I wanted to ask some essential questions to a few designers we represent, who don’t only design but also hand make and for whom it is not just about business or not just about the product. These are the three questions I drafted and asked them to answer:
‘Please tell us more about your brand’s story, in your own words. Clearly your brand was born from a desire, please tell us more.’
‘What made you start your brand and what was essential when you launched this brand?’
‘What feels important to you today when it comes to your brand?’
I asked them to send a few pictures to illustrate their inspirations, their brand’s story. We hope you enjoy!
“Before I started working as a designer, I spent over a decade curating exhibitions on fashion and contemporary design, and worked with product designer Tom Dixon for many years. So jewellery feels like the perfect environment for me, sitting as it does in between fashion, art and craftsmanship, a place where my knowledge and experience contributes to what I do currently. This fluidity, or refusal of the possibility of fixed definition, also makes jewellery an interesting place for someone who likes to tell stories. And I love colour, which jewellery indulges in abundance.
Standing in the Mehrangir Fort, looking at a jewellery box that would once have belonged to a member of the royal family, I started to imagine what kind of jewels it might have contained, and how I could create a collection of work that celebrated India’s craft and ritual traditions whilst finding a contemporary voice for them.
The sacred architecture and patterns of the Silk Route were the inspiration for my first collection. I used to work as a curator, and this approach, finding the connections and resonances between ideas and objects, continues to inspire my design. I draw inspiration from a number of sources – archives, libraries, conversations and experiments, from architecture, textiles, painting, the way objects were worn, individual rituals of dress. It could be an idea – pigment, or scent – that triggers a collection. I draw and paint a lot, using that process to bring disparate sources together. And of course, master-craft techniques then play a really important role – what is possible with meenakari, for example I love working with enamel; it’s like painting on gold, a feat of craftsmanship that requires high artistry and intricate technical knowledge.
Creating collections using the best of the world’s craftsmanship, bringing old skills to new audiences, a design archaeology, and for a company with rich and inspiring heritage. Sitting in the workshop in Jaipur, drawing whilst the master-craftsman I work with engraves new work, and we talk about pieces we could make. I am of course concerned about the sustainability of skill and ideas, Communities are created around craft traditions, making and growing things with our hands; allow those traditions to pass, and those communities to fade and splinter, and younger generations will abandon the country for the faint hope of new life in the metropolis, placing increasing strain on resources as people’s lifestyle changes and they become. An exceptional and internationally renowned jeweller in India said that my work looked as good on the cabinet as it does on the body, and I think that’s important for me – that jewellery has an inherent beauty as an object, as a piece of art, sculpture.
“[Alice’s] use of ebony, precious gems, stone, gold and enamel is innovative yet extremely wearable. These will be passed lovingly on from our generation to the next and the next… I’d put money on them not losing value either financially or emotionally, but then some of the best buys are for love, not money.” – writes Caroline Banks, an old friend, but also increasingly successful design blogger. more distant from the source of where things are made – both literally and philosophically. Environmentally friendly materials are an important part of a wider story about our alienation from how things are made.
I design because I am inspired on a poetic and material level; I think the women I then think of when I work are people who might share an instinctive passion for experiment and poetry, are inspired by culturally resonant ideas and objects. And confidently make style rather than being briefed about it.
“My brand was born from a childhood passion. When I was very young, I would go every Wednesday with my mother to the dressmakers in Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. I was attracted by Paris’s lights, I loved fashion magazines from that time, particularly “Le jardin des modes” and Marie Claire Bis. My biggest shock happened in 1987 when I discovered Christian Lacroix’s first show, everything became obvious.
I have always wanted to create something fresh and full of humour, and I have wanted to convey a sense of French chic, mixed with my never ending inspirations, French pop, French and American 50s musicals, cowboys and cowgirls, the circus and the work of two major photographers, Jean Paul Goude and more recently Tim Walker.”
“The brand was born from my desire of producing things with my own hands. I was already working as a stylist in advertising at that time and being a freelance, I had lots of free time so I needed to create something new, something to release me from a certain boredom. I think it is very important to make the difference. To have your own signature that can be recognised and appreciated in this big crowd.
What was important when I launched my brand was to do something that makes me happy, and something taking me away from my everyday work as a stylist I hope my work will remain authentic forever.”
“The desire for perennially, for beauty, from pure and fresh aesthetics. The Beautiful for being Beautiful, we believe in doing for ourselves no matter what work one of us may have. We believe in dedication, perseverance and discipline, in the pleasure to perform well, to create and produce something from scratch. Insert our aesthetics into our brand, to present it through pictures, videos, showing our way to communicate, our language . What move us is the dream and possibly to engage with those ones who share the same world as us. The harmony between fashion and sunglasses has always fascinated us. The craftsmanship, the hands that sculpt a special object, the poetry…
Lapima is our family business, where our kids stop by everyday and where they learn their parents’ passion to do something that gives them pleasure in a lovely atmosphere of collaboration between all of the people who work with us, in order to make our dream come true.”
“Since childhood I spent all my summers in Tel Aviv, and the magical surroundings and the timeless attitude towards jewellery that is passed on through generations has always facinated me. I have always had a feeling of not belonging anywhere, not in the Middle East, not in Scandinavia. This has forced me to create my own universe from a very early age, that I use as a force when creating my jewellery. The desire to create jewellery came to me in a dream, like a clear vision and I knew this was my calling and I have not been able to stop since. It runs through my veins and blood.
ORIT ELHANATI is a way for me to express my thoughts and visions, and each piece is handmade and unique, crafted here in Copenhagen. It was an organic journey to get where I am now, with an overwhelming response from the very beginning. My first collections such as PALMA and ROCK are still perceived as new and are as popular as when I created them several years ago. Exactly this is what I want to achieve with my brand.
I want people to become a part of the jewellery and create their own stories. I want the bearers of my jewellery to keep the pieces to pass on and create their own magical expressions by combining pieces to match their own universe. ORIT ELHANATI has grown organically, and I believe the most important thing is constantly staying true to yourself and your own expressions. I am inspired by nature, feelings and my background with the Middle Eastern mystery, colours and magic and the clean Nordic lines that come to life in my designs and become one, in my contact search for meaning.
I put my heart and soul into every single piece. Life can be difficult at times, and it is important for me to create something that inspires and makes a difference in this world and ads meaning to our existence. I want my jewellery to evolve with the bearer and become a part of their story, of their life and of their memories.”
“Pramma’s story is my story. I decided to create my brand when I had the desire to tell this story and I knew it would be a relevant one.I have been working with artisans since very young in Italy. The appreciation and the respect for this reality has always been with me. They are the ones who make my vision come reality. They are all part of Pramma’s journey.
Pramma is an honest product, the brand is about knowledge, experience, quality, beauty, vision, and passion. Everything we do is true to these values and the integrity, we started with, will be with us throughout the journey.”
“An interior designer, passionate with beautiful objects and art, I launched my brand, that got Damien Hirst’s support right away. He purchased a clutch for his partner.
As a creative director, I have the resolute desire to have Museums of Contemporary Arts’ female curators as well as super chic ladies to love and wear my creations. I am fascinated by the “beautiful-bad” taste of the Jet Set.
I am first of all, passionate about the genuine “Hand crafted” quality, I want to promote “les métiers d Art Francais”, the know-how of Paris’ small master craftsmen. Each season, I propose a limited edition of pochettes that turn into Art objects, rare, precious and edgy. My aim is to make my brand totally addictive, and to establish a confidential circle of collectors, curious and sophisticated clients, who can hardly wait for me to unveil the next collection.”
Some experiences end up shaping the whole course of one’s life. I founded Sarah’s Bag because of such an experience: I was a graduate student working on my master’s thesis and doing fieldwork at a local NGO in Beirut that supports underprivileged women, including ex-prisoners and former prostitutes. The six months I spent working with these women, hearing their stories of hardship, poverty, and abuse made me determined to create a business that would give them a chance to build a new life for themselves and their families. And so, I set up Sarah’s Bag as a way to combine my love of fashion and design with a rehabilitation project and social enterprise that would train and employ these women.
Seventeen years later, we are a global fashion label working with 200 artisans, 50 of whom are female prisoners and the rest are ex-prisoners, underprivileged women and Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Sarah’s Bag is all about luxuriously handcrafted statement pieces. We also focus on incorporating rich traditions of Levantine craftsmanship with a modern twist into our designs. This focus on handwork coupled with a strong aesthetic is at the heart of what we do.
“When I began working in jewellery, It was a natural progression from my work in sculpture. My aesthetic was already quite defined, but I felt the scale was wrong, I wanted to make pieces on a more intimate scale, something you could hold in your hand.
My first collection was produced with the same working methods I had used in sculpture – months of quietly making, until I had a focused body of work. Nobody else was involved; it was really a case of trying to find a way, with my own hands, to make the forms I saw in my head. This is very much the way we still work now in the studio.
I have always wanted to create pieces that feel quite otherworldly, almost magical. Collections of tiny golden forms inspired by forms and textures of seeds, grasses, insects that take you away from the here and now. I try to make things that look like they haven’t existed before, delicate hybrids of creatures and flowers, and which celebrate the intrinsic properties of precious metals – the colours, glow, density and softness.
Some of our newest pieces have the tiniest of details, facets in different colour metals or with a different finish. These details are not immediately obvious, and I love the idea of catching a glimpse of this when a piece moves on the body, of it gradually being revealed. So, for me the most important qualities I am searching for are honesty and integrity in the making process, a sense of poetry, and a soulful, quiet kind of beauty.”