“At some point, I just felt like I had to use my hands to create.” Taking this internal cue to heart, Switzerland-native Anaïde Davoudlarian launched her eponymous jewelry line and began working with her hands, but not before the industrial designer launched her premier studio, Anaïde Gregory Studio, in 2010, focusing on set installations and exhibitions.
Her inclination to work with her hands was tempered by her formal education in industrial and product design. Though she uses Adobe Suite, Rhino and SOLIDWORKS throughout the development process, she can’t seem to escape the allure of the physical creative process.
“IT’S JUST ALWAYS BEEN THE MOST DIRECT WAY FOR ME TO EXPRESS MYSELF. BUT NOW IT’S SO GREAT BECAUSE YOU CAN COMBINE BOTH.” – Anaïde
She makes silver pieces by hand, cuts paper with machine and designs the template for the machine, again by hand.
Anaïde’s background in industrial and installation design may seem a curious start for a jewelry designer, but a closer look proves it’s not too far off, at least not with Anaïde’s approach. “Whenever we get a new client, we always start by finding out what they want to communicate. Once we know what their ultimate goal is, we set about designing it in the most intelligent way we can with the most interesting materials we can think of.”
For Anaïde, it’s not about picking the most expensive material, it’s about picking the right material and using it in an unexpected way. “I always try to combine materials in order to highlight their individual beauty. In my ‘Silver and Paper’ collection, the silver is there to add weight and contrast with the lightness of the paper.” This glimpse into Anaïde’s creative process makes her transition to jewelry design much more palatable, especially when you see her designs.
Anaïde creates pieces that are at once luxurious and minimal, delicate and modern, all while catching the eye for their unique combinations of materials. In her above-mentioned silver and paper collection, she created covetable pieces from the unexpected pairing. “People don’t usually associate paper with jewelry, but it’s an excellent material. It’s easy to design with, inexpensive, you can find it anywhere and if you know how to use it, you can make beautiful constructions.” Her students in the Studios atelier learned how to make attractive, sophisticated looking pieces using the affordable material.
The students also learned how to take significant inspiration from their surroundings, visiting museums and exploring the city during the atelier. “Cascade. We were very into Cascade,” Anaïde notes, referring to the massive steps in the center of Yerevan. The influence of the patterns and geometric arrangements of the grand staircase is clear in the students’ final products. The repeating elements of a necklace mimic stone reliefs of the structure while the semi-circle cut of another clearly draws inspiration from the step’s fountains.
“One of the last places we visited before production began was the Sergei Parajanov Museum. I intentionally scheduled this trip toward the end because I wanted them to learn from this museum in particular. Parajanov’s work shows you how to take immense amounts of information and sensory stimuli and synthesize it. That’s the most important part of the design process — to take inspiration and cues from a thousand different directions and streamline it in such a way as to create one cohesive piece.” Lesson of the day: Always be more like Parajanov.
It’s all a process. “I sit at my jewelry bench. Make the first model. Then again, I draw, simplify, solve problems and start again.” Starting your own business, then going from industrial designer to jewelry designer to atelier leader isn’t a simple process and neither will be that of going from beginner to jewelry designer for the Studios participants, but the fundamental skills gained during Anaïde’s atelier will no doubt prepare them for the journey ahead. After all, Cascade wasn’t built in a day.