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Heidi Vornan’s jewelry collection Hugo is homage to the beloved Finnish symbolist painter Hugo Simberg who’s seen as a national treasure in Finland. 

Simberg, a turn of the century artist, is especially known for his symbolistic paintings in mythological imagery. Humorous and gentle characters of devils, angels and death are roaming in his numerous paintings and graphics: The friendly and understanding Death is leading a peasant to the afterlife, or skating away with a baby in its arms or nurturing flowers gently in the garden of death. A poor devil is seeking help carrying his baby twins and wearing a scarf around his head because of a toothache - or battling with an angel of a man’s path in life. These paintings draw a glimpse of human life with its sorrows and burdens wrapped in the fascinating symbolism which makes one think of fairy tales.                                       

 Death On Skates

Death on Skates ; Death Skating, 1899


The Garden Of Death 

The Garden of Death, 1896


A fine parallel can be seen between Simberg’s works and Heidi Vornan’s memento mori jewelry. For Heidi, the Hugo collection is another step in the jewelry with the Death theme.

And just like memento mori is not just a phase in jewelry for Heidi Vornan, Simberg created throughout his fairly short life his symbolistic art though other movements started to take over the art scene from the start of 1900s. 


Post Festum

Post Festum, 1898


The Peasant and Death at the Gates of Heaven and Hell

The Peasant and Death at the Gates of Heaven and Hell, 1897

Heidi has always been drawn to these works of Hugo Simberg and after juggling several years with the idea and getting 2019 grants from Taike, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, it finally manifested in the Hugo collection which was launched in 2022 at The New York Fashion Week.

“Creating a jewelry collection is not a pure picnic,” says Heidi. “It’s not just designing but very much solving technical questions. In this particular case it took 1.5 years and three different makers to find the best laser for the inscription of the Hugo cufflinks. Of course, these things take time when designing this beside my usual commissioned works,” explains Heidi Vornan. Also the choice of material wasn’t so obvious. “I couldn’t use silver for the engraving in the collection because it gets tarnished easily but the more unusual platinum 600‰ was chosen as base for the engraving. And finally things settled in place and we achieved the clear and crisp result which are encapsulated under the rock crystal lenses.”Death On Skates ring

Mia Hillo

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Death, Mourning and Jewelry
Memento Mori

Death, Mourning and Jewelry

What is the idea of all these skulls and bones in Heidi Vornan's jewelry? The gloomy and dark esthetics of her jewelry bear a deeper meaning and can be described as memento mori jewelry.  The lat...

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