Handcrafted and unique? Experimental knitted accessories and standout textured pieces with attention to detail? Complex designs that remind you of contemporary art? You name it, that’s what the Elenii brand is about, in a nutshell.
Melbourne born and raised, Helen Noulas knew she was seriously passionate about design at a very young age. While still in high school, she would spend her spare time designing and handcrafting jewellery pieces that were sold at her school’s backyard “small business” – as she calls it – with fellow students as customers.
It was at RMIT University that Helen pursued her love for knitted jewellery, where she majored in a Diploma of Textile Design and Development.
No one in her family, Helen tells Neos Kosmos, is involved in the design and fashion industry. It was, however, her mother who Helen inherited her creativity and designing talent from.
Following the completion of her diploma, and driven with a desire to create her own label, Helen wasn’t interested in starting her career anywhere else – but in a small studio she set up at home.
“After university, I knew I wanted to make my own pieces, my own label. I set up my studio at home. It just sort of came to me – I love knitwork, but I prefer to make jewellery. I incorporated the knitwear skills I learned at uni into my neck pieces and bracelets,” 25-year-old Helen tells Neos Kosmos.
Soon after the first pieces were created at Helen’s drawing board, the Greek-named Elenii brand was launched, showcasing Helen Noulas’ own knitwear jewellery range – neckpieces, bracelets, headpieces and body jewellery. Incorporating elements such as texture and geometrical forms, and materials like cotton, wool and metal, Helen’s work is often characterised as unique and unseen before. Her attention to detail and an unusual combination of knitwork and stainless steel shapes creates an impression of contemporary art. And that’s what Helen’s designs are – wearable pieces of art rather than just simple jewellery.
“That’s what I really wanted to achieve. The only way I’m going to stand out in the crowd is by being unique and different – nothing too crazy, but something that people are going to stop by and say ‘Wow!’.”
Every piece of jewellery is a story in itself. Design wise, it may take the upcoming designer a whole day to envisage and put on the drawing table one piece. Once she achieves the perfect design – the way she wants it – the actual handcrafting process takes less time.
“It’s hard; there are so many young designers out there. Whichever market you go to, there are so many people there trying to sell their own stuff,” Helen says.
That’s why standing out with unique pieces was Helen’s solution to the saturated design industry. During summer, you may find Helen Noulas at your local market, where her work creates the ‘wow’ effect to those who see it.
Earlier this year, the young Greek Australian was selected among thousands of young designers to showcase her collection at the Melbourne Design Market in Federation Square.
In order to stay faithful to Elenii design and her customers, who appreciate the handmade work and the effort she puts into it, Helen is modest when talking about her future in the design industry.
“I wouldn’t mind going to clothing, but it would be something very minimal – jumpers, singlets. I have to stick to the Elenii design. I would love to get my jewellery designs and scarves incorporated into full garments. In future, it would be great to have a retail store, where I would be able to showcase my designs, as well as the work of other young designers,” says Helen, after recently bringing out a new range of designs – bow ties, scarves and beanies.
And when it comes to her inspiration – it is as unusual as her designs are.
“I’m inspired by texture, colour and 3D forms. I’m inspired with tribal shields and jewellery, anything large. That was my first inspiration and a lot of my first pieces are like that, large and colourful sculptural pieces. I like statement pieces – wearable art, that’s what it is.”
And with Helen about to go back to the drawing board and think about her summer collection, it is these summery accessories where her Greek heritage will play the main role, with Greek islander style incorporated in her work.
To see or purchase Helen’s work, visit her online store at www.elenii.com.au