Kate Trouw

Product Photography Susan Castillo
Stacey Hunter
Studio & landscape images
Kate Trouw

With her new jewellery collection Pettycur, Kate Trouw combines hyper-real 3D airbrush techniques, iridescent colour palettes and porous textures to create free spirited, yet instantly wearable pieces.


Print of beach scape with mirror on top giving reflection. A pair of Kate Trouw earrings sit on top

The former architect draws on her training and practice in Moscow, Melbourne, the Netherlands and London to create striking jesmonite contemporary jewellery. The monumental scale of architecture is re-imagined by Trouw in a small Scottish coastal village where a daily swim in the North Sea has replaced her commute.

Kate Trouw discusses her practice and inspirations with Edinburgh based design curator Stacey Hunter.

The Pettycur photoshoot was shot by Susan Castillo and art directed by Stacey Hunter at a beach close to Trouw’s Kinghorn studio. Early morning photographs taken at low tide were brought back into the studio where Trouw’s physical pieces were shot in playfully styled still life arrangements, constructed collaboratively by designer, curator and photographer.


Stacey: This collection is so delightfully full of contradictions. Otherworldly yet organic; feminine with rugged edges; classic palettes layered to create a strikingly modern prismatic effect. What aspects of your environment or experiences have inspired it?

Kate: There are things from my immediate environment, both built and natural. My studio was originally an art deco cinema, built in the 1930s on the side of a cliff on the Fife coast, back when Kinghorn was a popular holiday destination. It overlooks the Forth and out to the North Sea and so I’m only a few steps away from a multitude of textures, materials, and subtle juxtaposition of colours in the sand, rocks and sky. The ever changing weather creates different lighting conditions and sometimes the sea is like glass.

Print of beach scape with mirror on top giving a reflection. A Kate Trouw necklace and pair of earrings sit on top

Shoreline Necklace
and Expanse Earrings


Coming from an architectural background where colour, pattern and decoration are, let’s just say, controversial, do you feel a sense of freedom in your jewellery practice?


Yes, I have had to fight against this ingrained attitude from architecture in order to freely explore colour and frivolity. I’ve always been drawn in two opposing directions – I love Tadao Ando and FAT architects, the work of Adele Brereton and Nikki Couppee. I’m searching for a mix of materiality and joy; maybe it’s joy in materiality?

An architectural education teaches you to really look at things – composition, materials, how things are put together, what feelings they evoke. I’ve always had an obsession with accidental patterns, or surfaces which have been modified by nature. The collaboration between a natural process, or object, and intentional design. When you work closely with a material and get to know its properties you can begin to understand how to bring an outside element into the process in a controlled way to add depth and intrigue.

Print of rock scape with Kate Trouw necklace on top


I’ve been to visit your amazing studio twice now, it’s somewhat unbelievable in scale and atmosphere. Can you tell me more about it and the history of the place that you design and prototype your work in?

Swell Earrings
Sponge Earrings with Tassels
in Jesmonite, natural sponge,
silk, acrylic, Sterling silver

For many years the building was used as a dancehall and an amusement arcade. It was derelict when artists Elizabeth Ogilvie and Robert Callender bought it in the 1980s and turned it into a studio and residence. I work alongside Liz and three other artists in a wonderful space with open views out to the sea.

I feel like I’m on a retreat or a residency whenever I’m there. Swimming in the sea every day is exhilarating, and I have everything I need – much needed solitude, adventure, and all the while immersed in nature.

It overheats in summer and is freezing in the winter, when the rain splats down on the roof you can hardly hear yourself think and sometimes you can barely open the door for the wind. But this is part of what makes it special and besides, other days we have all the doors open and you can smell the seaweed and hear kids and seagulls playing in the sun.

Print of beach scape with mirror on top giving a reflection. A pair of Kate Trouw earrings sit on top
Interior of Kate Trouw's studio with sun setting in background
Interior of Kate Trouw's studio


The change in scale going from architecture to jewellery seems significant – what precipitated such a shift in your practice?

Print of beach scape with mirror on top giving a reflection. A pair of earrings sit on top

Swell and Expanse

When I lived in London, I started going to a ceramics workshop at Hackney city farm where you could just drop in, with a few friends and a beer, and make whatever you wanted to. It was only once a week but pretty soon I was hooked and could think about nothing else. That initial workshop made me realise that I love working with my hands and designing on a smaller scale. Someone suggested polymer clay as a material which I could use at home. After that I began obsessively watching youtube videos to learn different techniques. This led to my first collection Spline and I have never looked back.

Print of beach scape with Kate Trouw earrings on top


It was really exciting to work on this partly outdoor, partly indoor photoshoot with you and photographer Susan Castillo. What made you decide to create a shoot that’s so memorable and ambitious?

One thing I do miss from working as an architect is being part of a team and the creativity which comes from bringing together different people. So this was partly just an excuse to work with creatives who I admire, and spend some time outside my studio! When I first showed you the collection, I knew that you immediately got it. Your first vision of an image combining a beach-scape with a heightened, high end studio look made so much sense to me.

I’ve worked with Susan before and I really love the slightly surreal, very poised images she creates. For this collection I wanted something that was anchored in something a bit more concrete, but still has a sense of hyper-reality or surrealism. Pairing you was, I think, an inspired choice. The initial photos Susan took at the beach were stunning and it all snowballed from there into images that are far cry from anything I could have produced myself.

Print of beach scape with pair of Kate Trouw earrings on top

Drift earrings
and Shoreline necklace

Print of beach scape with Kate Trouw necklace on top