Dimitra Nikolakopoulou
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Meet Gabriela Kurcharska – from the Foundation Programme to first design apprentice

Gabriela Kucharska chose to study at the Goldsmiths' Centre to explore her interest in jewellery design. Knowing that the Goldsmiths' Centre did not offer any design apprenticeships at the time, she says 'I tried to be really interested in design, but because I knew they did not have any design apprentices previously, I thought I should be interested in something else'. Our team helped Gabriela find an apprenticeship as a designer at Cleave & Company Ltd which was what she really wanted. She is their first design apprentice and started working as an apprentice jewellery designer 6 months ago. Gabriela says, 'They found me a place and it was really exciting. It’s really crazy that I am actually the first one'.

When did you realise you wanted to be a jewellery designer?

I never knew I wanted to be a jewellery designer. It was just when my previous school gave me the opportunity to study jewellery for GCSE that my interest in the area was sparked.

Where do you find inspiration?

From different places such as the internet, magazines, photos. When I travel I take a little booklet with me and if I see something of interest I sketch. It can be anything, like a window, a building, a bird, an animal. It might not be used immediately, but I return to it after a few days or weeks and it gives me more ideas and inspiration.

Is there a module that you particularly enjoyed while you were studying here at the Goldsmiths’ Centre?

When I first came here, I did not realise there would be so many aspects to this Foundation course. I did not know that I would be doing enamelling, engraving and silversmithing for example. I really enjoyed the engraving and silversmithing, and also design. I tried to be really interested in design, but because I knew they did not have any design apprentices before, I thought I should be interested in something else. I really did enjoy every single bit of it. Finally, I turned out to get an apprenticeship in design so it’s really nice.

I've always enjoyed more creative subjects like art and design

Gabriela Kurcharska, Jewellery Design Apprentice

Are there any skills that you’ve learnt that helped you secure an apprenticeship?

Yes, I think - even though I did not particularly like mounting – that helped me because now when I am designing something I think of how to make it and if it’s possible to design it. Like for example if I go and do architecture at university, I would not be able to build it first and then go to learn the theory. I think it's good that I first learnt how to make the jewellery and then design it, I think it really did help me.

Can you share a memory from the year you spent here at the Goldsmiths’ Centre?

I think the best memory was when I found that I got a gold award from the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council for my piece of work, which I did not expect, but that was a really good achievement.

What’s the most important aspect of your job?

I have only been doing it for 6 months, but I think keeping time and to deadlines. This is because sometimes we get a brief to get something done within one week, and sometimes customers can be really fussy about what they want and for a designer it is kind of difficult to meet the customers’ needs properly so that they are happy at the end of the day.

Design depends a lot on creativity and inspiration. Is there anything in particular that you do to make sure that you meet the deadline?

I do a lot of research because I work for a company where we do stuff for different countries as well and it needs to be right. For example you can’t get the colours of the flag of the country wrong. So I do a lot of research first before I get on to designing something.

How do you feel that you are the first ever design apprentice? Was it easy to find an apprenticeship?

It was really hard at the beginning. I did not really know what to do, because as I said before, they did not have any design apprenticeships. So I thought after the Foundation Programme that I could go to university and study interior design or architecture and be able to still draw and design. They found me a place and it was really exciting and it’s really crazy that I am actually the first one. I think I have to make a good start for other people to become jewellery designers because it's a really nice and interesting job to do in the future.

Did the Centre help you find an apprenticeship or guide you?

Yes, it was the Centre that helped me to get the apprenticeship. It was a dream come true for me. I mean, I did have work experience before doing silversmithing, but I did not feel that this is it. I also think that the award I won helped a little bit.