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Silvia in her São Paulo-based atelier

Jewellery Designer Silvia Furmanovich – Combining daring designs with attention to detail

Daring designs combine her meticulous attention to detail with her wide-ranging passions for the natural world, where ancient cultures and unusual materials meet.

Silvia Furmanovich

Daring designs combine her meticulous attention to detail with her wide-ranging passions for the natural world, where ancient cultures and unusual materials meet.

My most treasured collection…

I can’t pick a favourite – it would be like picking a favourite child! But one of the recent collections I feel very excited about is the marquetry collection, which I am still developing into new shapes and forms.

Silvia Furmanovich

The collection is a result from a trip I took to the north of Brazil, almost to the frontier of Peru, where I visited a group of artisans. One of the guides told an amazing story about being raised in the forest. Very skillful in wood marquetry, he had studied to be a priest; the German priests allowed him to attend four years in a German university. Afterwards, he came back to the forest and opened his own business.

The local team is very talented and they’ve made something I would have never imagined possible to create in the smaller scale of jewellery. It’s a very Brazilian collection. The pieces lightweight and colourful, the designs are based on tree branches, feathers in a variety of colours, geometric patterns of gems, and flowers from the Amazon.

The world of jewellery has seen a return to craftsmanship and ancient artisanal techniques with an emphasis on the hand.

My latest collection…

Inspired by India’s art, architecture and culture, my latest collection draws on the traditional art of miniature painting. During a trip to New York in 2016, I found myself standing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art among 100 masterful paintings in the exhibition “Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts”. The Exhibition portrayed epic and poetic literature, commissioned by Rajasthan royalty from the 16th through the 19th centuries, celebrating the diverse styles of Indian painting. Mesmerised by the works, I later embarked on a 40-day artistic pilgrimage through India, including New Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur and Pushkar. In Udaipur, I encountered artisans who have specialised in the painstaking tradition of miniature painting since the 16th century. Their art form evoked the vividly coloured works I encountered in the New York exhibition.

Earring set in 18k gold with diamond and pearl, emerald and miniature painting

I then commissioned artisans from Udaipur to create dreamlike natural scenes, intricate figures and vibrant patterns on scalloped pieces of wood and bone for her newest collection. The pieces are painted with brushes of just one or two squirrel-tail hairs, utilising mineral-based pigments made of crushed gems such as blue lapis lazuli and green malachite, as well as yellow sulphur, black carbon and red iron oxide.

Sculpted in silhouettes reminiscent of Mughal architectural elements, the works are then mounted into statement earrings with gemstones echoing the hues of the paints, including emeralds, rubies, sapphires, tourmalines, diamonds and South Sea pearls. Beyond the miniature pieces, other designs in the collection incorporate elements and materials inspired by India’s rich artistic heritage. Thin slabs of inlaid marble are transformed into earrings with precious stones and diamonds. Architectural details of Hindu temples are mimicked in carvings from rose quartz, rock crystal and green jade. Rudraksha beads, a talisman associated with the god Shiva, are strung into necklaces and earrings.

Travels inspire me…

A trip to any city in the world is enough to inspire me! It could be anything: a frieze from a mausoleum in India; the gilded forms of a Baroque picture frame in a museum; woven bamboo pieces from Thailand at a local artisan market; flora and fauna from the Amazon rainforest; textiles found at antique shops in Japan…the list is endless!

Bracelet set in 18k gold with diamond, ruby and mother-of-pearl (Bird Bracelet)

My favourite city…

One of my favourite places in the world is Ubud, Bali. I am in love with the verdant, lush landscape and feel at home there, and it is the perfect setting for practising yoga.

My recommendations…

People travelling to São Paulo should certainly visit MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo (Museum of Art of São Paulo), designed by the Italian-born, Brazilian-based mid-century architect Lina Bo Bardi. The works in their private collection are exhibited in chronological order, and displayed so that the backs of each painting can be seen because they are framed between glass sheets, held together by concrete bases. It is a very surprising and innovative way of displaying art!

My travel must-haves…

I never leave without lavender and geranium essential oils (combined as fragrance); Triphala supplements (I am obsessed with Ayurveda’s principles ever since having discovered it in India a few years ago); my yoga mat; make up from RMS Beauty; and my iPhone earphones!

My weekend retreat…

I like doing yoga retreats during the weekends, which helps me get balanced and centred.

Earring set in 18k gold with diamond and green tourmaline, marble and malachite
Earring set in 18k gold with diamond and green tourmaline, marble and malachite

My favourite hotels…

<> Any Aman resort around the world: the Amanjiwo, one of my favourite ones, is a spiritual resort in Java, and has extraordinary views over Borobudur.

<> Asaba Ryokan located in Japan’s Izu Peninsula: the property dates from the 17th century, overlooks a pond and is surrounded by bamboo forests. There are also hot springs on the property––a magical and restorative experience!

<> The Greenwich Hotel in New York City: the best place to stay in town, the décor is understated yet incredibly chic, a massage in the Japanese-inspired Shibui spa is divine! The hotel brought over 250-year old Japanese barn beams into the spa, which adds a very balancing, calming energy to the space.

<> The Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet: it is a remarkable building in one of the historic parts of the city. Having breakfast at the hotel’s outdoor inner courtyard during a summer day is incredible; you can smell jasmine flowers in the air and the place is full of hummingbirds!

<> Hotel Daniel in Paris – the chinoiserie décor is exquisite, and the rooms are very cosy.

Find my collection… You can find a selection of my work at Bergdorf Goodman, in New York City.

Trends for 2018… I am not sure if this only applies to 2018, but in parallel to the unprecedented technological advancements of the last year, I would say the jewellery world has seen a return to craftsmanship and traditional artisan techniques with an emphasis on the hand. My work is all about this.

Silvia in her São Paulo-based atelier
Silvia in her São Paulo-based atelier

My work look… A simple white kimono-like cotton dress, very comfortable and suited to the heat.

My holiday look… A beautiful caftan with a gorgeous, vibrant print, and lots of jewellery!

My recommendation on picking up the right jewellery… Don’t be afraid to wear daring, bold pieces…one has to have fun.

 

Since launching her brand over 15 years ago, Silvia Furmanovich has become one of the most visionary artists working in fine jewellery today. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, into a line of Italian goldsmiths, her great-grandfather created sacred adornments for the Vatican and her father worked as a goldsmith. As a child, Furmanovich spent hours working beside her father in his atelier. She established an appointment-only jewellery business in 1998 and opened her first standalone boutique in São Paulo in 2009.

 

 

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© This article was first published in June-July 2018 edition of World Travel Magazine.

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