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Olga Noronha

The Portuguese designer and recent Cental Saint Martins graduate explains her latest projet, ‘Rejection/Attraction’

Despite various replicas featuring within her collection, Olga Noronha’s most recent creations are anything but unoriginal. Having followed a creative path in her own life, Olga’s medic parents have given the jewellery designer a reality with which she could marry her art. With a degree in jewellery design under her belt, the designer has honed her skills and continues to develop her fascination with contrasting objects in her latest collection, ‘Rejection/Attraction’.

An exploration into a world in which objects of use become objects of desire, the collection features replicas of surgical tools and silicone implants, untouched and unchanged, which are then transformed into intricate pieces of jewellery. With every intention of inducing confused reactions , the designer has reproduced these scientific objects with the purpose of creating an attraction to otherwise repulsive ornaments. We spoke to the designer about the inspiration behind a truly unique concept. 

Dazed Digital: Where did your interest in the relationship between the sturdy mechanics of design and the delicate anatomies of the human body come from?
Olga Noronha:
 It is about picking contrasting subjects and joining them in ways that would not be easy to imagine. Behind all my art pieces there is an idea. it’s a type of jewellery where the aesthetics is far from being the most important. I wish to contribute for people to understand the jewellery piece as not only a mere adornment. There is poetry and different types of moods behind the design methodology.

For this, I want these pieces to be appreciated in a different way from the ones exhibited on jewellery shop windows. with my pieces I try to explore different positions and to somehow try to emphasise or euphemize extensions of the body. Thus being, the act of wearing any of my pieces, whatever the size or value, is by itself a new way of thinking and showing ourselves. The body becomes as if a “showcase” that, instead of static, combines its movement with the implicit life of the art piece.

DD: How did the idea to use actual surgical/medical tools into your work first come about?
Olga Noronha: Both my parents are orthopedic surgeons, and even though I decided to follow an artistic career, I have always been in touch with medical and surgical matters. About one year ago I started properly observing the surgical gadgets and techniques and wondering about how to connect such distinctive subjects.

DD: What materials have you used in your current collection and why?
Olga Noronha: For this collection I used actual surgery tools and turned them into jewellery pieces by moving them from a scientific context to an artistic point of view, still keeping and reinterpreting its original function, and creating pieces that can be seen as “new- orthosis”. Built in actual prosthetic materials, enhancing body parts by expanding, compressing and emphasizing them. I have used both antique and new surgical tools and ortho-prosthetic materials, as well as conventional jewellery materials such as antique syringe needles, suture threads, bone staples, prosthetic materials, leather, perspex, gold and silver.

DD: Your most recent collection ‘conflict: rejection / attraction’ is striking and bold, was a strong reaction to your work something you consciously thought about achieving during your design process?
Olga Noronha: Conflict is an exploration of a merger between anatomy, medicine and jewel-like objects. the combined use of actual surgery tools and their replicas are transformed into jewellery pieces without being dissociated from their original function. My aim in this collection has always been to “evoke” unusual reactions and somehow try people to be “confused” about their sensation and feelings towards this collection. My intention was/is to turn the distasteful into the desirable, to switch the response from rejection to attraction. Just like in all the other collections and art pieces I developed, I wish people not to be apathetic towards my work, whatever the reaction – good or bad, I welcome doubts for they may lead to surprise.

DD: What is your favourite piece from the current collection and why?
Olga Noronha: It’s difficult for me to choose but I would probably go for the cervical collar. It is the most elegant and intricate piece of the collection and the silicon breast implant in the chin makes it incredibly comfortable and intriguingly good to touch.

DD: Are you working on any new collections/pieces and if so where can we buy them?
Olga Noronha: Meanwhile I am going to keep on developing this collection and turn it into an investigation project that will try to join bio-engineering and surgical science and practice in it, in order to explore the boundaries of the body and its capacity of being “re-designed”. Sporadically my collections will be presented/showcased in art and jewellery galleries. My work can also be seen in on-line artist directories on klimt02 and very soon at


Text by Anna Vitiello