Friday, May 28, 2010

Joanna Cave: Treasure Trove

London correspondent Nicole Dalamagas uncovers hidden treasure

Like Greece itself, whose bustling cobbled streets and white-wash buildings hold the perpetual stamp of the ancient world, Joanna Cave’s jewelry is a quirky fusion of playful contemporary design and archaic inspiration. Each piece captures the simplicity of her Grecian heritage, mirroring the dreamy, turquoise waters and rich, dark brown soils of the Aegean islands. Her du-jour classics revolutionize ancient ideals; twisting something natural and pure into something more tactile and sculptural, adorning women’s ears, wrists and fingers with unexpected drops of sheer modernistic cool.
Even the process encapsulates this: her ultra-chic designs are complemented by her choice of eco-friendly and recycled materials that bear the inexplicable charm of ethical craftsmanship. Yet for Cave, the ingredients of this process are more than just a careful consideration of materials. “The process involved in creating a piece is the combination of silver, a feeling, inspiration, and the imagination of the female body,” she explains. Cave then becomes the ultimate craftswoman: welding high end glamour with organic themes, fusing intricate detailing with subtle simplicity, adding a touch of creative individuality and a dash of urban cool.

On the picturesque Cycladic island of Ios, enveloped in Mediterranean bliss, Cave was brought up by her Greek mother and English father, who became a chief inspiration, both creatively and ethically. “My dad actually studied art, he is an artist, a painter who also owns a shop with designer jewelry. He influenced me a great deal by encouraging me to paint and use my imagination, he also always wanted me to be active and never waste my talent, to fight for good causes and look after the planet. He was also the person who supported me most when deciding to become more ethical and sustainable in my production.” His influence is imperative to each design.

All her jewelry is crafted by hand, using ethically-sustained and recycled materials, “I use mostly recycled silver in my designs. I melt an existing piece of jewelry and use the silver to remake a new piece. I believe in a piece of jewelry holding its own story and personality, but more than anything I believe that the world is full of unwanted pieces that need a new lease of life. If I didn't use recycled silver I would have to buy silver that's been extracted from the earth through mining which contributes to a huge environmental destruction. The working conditions for people working in mines are also very harsh and dangerous.”

By recycling silver, Cave embellishes her fashion-forward followers with more than just glamour and sophistication, but with the treasured story of our natural history. Their bodies become an existential plane of traditionalism and true moral value. This idea of memory and the respect for life has been something Cave has valued from a young age, "(I remember) sitting with my grandmother by the fireplace one Easter evening... listening to stories about the past, about people alive and gone, I remember thinking "how extraordinary life is, how it moves and evolves and people come and go" I remember feeling appreciative of the moment sitting there with her.”

After attending an international school in Athens, Cave studied jewelry design in London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Here she assisted a number of designers, including Scott Wilson and Tanya Griebel. Her notebooks from her student years in London are filled with her artistic inspirations, taken from anything from some far-away country’s folklore art to a tree down at the end of her street to an old children’s book or a piece of vintage wallpaper. Her muses are just as vast and diverse, including “My friend Miranda for her elegant chic, and yet timeless style, and my Aunt Pruedence for her truly fantastic personality and the way in which she lives."

She leads the most spiritual yet modern life, recycles, up cycles, has a compost and basically lives in the most eco friendly way from anyone I've ever met.. also last but not least artist Louise Bourgeois for being so dynamic in every way.

Her latest collection has been inspired by geometric forms and romantic symbols, and patterns evoked from the natural world. Fans can expect delicately cut out drop earrings, such as ‘Anoush’, ‘Agnes’ and ‘Pilar’, charming necklaces, such as ‘Fish’, which features three ethically sustained pearls and a golden fish-shaped pendant, and “Isabel’, with its four gold rings carrying four pieces of colored silver carved into abstract shapes. The pearls used are ethically produced high quality ‘Japanese Akoya’, respecting natural and social fair trade guidelines and the silver is 90% recycled sterling silver sourced by people who enjoy their job and are paid fairly.
Cave’s other artistic endeavors have involved creating pieces for prestigious fashion designers’ Deux Hommes collection and designing a room in the style of her signature jewelry for the Fashion House Hotel in Athens.

A collaboration with her good friend Eleanor Dorian Smith, the fashion designer behind the label Partimi is also on the horizon. Fans can expect “a collection of accessories combining forces and using 'ethically sourced materials.” Hitting shops for SS2011, this collection will no doubt be a sell out. In fact shockingly, despite the simplistic beauty of Cave’s pieces, in terms of both their aesthetic grace and their ethical worth, her prices remain affordable to everyone - for Cave, ethical fashion should not be elitist.

Her collections are sold in the UK, in London and in Brussels, as well as in her current home, Athens, but you can also contact her to request a design. These pieces are truly as remarkable and individual as the designer herself, whose wise words I will leave you with now: ”Be yourself no matter what.” NICOLE DALAMAGAS

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