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Urban Mythology

Amidst the growing uncertainty of our times and a world that often feels disenchanting, there exists a captivating refuge—the timeless realms of mythology. It is here that designers find solace and inspiration, drawing from ancient tales of myth and magic to navigate the complexities of contemporary culture.

Throughout history, mythology has wielded a profound influence in shaping and challenging established orders. Similarly, three visionary designers—Maxime Buono, SORCERER, and Joanne Burke—chart their own paths guided by these enduring narratives. Through their skilled hands, they transform myths into tangible treasures, offering not just escapism or reflections on contemporary discourse, but also conjurings for envisioning new futures. By delving into history, culture, and materials, their creations defy conventions, presenting narratives that resonate with our times and emotions, while also opening new realms for contemplation and strengthening our visions for the future.

Maxime Buono. Courtesy of the artist.
Maxime Buono. Courtesy of the artist.



Maxime Buono is a French media artist whose approach seamlessly blends contemporary social media visual aesthetics with surreal plotlines. This creates a chimerical realm where the lines between perception and reality blur, evoking a sense of hallucinatory magic. His mastery lies in skillfully manipulating what’s conceivable in our world, reshaping social narratives and even the laws of physics, offering glimpses into a consciousness aware of something ‘beyond’. While his visuals may initially resemble those found in conspiracy theory circles online, the content of his work diverges significantly. Rather than spreading disinformation, Buono operates at the boundary between what currently exists and what could be. He accomplishes this by interweaving culturally relevant concepts that possess the potential to coalesce but have not yet done so, thereby actualising new connections reminiscent of contemporary myths.


Buono’s creative vision extends far beyond digital boundaries, evident in his diverse collection of necklaces. Each piece is a unique blend of elements he both casts and discovers, resulting in a captivating array of textures and forms. Intricately attached talismans, crafted from precious metals or stones, dangle from chains and hoops, adding layers of visual intrigue.


But these necklaces are more than mere accessories; they are gateways to a realm of rich tales and mythical origins. Buono claims them to be gifts from a mystical river, promising wearers that they are his ancestral pearls, aura protectors, spiritual animal guardians, and interstellar connectors. In his narrative, the necklaces become treasures infused with cultural significance and power, transcending the traditional notion of jewellery. Through the lens of this alternate reality, rigid historical and societal values dissolve, opening up the potential for everything to hold fantastical significance.

Sorcerer. Courtesy of the artist.
Sorcerer. Photography by performers. Directed by Greta Liht. Performed by Eva Metspalu, Jette Loona Hermanis, Johhan Rosenberg, Maarja Tosin, Mark Nathan Monak, Pääsu-Liis Kens. Music mixed by Magnar-Stig.
Sorcerer. Photography by performers. Directed by Greta Liht. Performed by Eva Metspalu, Jette Loona Hermanis, Johhan Rosenberg, Maarja Tosin, Mark Nathan Monak, Pääsu-Liis Kens. Music mixed by Magnar-Stig Virgo

In this convergence of ancient myths and contemporary narratives, jewellery and accessories transcend mere adornment, becoming a medium for dialogue between reality and the more-than-real.



SORCERER, a multidisciplinary Estonian design collective of artists, performers, and designers, repurposes materials to craft garments and accessories that defy conventional notions of beauty and utility. By using recycled and second-hand materials, they embody a cyclical and regenerative mythos, mirroring the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living beings. This conscious approach to creation not only minimises waste but also plays out a new mythology where the collective responsibility to nurture and protect the planet reigns.


Through diverse mediums such as garments, handbags, jewellery, installations, art performances, and photography, SORCERER constructs immersive worlds that transcend societal standards. Their designs challenge notions of authorship, shifting the focus from human-centric narratives to ones that celebrate the agency of nature itself. By embracing tears, rips, and signs of wear as elegant embellishments rather than flaws, SORCERER champions a radical departure from the industrialised and perfected beauty standards, instilling a reverence for the handmade, organic, and the frayed.


Central to SORCERER’s mythology is a profound understanding that the human body serves not only as a vessel for experience but also as a medium for the magic inherent in the environment. This perspective underscores a visceral relationship with nature, where sensations, emotions, and lived experiences intertwine with the fabric of their creations, blurring the boundaries between human bodies and their environment.

Sorcerer. Courtesy of the artist.
Sorcerer. Photography by Kristina Kuzemko



Nature also plays a pivotal role in English jeweller Joanne Burke’s artistic narrative. Her collections of talismans and jewellery unfold a distinctive approach that eclipses the boundaries of contemporary society, establishing a profound connection with ancient civilizations. Delving into the annals of history, Burke traces symbols from epochs when nature communicated with humanity and mermaids were not mere myths. In this exploration, she casts objects such as the Mermaid’s Purse and plants with cryptic language intricately woven into their leaves.


Burke’s meticulous engagement with the past provides fertile ground for magical thinking, unveiling a temporal dimension that flows like a current—slower and much deeper than the hurried pace of modern society. This deliberate act turns the act of creation into a sacred and intentional journey, where every piece carries the essence of ancient wisdom.


Through symbolism and references to folklore, Burke’s creations serve as bridges between the contemporary world and a magical, mythological realm. Her work extends an invitation to delve into the depths of our shared human heritage, infusing contemporary life with the profound magic intricately woven into the fabric of existence. Employing the craft of metal casting, she assumes the role of a magical alchemist, adept at distilling the enchantment of myth into tangible, natural phenomena.


Joanne Burke. Reposted from artist's Instagram (@___joanneburke___).

In this convergence of ancient myths and contemporary narratives, jewellery and accessories transcend mere adornment, becoming a medium for dialogue between reality and the more-than-real. Buono, SORCERER, and Burke craft tangible objects that manifest this dialogue, enriching our lives with the timeless wisdom of myth and the vitality of modern storytelling. Stay tuned for the second part of the article, where we delve deeper into the transformative power of their artistry.


This article is part of a larger exploratory series called Urban Mythology commissioned by Current Obsession. The theme blends personal mythology and modernised traditions to present a new take on identity, oral history, and symbolic language. Reclaiming history and decolonising the past and future through innovative narratives and in-depth research, it examines anything from beliefs, (cyber) deities, folklore, shamanism, to the creative prowess of multicultural artists. Diving into a world where ethereality meets living jewellery, where history is not just retold but reimagined. Urban Mythology seeks to explore the richness of our past and present, redefining our traditions and propelling us towards an uncharted future.


Tiiu Meiner is an Estonian curator and writer based in Rotterdam, NL. Central to Meiner’s work are socio-political discourses in daily lived experiences. She particularly creates work focussing on language as a material and the design of narratives about nature and social hierarchies. Her multidisciplinary outcomes encompass exhibitions, poetry, essays, panel discussions and film.


Cover image by SORCERER. Courtesy of the artist.


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