Slawn and O Thongthai’s fine jewellery collaboration is wearable art
Featuring dick-eared bunnies, pearl necklaces and engraved signet rings, the duo’s new collection comprises of gallery-worthy objects to wear on the go.
Image courtesy of Slawn and O Thongthai.
Buying artworks is fab and all, but it’s pretty hard to flex your acquisitions on the go. Well, that was the case, at least, until the arrival of the stunning collaboration between Slawn – the artist known for his exuberant, large-scale graffiti paintings, and Supreme and Virgil Abloh collaborator– and buzzy jeweller du jour O Thongthai at Dover Street Market London this week.
Fusing their distinct aesthetics, the zany squiggled characters and hidden dicks that figure in Slawn’s rich visual universe – which the Lagos born, London based artist describes as “Adventure Time but African” – have been translated into fine jewellery pieces: silver signet rings, cubic zirconium studded earrings, and a cheeky riff on a classic pearl necklace.
More than your run of the mill jewellery capsule, each piece has been crafted with a meticulous attention-to-detail that elevates it to the status of a gallery-worthy object. To celebrate the launch of the capsule, we sat down with the pair to learn more about the story behind its creation.
How did you guys first meet?
O Thongthai: The first time that I met Slawn was when Metallic was throwing an event in warehouse. After that, I saw his artwork and really liked it, so I contacted him saying that I wanted to buy a piece, and we've been hanging out since then, right, Slawn?
Slawn: Yeah, exactly. O's super cool, and as soon as I met her it was just like, she's chill, I'm chill, and there was a real connection.
What do you find so interesting or inspiring about each other?
Slawn: Well, the thing is, I don't usually like jewellery, but when I saw O's stuff, I was converted. It just connected with me on a totally different level -- and that goes for her personality as well.
O Thongthai: The first time I saw Slawn’s art, I just though that it was so fun, colourful and really cheeky. The piece I got had a bunny on it, which I just found so cute! I also find it really interesting that he keeps it quite simple by just using three colours -- it kind of reminded me of Keith Haring, in a way.
Slawn, as someone who's never really been a fan of jewellery, how did you find the process of working with it?
Slawn: Well, when I work with people, it's about enjoying the person first, and then the work. So working with O was really fluid. We just discussed what we wanted to do and then did it. If things don't work like that -- if it's not a simple conversation that leads to an idea and the execution of it straight off that -- then it doesn't really need to happen. With O, it was just like, "Do you wanna put a rabbit with dick ears on this?" And she just said yeah. She gave me a lot of creative control, so that made it really smooth.
O Thongthai: Totally. I was originally like, “Let's do a rabbit!” -- I wanted to base it on the painting of his that I have, but it turned out to be a different rabbit with dick ears here. I thought it was really cool, though, as we could then play around with the term 'pearl necklace', which is why the main piece has the string of pearls coming out of the ears. It's a small thing, but it made it really fun, because it's not the sort of thing that my clients normally let me do. And it's just nice to work with a friend and push boundaries to do something that's different to what I've done before.
What do you hope people will take away from this collection?
O Thongthai: Well, I hope people like it to start with! I think it's cute and fun, and I like the idea of looking at jewellery as art as well. It's kind of expanding the aesthetic between art on canvas and jewellery. I kind of want people to think of it as a wearable art piece.
Slawn: Exactly, imagine a canvas on your finger. Or a canvas on your neck. That's literally what it is.