Plastic bags transformed into a jewellery line: meet the young designer Sabina Dragusanu

October 7th, 2020 / by / in: Dazzling stories / No responses

#sustainability is not just an overused word. For some designers, sustainability means taking one the biggest enemy of our oceans – the plastic bags – and convert it into something wearable and nice – a line of cute jewellery. That is all about in Sabina Dragusanu latest jewellery collection – Neighbourhood Links (a collection selected for @venicedesignweek). 

“When lockdown came along, coincidentally, it was also the time when I ran out of plastic bags! With the help of my local community website, I started to ask my neighbours and I was pleasantly surprises to see people responding so positively to my request of taking away their bag of bags – I think we are all familiar with)”, says the artist. Sabina Dragusanu is not at her first up-cycled collection – she put together seashells and plastic – a collection that entered in the final selection of 32 international artists for Arte y Joya Yearbook. Now she crocheted some earrings, necklaces and brooches from up-cycled plastic bags, powder coated brass and sterling silver. 

Sabina Dragusanu jewellery can be found on… 
… my website (
www.sabina-dragusanu.com)
Klimt02 (
https://klimt02.net/jewellers/sabina-dragusanu)
Not Just A Label (
https://www.notjustalabel.com/sabina-dragusanu) and of course Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sabinadragusanujewellery) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sabinadragusanujewellery)

Recycled materials for my jewellery because…

… time is running out. Many people are still not aware of the impact our everyday choices have on the environment, and I was one of them. Once you start to think about it, you realise that even the smallest changes to your lifestyle can make a big impact on our future.

My first love story with the fashion world was… 

… learning how to use a sewing machine from my mom. Growing up around my mother’s atelier has definitely had a big influence on my artistic development. Surprisingly, maybe, I did not end up being a fashion designer like her, but chose my own path as an art jewellery designer instead.

My latest collection Neighbourhood Links is about… 

… people coming together. Having created this collection exclusively during the COVID-19 lockdown (in London), I wanted to find a way of expressing what was going on around me. Even though shops were empty and everyone was scared of the unknown, people were still willing to help one another, offering to go shopping or donating food to the most vulnerable, keeping a distance and following the regulations. Even answering my request of ‘donating’ their empty plastic bags was met, despite having not been a priority during those times.

A battle between England and Romania in a jewellery field would look like…

… a friendly conversation about being less judgmental and caring less about people’s opinions. The biggest difference that I’ve noticed as soon as I moved to London over 6 years ago was the fact that people don’t stare or judge you when you walk down the street. When I lived in Romania, I always cared about what people thought about me, I was reluctant to wear something a bit more different, and while there are exceptions, I always felt people were looking at me like I didn’t belong. Things might have changed slightly since then, but in big cities, and definitely in London, you can be yourself and no one gives a sh*t (this is definitely not the case for the whole of the UK). Therefore, people are more open to buying and wearing contemporary jewellery, or clothes, and the customers are leaning towards buying from small independent brands.

If I have infinite resources, my jewellery line would look like…

… it does now. I am more interested in materials that are sustainable rather than expensive, and also ones that help me send a message. I do not like using expensive materials for the sake of it, or because that’s what is expected of jewellery traditionally. Being passionate about a concept and sending a powerful message with the use of the right resources is something that I find way more valuable.

The icon jewellery piece of all times, for me, is… 

… hard to choose. I like many jewellery artists, but I don’t think I have found one singular piece that I can call ‘the one’.

The impossible challenge for a young designer nowadays is… 

… to convince people to make the change toward a more sustainable-orientated industry. I don’t actually believe it’s impossible, but definitely hard to achieve, because in this day and age of fast-food, fast-fashion, fast-everything, not many are willing to stop and take a step back from this fast moving world, and make a change. And those who are, have to deal with the many who don’t.

The next project will be about… 

… probably the same concept. Until a more pressing issue comes along, I will most likely keep on working with plastic bags, especially now that I have quite a big stash. It’s a materials that unfortunately won’t disappear anytime soon, so I would rather keep researching all the possibilities of using it and turning it into wearable products rather than having landfills and oceans full of plastic.

About Sabina Dragusanu you need to know… 

…that I  find it quite hard to make a commercial jewellery line. I’ve worked for other designers in the past and I was able to create a commercial line for them, it’s easier when it’s for someone else. But when it comes to my own work, I feel that there are so many designers out there that I need to bring something different to the table and, honestly, I find it quite boring to do the same thing over and over again. That’s why, even the more wearable, commercial pieces I make are one-offs.

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