Kristin Berwald: 100 Creatives


Number 78: Kristin Berwald


City: Minneapolis


Years spent living in MN: 24

You may know jewelry designer Kristin Berwald as Bionic Unicorn, her other, more fantastical name. Her creations are statement pieces, often featuring whimsical-yet-dense references to steampunk, nature, literature, pirates, and rock 'n' roll. Themes are often juxtaposed within the layers of each piece--glittered skulls sparkle on blooming flowers, watch cogs dangle amidst golden feathers. Each item tells a story that cannot be read with a simple quick glance. Recently her baubles have been making quite a splash, and have been featured at the SCENEaSOTA runway show, the Wedge neighborhood's Cliché boutique, the MN fashion Holiday bazaar, and even Anime Weekend Atlanta. 


[jump] Name three things inspiring your work right now:

  1. Sci-fi/Fantasy (and all things magical).

  2. Art History: I love including historical and cultural references in my work.

  3. Nature: Plants, animals, and especially learning about different species.

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

  1. Growing up watching cartoons of the 1980s (She-Ra, My Little Pony, Jem). The bright colors and the magical elements made me feel like anything was possible.

  2. Couture fashion (Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood). I was into fashion at an early age. I always wanted to create fashion editorials when playing dress up.

  3. The need to bring more fantasy to reality. There's no need to live a beige life.

    What was your last big project?

I designed a jewelry collection for SCENEaSOTA 2010, a runway show that featured local fashion designers. My collection was called Supernatural History, and involved a combination of woodland and steampunk aesthetics. For example, there were necklaces with feathers popping out of vintage watch movements.

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar? 

I'm designing two collections for Avoid the Grey, a fashion show created by Cliché. One collection is very mod and geometric, inspired by futuristic Bond girls. The other will combine floral elements with Art Deco and Egyptian motifs. Avoid the Grey takes place January 29 at Old Arizona. I'm also designing a collection to accompany Max Lohrbach's designs for Voltage: Fashion Amplified at First Avenue in April.

Creative/career high point (so far)?

Definitely SCENEaSOTA. It was the most cohesive collection that I have designed so far, and I got the biggest high from that event. Since I design organically when I set out to create something the end result can differ from my original thoughts. With this collection, I was able to create exactly what I had initially envisioned. That in itself made me very proud.


What has been your biggest challenge as an artist/designer?

There's not enough of me to do everything I would like to do. Some ideas get put on the back burner for months because there are not enough hours in the day. Sometimes I wish I could clone myself. But then I think my clone would probably rebel against me and start her own jewelry line.

How has the local scene changed since you began your career?

I've been designing jewelry for just over two years, so that is hard to gauge. I think the local scene, as far as fashion goes, had already been well established when I entered the mix. I have been painting for over a decade though, so I will include that in my answer.

As a painter, I was less aware of my peers and local opportunities as far as events go--and that is likely my own fault. It's very easy to get submerged in the madness of one's own creativity. As a jewelry designer, I am way more tuned in to the local scene, thanks to MNfashion. I started participating in MNfashion events this last year, and I feel more connected with local designers and opportunities. The more unified and organized we are, the more we will stand out to the rest of the world as a unique fashion community.

Do you have a favorite color?


It depends on what the color is for. If we're talking cars, the answer is green. Flowers? Then pink. Clothes? Blue. The list could go on and on. I can never decide.

With a snap of your fingers your favorite movie will get a sequel. It's guaranteed to be good. Which movie do you choose? Why?

The Princess Bride. That movie has the wittiest script of all time. I want to see more true love, adventure, and revenge! Can I design some of Buttercup's jewelry?

See more of Kristin Berwald's work at or on her blog.

Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis


99. Sean Smuda

98. Chuck U


96. Amy Rice

95. Kara Hendershot