December 8, 2010


If I were to describe my perfect job it’d go something like this: travel the world, meet interesting people, have adventures, be creative, make a living doing it all.
Having just come across Diederik Verbakel (one half of design duo *DIED*) it looks like he’s beaten me to the punch.

Globetrotting designers Diederik and partner, Marieke Holthuis, make a point of researching artisan traditions around the world then feed their findings into a recently launched jewellery and fashion line. Here’s what Netherlands-based Diederik had to say about his enviable lifestyle:

How do you find the artisans you work with, and what interesting techniques did you encounter?
We asked around in different shops where we could find craftspeople, which lead to a fun search that took us to different little factories. We found out how to cast and make different elements, and what kind of processes you can use on the jewellery pieces. Partly oxidizing the jewellery was something that was fun to elaborate on. Also gold plating, which you can do in various ways. We would think about a technique and what to do with it to make it new...

Are certain styles associated with specific countries?
We discovered along the way that Brazil is famous for it's semi-precious stones, Indonesia for its hand-crafted jewellery, India for the mix of metals. There is still a lot to discover and to play around with. They all have their speciality...and all is interesting.

Are your collections created in situ, or when you return to the Netherlands?
We do make some sketches beforehand but mainly we work on the spot. That way the artisans understand better what kind of things we like and we have a closer relationship. This leads sometimes to hilarious situations where the men we work with are wearing our necklaces as test/show indeed...

How many jewellery collections have you created as *DIED*?
So far we have one complete collection, Black As Night, which stores can now order. We made another two collections of unique pieces (in Brazil and Argentina), which we called ‘travel-collections’. These are still available to two stores: One in Amsterdam and one in Osaka, Japan.

Your blog is full of photos bursting with exuberant colours from your travels yet your work has a very pared down palette. Why is that?

We decided on a very strong and coherent theme for our first collection. And the dark night of all of these countries was something that we saw particularly strong as a concept. That does not mean we might explore colour theme next season....

What inspired the Black As Night collection?

It’s based on the idea of black in all its forms. Oxidized black silver, black crystal glass and black dip-dyed clothing and scarves. The collection consists of 26 pieces of jewellery and 7 dresses and 7 scarves.

Which materials do you favour?

Sterling silver and partly gold plated and semi-precious gemstones...

Where’s next on your travels?

Japan! We will present the Black As Night collection in Tokyo during the fair in February.

Men and jewellery. Discuss…
I love to wear jewellery and I'm a man, but it's always just necklaces. My fingers are too fine so I look like a woman with wearing rings.
But, within 3 years we will also be launching a male line since all our male friends are buying our pieces already.

Black As Night

Argentum Di Argentina

Charms Do Brazil

Photos: Joy Datta


  1. What a great post! And what a great job. Soo jealous. ;)

  2. Ooh, thanks jewellerywhore (great name btw) loving your work too! Here's to jobs we love...