With their Antwerp jewellery label Mass Lee, the Finnish Josefine Mass and the South Korean Dabin Lee bridge the gap between art and fashion. The inspiration for their artisanal creations comes mainly from both their cultures, nature and art history.
What makes you different from other designers?
Josefine: We studied jewellery design at the Academy in Antwerp. At that time, we created large sculptural works of art that were anything but wearable. We inject that kind of passion into our own brand. We want to make conceptual art more wearable, everyday and accessible to a wider audience. Our combination of Korean and Finnish styles is also quite unique. We do not know of any other brand that brings these two cultures together. Many of the manufacturing techniques and design ideas originate from our backgrounds.
Dabin: After two years of only jewellery, we’re now also creating art objects that tell a story. Our aim is to reach a higher segment and collaborate with galleries and art fairs. We don’t want to limit ourselves in our creativity, and it also makes sense on a business level.
What is the biggest challenge in your work?
Josefine: We’re jewellery designers, but not marketing experts. We make our creations from scratch and know the product inside and out. So we can communicate very well face-to-face with our customers in our boutique in Antwerp. But with social media and SEO (search engine optimisation – ed.), it’s a different story. You have to make connections around the world, and that’s sometimes very difficult to grasp from your own studio or shop.
Dabin: We want to grow internationally and we’re also dreaming of opening shops in Helsinki and Seoul, our hometowns.
How do you deal with sustainability and technology?
Josefine: Everything we create is made in Antwerp. We have the luxury of being located in such a central hub, and none of our production comes from more than five kilometres away. We get our silver from a metal refinery in Antwerp. We’re a little less concerned with technology. We prefer to highlight the manufacturing traditions and the skills that still exist, especially in Antwerp.