inspired by water: water as a source of life, water as a pathway, water as an absence. Hugo and Harry undertook residencies at Adaminaby, just outside of Kosciuszko National Park, and Kangaloon in the Southern Highlands to understand water and its many nuances before coming up with any explicit designs, sketching and writing and reading Mary Oliver to draw from the natural landscape, and find their collection within it.


It’s unsurprising, then, that Loki Patera has an organic and instinctual origin story. Harry, a sculptural artist and designer, and Hugo, an architect, first collaborated on a cast seed pod necklace which they found while hiking on Bundjalung country in 2018. Friends first, their time together naturally veered towards creating and experimenting. “It was a logical progression from that,” Hugo says. “Creating jewelry that we weren’t seeing other people wearing was a big part of it for us.” Soon they were being sought out at clubs and parties by friends who were eager to purchase their only piece at the time, a barbed wire charm on a wheat chain necklace.

Loki Patera denotes an aesthetic intersection between the digital and the analogue: there is a slick, jagged look to both the designs and the models that feels very 2022, and in equal parts evokes the stark, natural lines of the ebbing and flowing Australian landscape. It’s an exciting contrast that is embedded in the many methods and processes Harry and Hugo bring to their craft. Harry calls attention to the cloud - lure ring from the new collection as a notable example. “We were inspired by all these different forms and cracks in the rocks that we found on the residency, these moments of decay. We designed this ring that’s like a little mountain peak that has a natural archway.”

They 3D-printed the ring’s design, and then applied an ancient engraving technique to it that is typically used in printmaking for copper etchings. “So we were decaying the design that we built in the software, and actually adding our hand touch,” Pickering says. “We took it out of the computer realm and gave it raw, unpredictable elements. You don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out like you do with the software.”


All creative paths have their learning curves, and Loki Patera’s new collection is a response to the knowledge Vos and Pickering have acquired along the way. The marketing for their previous collection, “A Quiver Calls”, felt a little prescriptive in hindsight. “We were very much telling people that, ‘This is what this jewelry piece is about. This is what it’s for.’ We’ve kind of stepped back from that,” Vos notes. Like water itself, “...and then the water whispered” is fluid and open to interpretation, leaving room for anyone who chooses to acquire a piece to cultivate their own relationship with it. “There are so many people out there that would have all these other ideas and responses that we could never imagine,” Pickering says.

This openness to ambiguity, and collaboration with unlikely sources, not only influenced the new collection but was the major driving force behind it. The residencies were Loki Patera’s customized research method, allowing them to gather data on their own terms and locate images and concepts to fuel the collection, rather than design the pieces first and justify their choices from there.


Even the residencies themselves assumed an unexpected shape: at first, Pickering and Vos planned to begin in a location that was a source of water, then move to a river, and end at the ocean as the final and almighty body of water, but their original intention didn’t sync with their experiences so far. “Once we got [to the ocean], we already had so much to base the collection off,” Vos says.

They had been particularly affected by their time in Adaminaby, an environment that was withering and fecund at once and—while close to Kosciuszko National Park where the rain gathers—located in the rain shadows, where none falls at all. The omission of water gave life to a different kind of beauty, barren and bonestrewn, that is evident in the collection just as much as the Kangaloon river is. “I think what this talks to is how water isn’t just about rivers and streams,” Vos says, “but a wider shaping of the landscape.”

Fluidity and connection culminate in the campaign for “...and when the water whispered”, both in the layout of the images and the people that were chosen to model the collection. Loki Patera cast two couples—Justin Shoulder and Matt Stegh, and Peace Chattiya and Honor Munro—who Vos and Pickering know personally. “I feel like a lot of campaigns and fashion editorials, and a lot of our society, is based around putting an individual on a pedestal, glamorising and glorifying individuation over connectedness,” Pickering observes. Both couples are queer-identifying, lending a different iteration of fluidity to the designs and shifting away from the binaries so often associated with modelling, and indeed nature at large.


The images of the collection as worn by Justin, Matt, Peace and Honor, are in conversation with photographs of the landscape that inspired it. The otolith earrings and locket are placed next to a hazy black-and-white body of water, loose leaves rupturing the ripples on the surface. A bolo tie is beside a cragged and speckled rock formation, nestled in a paddock of green and burnt orange flora. In some instances the models gesture towards the landscapes, leaning in, and in others, they look away from them. There’s a shared intimacy between person and environment: two breathing entities that are unequivocally distinct, yet tangibly bound by Loki Patera’s designs, forming a coherent throughline as if a small river was flowing across each page.

by Matilda Douglas Henry 

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