29 February 2024

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Get to Know — Yona Kohen

05-12-2023style
Images courtesy of Yona Kohen

by Ellie Hay

Yona Kohen is an artist from Istanbul who makes jewellery that is an enchanting spectacle of her meticulous handcraft, creative expression, and raw sentimentality.

Her sensitivity to the objects we find – and keep – pours into her work. We spoke to Yona about the world that surrounds her creative flow, the art of collecting, comfort, rest, and solo bike rides.

Tell us about the process of collecting?

I like collecting little things that are beautiful, and decorating the spaces I occupy with them. My bedroom has arranged moments of things like antique keys and traditional silver jewelry, tiny ceramics and tiny drawings on the walls.  They feel like small gatherings that are comforting to look at and change the way I perceive the space.

How do you like to rest?

One of my favorite things is to have a long bike ride with music in my ears. I also love to walk for hours. Sometimes a midday nap is unavoidable for me, afterwards I feel guilty but so well rested, in a way that overnight sleep doesn’t always make you feel.

What do you listen to when you are making jewellery?

I go between things. Mostly it’s podcasts so it feels less lonely to be making something for hours solo at my desk. I don’t remember how I came upon it, but I’ve listened to all the episodes of this paranormal podcast called otherworld, which is making me think in new ways about the world and human consciousness. It’s fun even when I’m completely skeptical. I listen to music on NTS radio. I like to listen to whichever one of the two live shows I like more. Discostan, Pum Pum Power Hour with Lil C, Breakfast show with Zakia, The Tim and Barry Show, are amongst my many favourite.

Tell us about your influences?

I’m really influenced by traditional Turkish craftsmanship, whether it’s prisonwork style beading or silverware or embroidery, these arts are usually created by anonymous artists but are the most interesting for me to look at. Besides that there’s an endless list of artists that I’m continuously influenced by, I don’t think I can start counting them or name any particularly important one at the moment. Right now specifically I’m thinking about the paintings of my amazing friend Maria Fragoso who currently has her second solo show up in Manhattan!

"I love to see throughout my day – in whatever context – the coming together of different colours that I wouldn’t think of putting together myself. If it looks good but I hadn’t considered it before, I want to replicate my own version of that."

How do new pieces come to life?

I mostly design new pieces when I’ve been remaking a lot of my older pieces, and seeing moments of those over and over makes my brain come up with new iterations that I want to try out. It feels cyclical, I don’t usually think much about new pieces, but they come to me as a visual idea. I love to see throughout my day – in whatever context – the coming together of different colours that I wouldn’t think of putting together myself. If it looks good but I hadn’t considered it before, I want to replicate my own version of that.

yonakohen.com

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