Parliament of Two

February 3rd 2011

Jewellery designers Mel and Vanessa met on the first day of university, and boy are we lucky they did. The inauspicious begin eventually sparkedParliament of Two, a lovely local range of nostalgic clip-ons. Through their delicate collection of brooches the girls explore their fascination with typography, old books and vintage medical science. They drink lots of tea and often talk about how much they like each other’s hair.

What is your earliest memory sparking an interest in design?

Vanessa: For me personally it was my dad that sparked my interest in design. He is very creative, I spent a great deal of time as a little person keeping him company in the shed, listening to the radio and making wearable things out of the scrap metal, wood and string.

Mel: My interested in art started from a young age. My parents are both very artistic and were very encouraging. Many Saturdays were spent at the Adelaide Botanical gardens sketching trees. I worked on my first Lino-cut at the age of eight, and I still remember the birthday I received my very own, grown up putty, eraser and stainless steel sharpener.

Did you study design?

Mel: We both studied jewellery design at the University of South Australia, which is where we met. We had a similar design aesthetic, and a shared love of trashy sci-fi, so we were bound to be beasties. Vanessa went onto study graphic design, which has been very useful in starting the business. We are both continually expanding our skill set in order to broaden the business and keep things interesting.

When did you join forces to form the Parliament of Two?

Vanessa: We have collaborated on various projects and exhibitions in the last few years and have spent many an evening drinking tea, eating BBQ shapes and taking about how great collaborating on a more permanent basis would be. It wasn’t until early last year that we decided to seriously look at launching Parliament of Two.

What inspired yourMedical Sciencecollection?

Vanessa: This was the first range we designed. We kinda liked the irony of wearing a body part. Hearts hold such symbolic value, stylized versions of hearts would have to be the most common symbol of adornment. I think we both enjoyed exploring the idea of a more literal less stylized version. We also really like the detail of the old lithograph medical drawings; they are so lovely in their own right. The rest of the range grew from there.

Is the human body beautiful or grotesque?

Vanessa: Beautiful (mostly). I think aesthetically our insides are a little confronting and grotesque to most but I think when we stop to think about it, we are all fascinated by the complexity of our inner workings. These strange squishy organ and channels of veins and arteries work in perfect rhythm to sustain our existence and that’s surely a beautiful thing.

Do you think that the world is divided between artistic and scientific people?

Mel: It feels that way sometimes but I don’t think it’s as black and white as that. There are people who both artistic and scientifically minded. Take Leonard Di Vinci, both artist and scientist, his inventions as well as his masterpieces were both successes in their own right.



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