A visionary in the jewellery world, Silvia Furmanovich proves why ancestral techniques, hand-craftsmanship and sustainability in the jewellery industry are here to stay...
They say 2019 is the year for you to either go big or don’t bother at all when it comes to making a statement with your jewellery. And in Silvia Furmanovich’s case, that’s exactly what the brand did.
It was in 1997 that the daughter of a renowned goldsmith, Silvia Furmanovich, took the knowledge channeled down from her father and released a distinctive range of jewellery pieces and eventually, clutches too. It was through her memories from unique travel experiences that drove the designer to beautifully craft her contemporary inspirations into a work of art.
The eponymous label broke all jewellery rules when they revived an ancient technique and introduced it to jewellery enthusiasts around the world. Using a 16-century ancestral technique, marquetry, Silvia eventually intertwined the creations with wood, lightness, semi-precious stone and gold, resulting in a precious piece of artwork.
It wasn’t too long after that Silvia’s son, Alexandre Furmanovich, eventually followed in his mother’s footsteps. Adding his own twist to the already-successful design aesthetic of the brand, Alexandre merges the past and the present, eventually manifesting in creations a striking balance between tradition and innovation.
Here, he speaks to MOJEH about the process behind it all, the new Botanical collection and which celebrity he’d like most to front his designs…
Welcome back to Dubai! Can you tell us more about the new Botanical collection?
The new Botanical Collection is a really important collection for us because it is something that really represents Brazil. It’s made by a community located in the middle of the Amazon forest in Brazil. It’s made with sustainable wood, natural colour – not dyed or anything – and it was a great collection for us because it is something so unique that people really appreciate the craftsmanship. We started this four years ago and we started with just flat surfaces. Then we decided to do jewellery in a 3D way which includes more volume. We needed to cut the wood into flowers and pieces, and then we had the marquetry work done on it. The community used to work on large sizes like tables and furniture, so they were able to diminish the size in order to make the jewellery.
A sustainable approach to your jewellery pieces! What are your thoughts on how the ethical jewellery industry is growing?
I think the world has changed. Nowadays you need to be sustainable. For example, lots of jewellery houses used ivory and it’s the same thing as wearing a fur coat these days. Especially when you extract these types of materials from nature, like wood, you don’t want to destroy the trees and you have to be pretty sustainable. The world has changed completely.
What’s your favourite piece from the collection?
For me, my favourite would be the butterflies of course! They are always one of a kind pieces. The colours are incredible and I really like the lily pads with the frogs because if you go to the community in the Amazon, you see lots of lily pads over there.
Getting to understand the roots of the brand, how would you describe the Silvia Furmanovich design aesthetic?
It’s actually quite difficult to say because there are so many inspirations from all over! (Laughs) And there’s a long process that goes behind making the jewellery as well.
How long does it usually take?
Sometimes it takes a year. If it’s a really special piece that takes time to manufacture or you need to find the right stone, the right colour or even just for the idea to come, it can take over a year.
What type of woman comes to mind when designing your pieces?
I think it’s someone who really likes art and someone who already owns a few diamonds. However, they also want to have something that is unseen before and at the same time, really wearable. It’s not something that will stay in the safe all of the time. It’s a statement piece.
Your mother started her career with knowledge passed down from her father. Now that you’re following in your mother’s footsteps, how have you brought your own vision to the brand?
Well the thing is, I was always into stones and my mother was always into different materials. We liked merging these two concepts of the stones and different materials. When I went to India, she also came to India with me and we got several carved stones and we set it in a different way to complement each other.
Was she always keen on listening to your ideas?
Yes! Because I would say that I’m a bit more traditional with stones and she would be more innovative with the materials. When she first discovered wood, I was the one that said we needed to be combined with precious and semi-precious stones.
Your collections seem to be injected with influences from your travels and nature…
Of course! We’ve been all over and each time we go to different places, we have different ideas. We did a Japanese collection about four years ago. My mother has a really good vision of sourcing collections. She went to a place in Japan called Wajima, and she found a set of antique spoons which she eventually turned into earrings. She cut the spoon in half and one side was a spoon and the other side was the handle of the spoon.
Some of your key collections have also been named after countries including Japan, Egypt, Italy and India. Will we see a UAE-inspired collection soon?
Probably… (Laughs). It’s something that we would like to see. We would have to go into the details and find something that is typical here but something that we can adapt to jewellery.
The brand opened its first standalone boutique in Brazil in 2009. Fast forward ten years later, are you hoping to branch out and open more standalone stores around the world?
Yes! But, it would have to be in certain places. I would love to have one in London, in New York and key places around the world. Eventually I would like one here in the Middle East, which will obviously be in Dubai. It’s a key city!
What’s your take on jewellery here in the Middle East?
I think jewellery is like a culture here in the Middle East. There’s everything here. There’s something more traditional, and if you think of jewellery from here, you eventually think about gold and [lots] of diamonds (laughs!)
Some of the brand’s award-winning pieces have been worn by celebrities including Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow and Isabeli Fontana. Is there another celebrity that you would love to see front your pieces?
For me, I would have to say Cate Blanchett!
What can we expect to see next?
We’ll be launching an Oriental collection in three months with limited-edition clutches and jewellery pieces. Stay tuned!
Silvia Furmanovich is available at the AZZA Showroom, located at the La Fountaine Centre of Contemporary Art, Manama, Bahrain.
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