Born in 1993, Gerda Liudvinavičiūtė is part of Lithuania’s first post-Soviet generation. Yet, growing up in a block of Soviet-era flats, she realised just how much communist heritage was still present in her life — and formative to her identity. Puzzled by this dilemma and passionate about design, four years ago Liudvinavičiūtė founded a concrete architecture-inspired jewellery label: Celsius 273.
“It seems like I didn’t even choose concrete, but concrete chose me,” she told The Calvert Journal. The name of the brand, Celsius 273, comes from the coldest temperature (-273C) at which life ceases to exist. But for Liudvinavičiūtė, this is the perfect sterile condition to inspire the creation of “urban utopias”.
Her latest collection, BRUT (a) LIST | Ode to the Eastern European blocks, includes long, block-of-flat-like earrings, and massive pendants, echoing Khrushchev-era panel tower blocks. Her most explicitly socialist modernist architecture-inspired collection so far, it scooped second place in the Git’s World Jewelry Design Awards, as well as the top prize in the National Lithuanian Design Awards, Good Design 2020.
Liudvinavičiūtė describes her work as “wearable architecture”. “Our homes are shaping and influencing us way more than we can imagine,” she says. “People living in blocks of flats tend to feel isolated, but in reality, they are part of an invisible community.”
For Liudvinavičiūtė, this heritage raises one key question: “How common and how different can we be when we’re living in infinitely similar cemented squares?”
Through collabs with other creatives from her generation, such as photographer Anastasija Labekina, Liudvinavičiūtė plans to continue using her work as a platform to explore the tension between the continuing presence of the Soviet past, and a future that frees itself from this heritage.
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