Amanda Nogier has dabbled in many areas of the arts€”photography, welding, graphic design€”but jewellery design was never on her radar. That is, not until she decided to craft a selection of wearable concrete bling for a student-organized pop-up shop at the University of Alberta, where she was majoring in industrial design in 2014. That's when the emails started coming. €œPeople kept asking me about my jewellery: where they could find it, if I was going to make more of it,€ she recalls. €œAnd it grew organically from that.€

Now based in her hometown of Saskatoon, Nogier is the founder of Béton Brut (French for €œraw concrete€), a line of, in her words, €œminimal, modern€ concrete jewellery with a €œMemphis-y€ edge. More specifically, the pared-down shapes of her drop earrings, necklaces and double-finger rings are inspired primarily by Brutalism, an architectural style that was popular in the 1950s and €™60s and is characterized by its€”no coincidence here€”stark concrete constructions. Meanwhile, the colours€”vibrant teals, pinks and lilacs€”that are incorporated into Béton Brut's pieces take more closely after the Memphis Group, a design-and-architecture collective founded in the '80s that was known for its colourful post-modern works. The jewellery is made up of a lightweight mix of concrete that Nogier produces in small batches. She blends powder pigments into the mixes before pouring them into handmade moulds, resulting in marbled concrete forms that showcase a range of dreamy, at times ombré-like, hues.

Framed by 3D-printed brass or sterling silver, these highly durable, hand-polished pieces stand in for shimmering beads, metals or gemstones, highlighting the possibilities of a seemingly frigid, inflexible substance. €œI love that concrete is an everyday material that most people kind of overlook,€ notes Nogier. €œIt's really accessible in the sense that It's not super expensive. And, aesthetically, you can make it into such a beautiful thing.€

Such beautiful things include geometric studs and pendants, as well as larger statement items such as the Goldfinger, a striking double-finger ring inspired by €œoft-misunderstood€ architect Ernő Goldfinger, and the High Line series, a collection of necklaces commissioned by New York City's High Line Shop that uses obsidian- and jet-black-stone-infused concrete to mimic the material of its namesake park. And then there'sNogier's favourite piece, the Arch earrings, a pair of dangle earrings that feature slabs of concrete that have been designed to resemble grand 3D archways. The jewellery has a timeless, artful quality to it, one that's earned Béton Brut a spot in boutiques across Canada and the U.S., as well as at institutions like the Royal Alberta Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. €œI was really drawn to the jewellery's beautiful blend of perfect shapes and imperfect materials,€ says DOTY judge Danielle Wilmore, co-founder and designer at Vancouver-based jewellery brand Pyrrha. €œThe concrete designs make each piece one-of-a-kind, yet the finish is clean and modern.€

In recent years, Nogier has also extended her concrete expertise to the world of home decor, producing small planters and vessels and collaborating with Edmonton-based companies Libertine Fragrances (on a candle) and Birch and Grey (on furniture pieces). However, there'sa certain thrill that Nogier finds in jewellery making that's sure to keep the designer in the field for years to come. €œEvery time I pull a piece out of a mould and polish it, It's a different experience,€ she says. €œI love the excitement of constantly being able to create something new.€

Q&A with Amanda Nogier

you've organizing a designer dinner party: which three designers, dead or alive, would you want there?

I'm going to have to go with all dead designers because I feel like I still might be able to meet the alive ones that I admire most one day. Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Memphis Group; Marcel Breuer, a well-known Brutalist architect and student of the Bauhaus; and Aino Aalto, a Finnish designer who was my first female design idol.

What's your dream project?

I would absolutely love to design facades and large public installations in my style of brightly coloured concrete. But I think the industrial designer in me really wants to design public furniture and spaces for interaction€”not necessarily in concrete. I€™ve always been incredibly interested in sociology and the way people interact with their surroundings, so I€™d like to be able to use more of those ideas in the future.

Who do you admire most as a designer?

Stefan Sagmeister. I forget how I learned about him, but it was back before I chose design as a career. He made me think€”what do I love enough in this world that I would carve my skin to make a point? In other words, what do I want to do so badly that it doesn't matter
how hard it is, because I would endure it regardless? He has always been a bit of a controversial designer, constantly pushing the boundaries, which is why I love him so much. I€™ve always been really bad at following rules and answering to authority, which often caused difficulties with my professors to the point where I was threatened to be expelled from design school, until my professor sat down with me and learned a little more about where I was coming from. Reading and learning about Sagmeister makes me feel like It's worth being myself, and to keep pushing on.