A dollar for your thoughts?

Tine De Ruysser has created a collection of money ornaments entitled “Money Makes the World Go Round” – making a comment on the value that we attach to gold and money.

The two materials are closely related. Paper money was invented because it was easier and safer to use than gold coins. For a long time banknotes were worth gold because no more money was printed than there was gold in the bank to cover it. This relation is now reversed: gold is now worth money.

However, golden items of personal adornment are still worn for various reasons. Ornaments display, for instance, the wealth of the owner. A further reason may be that the wearer prefers to keep his worldly goods within arm’s reach. In case of need a gold jewel can be easily exchanged for money.

It can also be otherwise because, if you wear De Ruysser’s money ornaments, you also show that you have money, albeit in a subtle way, because the notes are folded in such a way that you can never see them completely. They are still recognizable as money. You can even just unfold them and transform them into useful banknotes.

All banknotes in the collection were in fact legal tender at the time of being made into ornaments. The notes are simply folded and in no way damaged by cutting or pasting. However, it is origami money for which you pay more than the value of the banknotes because, just like gold ornaments, the designer-maker and the gallery live from the sales.

De Ruysser began the collection with two pieces for an exhibition at the Bank of America in London, where she questioned the relation between dollars and gold. That was the start of the larger collection in which the relation between the perception of money and gold in our society is questioned.

The ornaments are beautiful, bold and easy to wear. They come in all shapes, colours and sizes. However, the collection makes you pause and consider the value that we attach to money. De Ruysser confronts you with the duality between wanting to have lots of money and showing it off via your visible belongings, such as mobile phones and jewels on the one hand and the taboo against talking about how much money you earn on the other.

Is it really important to have lots of money and to show it? Is our society too greedy? The ornaments contribute to the debate raging around the subject, especially since the economic crisis struck and we were all regularly confronted with financial problems. This from a personal perspective rather than from the sometimes abstract perspective of bankers and economists.

The work of Tine De Ruysser is part of “Conflict & Design,” the 7th edition of the Design Triennial in Flanders (from Dec. 15, 2013, through Mar. 9,  2014; C-mine Genk – Belgium) This triennial focuses on the way designers approach conflict situations and on the impact their designs have on our society. Moreover, “conflict” motivates them to create innovative social design processes and projects. It affords their work substance and meaning.

For more information, visit http://www/conflictanddesign.be/nl/homepagina 


Tine De Ruyesser is a jewellery designer by training. Her first degree at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Antwerp taught her jewellery techniques, there she also learned how to design conceptual work. She then went on to the Royal College of Art in London where she finished her MA in 2001. During her two years there, she invented an innovative folding material: a combination of metal and textiles.

After finishing her MA, De Ruyesser returned to Belgium where she set up as a freelance artist-designer of jewellery and accessories. She trained as a teacher, and briefly taught at the Stedelijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Sint Niklaas in 2005.

Later that year she started a PhD at the Royal College of Art. Her research was a further development of the material she invented during her MA. She investigated production methods and folding patterns as well as the design possibilities for wearables (jewellery, accessories and jewellery-fashion hybrids). In 2010, De Ruyesser finished her PhD, officially making her a doctor in the subject.

She enjoys making work in those two different ways: either reacting conceptually to a brief, or creating flexible folding objects as beautifully as possible. She loves sharing knowledge with people of all ages, she teaches at Lincoln University and as avisiting lecturer at a range of colleges.