The PICHULIK headquarters is a gallery, office and design space on the bustling corner of Harrington and Albertus streets in Cape Town. This first floor atelier is where PICHULIK’s beautiful timeless pieces are designed, produced and sold. The images featured here are all from the brand’s latest collection, Kokomo.
The mastermind of this brand is art school graduate Katherine Mary Pichulik, who founded it in 2013. Her passion for the narrativity of jewellery and the history that it holds, inspired her to play with different mediums and designs to create pieces that could be treasured forever.
According to Katherine, PICHULIK is inspired by the powerful and sacred nature of jewellery and how it connects continents, lineages and women. She told Twyg in an email that each piece is intentional, and that includes both the symbology of the design and the process and materials selected to make each piece. And, each collection is rooted in African traditions and inspired by folklore and mythology from across the globe. Pieces are inspired by stories of heroines from different cultures; creating jewellery that empowers the wearer by connecting with strong female protagonists.
“We focus on investing in our local industry, which includes at times risk, and additional expenses especially when we have a vertical business whereby we procure, design manufacture /handicraft and wholesale and retail in-house. Our atelier is special for this, as it reveals the integrated nature of what we do!” says Katherine who is the joint CEO and creative director.
PICHULIK releases two collections a year, with its most recent one called Kokomo. This collection moves away from the focus on folklore and is instead inspired by the fictional beach in catchy The Beach Boys 1980’s hit of the same name, Kokomo. It brings the blissful feeling of summer into the playful and nostalgic designs. After two years of pandemic living during which we’ve “grown accustomed to feelings of loss, grief and complexity” , Kokomo brings us promises of the opposite: “a summer, one of simple joy, physical freedom and human connection”.
In line with this theme, the new jewellery designs are both playful and sophisticated. In the press release, the colour palette is described as bold and lush, verdant greens and island blues, combined with hunter green and rust orange. “The Kokomo Collection is all about ‘playing’, encouraging Pichulik Women to mix and match different colours and styles to create a visual that is uniquely hers.”
The collection released earlier this year, called Circe, was based on the Greek goddess who was outcast because of her gender. The collection follows Circe’s journey, from banishment to finding her power and transforming her life. It is the story of awakening and self-discovery. The jewellery follows repetitive shapes and interlinking circles and the recurring theme of the knot to emphasise the power of connection and unity. Each piece in the collection carries its own story and ancient feminine wisdom.
The distinctive PICHULIK source material is rope, especially repurposed rope or by-products which are fashioned into new rope. Brass, precious stones and organic materials are also used to produce the distinct sculptural pieces. Some of the materials used change over time to embrace the imperfections and mercurial changes of life, following the Japanese tradition of ‘wabi-sabi’. This aesthetic form celebrates the imperfect, inconsistent and incomplete, countering the precision that exists in mass, machine-based production. Instead, each item, being hand-crafted, has its own flare.
PICHULIK’s storytelling jewellery is not all that sets it apart. Efforts towards sustainability are at the forefront of its vision. All of packaging is recyclable, and the team minimises waste by recycling and reusing misfits and offcuts. By making everything in their studio, the pieces are made in a slow and considered practice that honours the craftsmanship and art of the jewellery. A service is available to repair and rewrap pieces to keep the jewellery in its best condition.
However, sustainability doesn’t end in their store. Work extends to their community. By engaging with other businesses on the street and collaborating with women, PICHULIK focuses on a people-centred approach to sustainability. Women are employed and work is outsourced to women-owned small businesses to cultivate a self-reliant community of women. The flagship store in the East City of Cape Town, stimulates local economy, and while it does sell products in overseas markets, they work mostly with small boutiques to promote small businesses.
“The ethos of PICHULIK is storytelling that follows the seasons and rhymes of life,” says Tracey Chiappini-Young, joint CEO. “We want PICHULIK to be the piece and gift you give to your best friend, mother, sister or grandmother.”
Although the pandemic has put a lot of businesses on a standstill, PICHULIK has managed to adapt to our new dystopian reality. Crafters work in rotation at home and at the studio, allowing them the flexibility to care for their families and stay safe from the virus. Before the pandemic, PICHULIK depended on tourism and art gallery industries, having a small online presence. However, over the past two years, they’ve ramped up their online store allowing customers to buy from the comfort and safety of their homes.
PICHULIK hopes to grow its passionate loyal customer base globally while retaining its business module as a small boutique.
You can purchase Pichulik’s jewellery at their store or online. Be sure to follow them on Instagram to keep updated on their future endeavours. Below are a few examples from the new collection:
Photographer Michael Oliver Love @michaeloliverlove
Hair & Makeup Amori Birch @amoribirch
Models @icemodelscpt @andrea_goodman_j @daifrazier
Photographer Alix Rose Cowie @alixrosephoto
Hair & Makeup Amori Birch @amoribirch
Models bossmodelsa @faith_johnson @jadaandrews_
Photographer Justin Patrick @justinpatrickphotography
#promiseofsummer #pichuliksummer #pichulikkokomoss22