Joao Vaz moved to Sydney from Portugal to study jewellery design in 2009. After graduating, the young designer decided to start afresh. “I felt that I had to go back and rescue all the ideas that I’d had and that I’d never explored,” says Vaz. “I went through all of my sketchbooks and every single drawing that I thought was good, I drew again schematically.”
The result is Dark Matter, the first collection from his eponymous label. “I often think of this collection as my visual outset, which will grow and develop with new collections and projects,” he explains.
Dark Matter is the scientific term for the effects caused by an invisible mass believed to make up 90 per cent of the universe. Fittingly, the range of geometric ornaments is earthy yet futuristic, with pieces that look as if they’ve been forged by a tribe on Mars. It’s a unique style that landed the collection a spot in Bianca Spender’s runway show at this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. “I would describe my work as being quite dense,” says Vaz. “I like all surfaces to be touching and that’s why the textures really come into play.” Vaz is interested in experimental methods and melds 3D printing with new techniques in acrylic tension setting and metalwork for Dark Matter. The collection also has a sustainable design focus, using cubic zirconium, which is synthesised in laboratories, as well as ethically produced metals.
Vaz’s influences include Björk, Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família and in a more abstract sense, the spectrum of human emotion. Quiet pieces suitable for everyday wear, and loud sculptural designs, are created to reflect different emotional states. “We go from being really quiet and wanting to hide under the sheets to being extroverted, jumping around and being crazy,” he says.