When Cape Town jeweller Githan Coopoo’s collection of clay earrings and rings were spotted on the runway at designer Rich Mnisi’s South Africa menswear week show, the fashion world took notice, and so did we.
The 22-year-old creative’s simplistic, sculpted jewellery is all made by hand and the abstract pieces feature elegant organic shapes crafted out of unexpected and innovative materials.
Earrings have always been a big deal for Coopoo, but unable to explain his love for them, he just puts it down to being a simple pleasure. His fascination with jewellery is a continuation of an obsession with brooches and pins in high school, and he thinks his Indian jeweller heritage has something to do with it.
For Rich Mnisi’s fashion show, Coopoo drew on the works of French abstract artist Jean Arp to create his pieces. He now finds inspiration in found objects, specifically pieces of cement or painted rubble – this harks back to a time when he would disinfect bits of discarded metal in Coca-Cola overnight and craft earrings from them. On a more conceptual level, he is also inspired by India, opulence and LGBTI culture.
When asked about his favourite material to work with, Coopoo’s answer is clay because it’s deeply universal and almost commonplace. ‘I love this paradox that exists with elevating an everyday or seemingly mundane material into something quite precious and rich,’ he says. By using clay, he is able to redefine why jewellery is considered precious, while also reminding people to be gentle because of its delicacy.
Githan Coopoo will continue to do commission work and private sales rather than developing his own brand as yet. Follow him on Instagram to view more of his beautiful pieces.