Karen Konzuk finds inspiration for her sleek, architectural accessories in the built world around us.

Designers of the Year 2009Only in the hands of an artist can rigid, man-made materials transform into something delicate, feminine and wearable. Karen Konzuk’s line of concrete and stainless steel jewellery is such a study in contrasts. Judge John Fluevog describes her work as “cold-cut hip;” Barbara Atkin loves how Konzuk “strays from the ordinary and experiments with unusual combinations of materials requiring technical proficiency and unconventional techniques.”A childhood visit to a Donald Judd exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario first captured her imagination. A degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design focused on precious metals, though soon after graduation Konzuk started experimenting with concrete and steel, “everyday materials incorporated into fine jewellery.”The Calgary designer has continued to innovate. She uses powder-coated stainless steel, used in outdoor furniture and household appliances, to achieve bright, bold hues like neon yellow and deep plum (above, top and bottom). She was inspired by Herzog & de Meuron’s architecture in creating her ornamental Eclipse collection (above, centre), on sale at MoMA in New York.This year, Konzuk sold her work at a Le Corbusier exhibit at the Barbican Art Gallery in London and provided custom cufflinks to New York and Los Angeles Paul Smith stores. Her new Set collection “will be architecturally influenced,” says Konzuk “but still fashion based. It’s a work in progress.” Spoken like a true artist.