Sunroom Q+A: Bibi Van Der Velden
"Jewelry is a very personal way of expressing yourself, of being different to everyone else. I like jewelry to be super personal, to speak without words, and bring you joy when you wear it." — Bibi Van Der Velden
Introducing Bibi van der Velden to the Sunroom fine jewelry family — an Amsterdam-based designer and sculptor who uses unexpected & sustainably-sourced materials to craft stunningly intricate, handcrafted pieces from 18k gold, diamonds, and rare gemstones.
At once personal, playful, and highly artistic — discover more about the collection below, and shop our selection online now.
You work a lot with unexpected materials and symbolic motifs. How do material constraints challenge you to be creative in different ways?
Challenges are there to inspire you, to push you to think or look further. I like to respect the materials I work with and enhance their uniqueness. I like to find beauty in the unexpected—to me that isn't a challenge, it's an inspiration.
What does your design process look like — where do you begin?
Ideas can come from anywhere - it’s how you catch them and bring them to life that I find exciting.
Creativity has no rules. Sometimes I start with a sketch, other times I might start with a beautiful piece of stone and discover the idea through sculpting.
When you are creating, you are always looking, always finding ideas or taking photos on your phone. Designing or creating is a way of life – it’s constant. Whether it’s the crashing waves or the curl of smoke once you have a spark of an idea it begins…
When did it feel clear to you that you wanted to pursue a path in jewelry making and design? Do you have any distinctive memories of first learning this was something you could "pursue"?
I always knew I was going to do something creative; my mother is a sculptor, and my earliest memories are in her studio. I studied fine art and sculpture, and what started as very academic became more conceptual. While I was at the Hague I started to take evening classes in jewelry and combination of this craftsmanship and precision mixed with the freedom and expression in my sculpting just made sense…
Sculpting has always been my destiny but sculpting jewelry and creating with these beautiful materials and stones my two passions combined.
What are some of your biggest inspirations in any medium? If artists, places, or ideas -- would love as specific as you are open to sharing on things that have been unexpected sources of inspiration for your process.
I love art and nature they would be my two main inspirations. I am always inspired by artists, all mediums, all eras, from fine art to sculpture, there’s no rules – I love people that think out of the box, have new ways of seeing, new ideas. I love traveling, reading, seeing new places and discovering the power of nature. I am inspired by so many things – I always say I am inspired by life.
What, if anything, has changed in your creative process and practice since establishing your studio in Amsterdam?
The people I have met, the clients that come to us with precious stones and stories, but also the people I have worked with as the business has grown.
When I started I was designing for myself – and now I design what inspires me.
You learn a lot when you have your own business, about yourself and your creative process. I think COVID changed a lot, but also made us appreciate things in a different way.
Song I'm playing right now on repeat (or artist/album): I grew up in Amsterdam during when the house scene erupted. I always feel drawn to that kind of music. I like all different types of music, like old fashion house music. Especially when I work. Mark knight and the funkagenda - man with the red face
When I need fresh inspiration, I go to...For me, nature is usually the start of my inspiration. All my collections are somehow connected to nature. But the good thing about inspiration is that you can find it around any corner.
Best meal of recent memory? (Either dining out or prepared at home) I moved to Portugal 4 years ago and I'm still discovering Lisbon. The other day I went to a small nondescript Italian that was recommended by a friend. The owner Michele, always cooks himself. It was one of the best Italian meals I have had in a long time.
My top suggestion for wellbeing and taking care of myself: Self love is something I've learned to incorporate more and more with getting older. Where as I used to maybe consider it indulgent, I now see that it's all part of keeping all the balls in the air. I start everyday with at least some yoga, I surf and connect with nature some times a week, and I take a massage a few times a month. Planted a big garden here in Portugal and I love having my hands in the earth and growing what we eat. I find this very regenerative.
Books on my nightstand:
I always read a few books at the same time. At the moment I'm reading Walk Through Walls from Marina Abramovic, the performance artist that I admire a lot and also recently got to know personally.
Food Rules - Michael Pollan. Carl Jung - Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Barbara Hepworth - Art & Life.
My ultimate travel escape:
My ultimate travel escape is Bangkok, where I have been during my production during the past 18 year. It feels like a home far away from home. The city has an amazing vibe where I love to explore. Usually i'm by myself and never once felt unsafe or threatened by the city.