- Sophie Buhai
“I love the idea of jewelry as objects or sculpture. I think if I was not designing jewelry I would be designing chairs, lamps or candelabras. I am a designer more than a jeweler.”
LIVING AND WORKING IN LOS ANGELES, SOPHIE BUHAI CREATES HEIRLOOM-MODERNIST JEWELS AND ACCESSORIES, DESIGNER FOR EVERY DAY, THAT TRANSCEND TRENDS AND GENERATION. TO CELEBRATE THE ARRIVAL OF HER NEW COLLECTION AT WHITEBIRD, WE SAT DOWN WE SOPHIE AND ASK HER SOME QUESTIONS. READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH THE DESIGNER.
1. What is your link to the world of jewellery? Do you have a family connection?
No one in my family made jewelry but my grandmother, mother and great-aunts were all great appreciators of jewelry and each had their own very different collections. My grandmother collected Scandinavian silver and mid-century American silver jewelry, my great-aunts were early art jewelry enthusiasts, and my mother collected Mexican silver. What they all had in common was the idea that jewelry was not about expensive precious stones, but rather about imagination and ideas.
2. Tell us about your origins and your career path.
I went to art school at Parsons in New York. I designed clothing for 10 years and then started a new path in jewelry about 7 years ago.
3. Your creations are timeless objects inspired by the Modernist tradition. Can you tell us about your passion for design?
I love the idea of jewelry as objects or sculpture. I think if I was not designing jewelry I would be designing chairs, lamps or candelabras. I am a designer more than a jeweler. It’s all about the design. So much of what is made today is fast and disposable. I love things that are made well, with a strong visual perspective and sense of craft. I think we need less things but more beautiful things made to last.
4. How do you create your jewellery? What was your first creation?
I was trained at Parsons to design and I still use the same method they train their students in. I go to the library to look at actual books, research, then create boards, then develop theme or concept, then sketch and sketch, then create prototypes in wax, then edit those, then edit more, then finally the result. I have an amazing team of artisans I work with to develop the pieces.
5. What role does time play in your creations?
Everything takes time. But some designs are very simple and happen by accident while others I will obsess over for way too long until it is right.
6. Are you attached to any jewel in particular? If yes, then which one?
I really love the carved stone pieces we are making. They are like little sculptures and feel ancient and precious to me. Like talismans. They have taken us a long time to develop and bring me great joy. I like the challenge of working with stones.
7. Apart from the hand (and therefore touch), which other limb or sense would you be unable to live without?
8. What would you have done if you had not become a jewellery designer?
I would design something else. Glassware, chairs, lamps etc. To me it’s all the same, it's just what you choose to focus on.
9. What other passions do you have apart from jewellery?
10. Who are your favourite artists?
Jean Michel Frank, Diego Giacometti, Louise Bourgeois, Maya Deren, Tina Chow, Gertrude Stein.
11. What would you say to a young designer who is starting out? How do you see the world of jewellery developing?
Look at books not Instagram, find a unique perspective that is your own and stay consistent with it. Create a distinct world that your pieces live in, and devote yourself fully to illustrating that world.