Revealed: Meet the 2016 Beadwork Designers of the Year

Every year, the editors of Beadwork magazine are fortunate to work with an extremely talented group of bead artists. Although our artist lineup changes from issue to issue to ensure a variety of aesthetically diverse projects, each year we have a selection of consistent talent that we call our “Designers of the Year.” These artists are idolized for their unfailingly innovative and impressive work, and we take advantage of the opportunity to feature six projects from each artist throughout the course of the year. It’s now time to reveal the bead artists we selected to be your 2016 Beadwork Designers of the Year: Akke Jonkhof of the Netherlands, Evelína Palmontová of the Slovak Republic, and Nichole Starman of the United States.

We were first introduced to Akke’s work on Facebook, where groups of beaders fawn over her creative uses for shaped beads and the attractive designs she makes with them. Our editorial team loves Evelína’s component-based approach to design, one that uses repeating elements to create gorgeous, often sparkly beaded surfaces in appealing colorways. We’re sure you’ve heard of CzechMates, but did you know that Nichole Starman invented and developed these interchangeable two-hole beads? We know you’ll love the designs Nichole creates using CzechMates and other beads!
DOY Headshots

Take a moment to get to know these designers and find clues about what you can expect to learn from them as Designers of the Year, in this exclusive interview.

Q: How would you describe your design style?

Akke: My designs are straightforward and simple, with a modern look. The designs are often clean and geometric, and they have a lot of symmetry to them.

Evelína: I strive to create in a variety of styles, and therefore I don’t believe I have just one design style.

Nichole: Symmetry within chaos. I’m a bohemian at heart, but I also desire balance. To make these two conflicting values work, I try to stay true to the basic elements of design.

The following designs are examples of each designer's work and are not published in Beadwork.

Q: In what ways do you like to challenge yourself and others through your designs?

Akke: I design for my own fun and pleasure, so the challenge is in designing something new. I mainly focus on creating beautiful lines, patterns, and shapes in a design. For this reason, I often create in only a single color, which keeps the focus on the piece’s shapes and textures.

Evelína: I always try to create jewelry that–after someone looks at a photo of it–inspires the person to make the design. It’s a big challenge for me to create a piece as I’d imagined it to be.

Nichole: I like to challenge others to think differently about beads. It’s a personal challenge for me to create inspirational designs (both simple and complex) as a way to show others what the beads are capable of doing.

Q: We know you can’t reveal your projects as a Designer of the Year just yet, but will you give us a hint about your favorite upcoming design?

Akke: I haven’t finished all my designs yet, but so far the design that will be featured in the February/March 2016 issue is my favorite. This design includes a simple color scheme that allows the shape and texture to stand out.

Evelína: My favorite upcoming design looks like a bar of chocolate, is made in colors that don’t typically match, and is substantial in size.

Nichole: My favorite piece took me close to a year to perfect. I made sketches and stitched up small segments of the concept I had in mind, but I had a hard time getting the desired effect in full-scale. In the end, it turned out even better than I expected. The small adjustments I made over time improved the flexibility and structural integrity of the piece and simplified the instructions. It took a while to get it right, but it was worth it!

Q: What can our readers expect to learn from you as a 2016 Designer of the Year?

Akke: I like to experiment and work with new bead shapes. I hope that my contribution in the coming year will inspire readers, if they haven’t done so yet, to use these new shaped beads.

Evelína: I often design jewelry with square-shaped components instead of traditional round-shaped components. I’m excited to share this skill with readers.

Nichole: The jewelry that I created as a Designer of the Year features versatile new stitch techniques and two-hole beading methods that readers can easily integrate into their own designs.


Stay tuned to see the upcoming noteworthy designs from our 2016 Beadwork Designers of the Year. Their first projects can be found in the February/March 2016 issue of Beadwork magazine!

If you love what you see from our Designers of the Year (DOY’s), take a walk down memory lane and revisit the work of our previous DOY’s. Fall in love with Melanie Potter’s work all over again with the digital book, Best of Beadwork: 8 Projects by Designer of the Year Melanie Potter, or learn kumihimo with Jill Wiseman’s Kumihimo with Beads digital download video series.

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