Every July, the little Italian port of Trieste, tucked inside the Slovenian border on the azure Adriatic, crackles into life as International Talent Support (ITS) gears up to host the world’s top young designers. But who exactly are the people who transform the lives of these young winners?
Founded by Barbara Franchin, a remarkable woman who generates enough energy to light up a city—this is, metaphorically, exactly what she did. She turned Trieste into a platform for bold, hip design concepts in fashion, accessories, art, jewelry and photography. The Jewelry Award joined the ITS roster four years ago, with a changing jury of industry experts who are, themselves, legends and luminaries.
And so it is that a clutch of fledgling designers gets to have their work critiqued by an awe-inspiring panel. Maverick jewelry maker Vicki Sarge was a juror this year: co-founder of Erickson Beamon brand and now working under her own name, she has spent over thirty years creating iconic jewelry: “It’s crucial to teach and support the next generation. If you have broken through boundaries with your own work, you must pass it on to keep the cycle of creativity flowing.”
Co-judge Céline Cousteau (filmmaker and granddaughter of explorer and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau) says that what singles out the winners is “dedication to a vision and the ability to adapt and think independently and creatively, while also working within the dynamics of a cohesive team.” For her, it’s not just about the final product—she wants to know about the journey that resulted in the piece of work they submitted.
Emerging young designers “push the envelope for companies” with a creative attitude that’s free from commercial constraints, says designer and co-judge Manish Arora. It is this that makes them so important for brands. In turn, he acknowledges, they have to be open to constructive criticism to grow. The former creative director of Paco Rabanne is famous for using the vibrant colors and traditional crafts of his native India to create his own trends.
Ute Schumacher is the fourth judge in this impressive quartet. Vice President of Swarovski’s Design Center Headquarters, her distinguished career has involved collaborating with names such as Jil Sander, Christian Lacroix and René Lezard. She takes very seriously Swarovski’s core belief that nurturing the design stars of the future is a responsibility and a duty. “ITS is one of the few platforms where young designers can present their work to experts, interact with their peers, and be inspired by the exchange of creative ideas. It also enables us to offer internships, where they learn to use a vast array of crystals, materials and components, and acquire the crucial application techniques.”
So, good luck to this year’s winners, as they step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Read about their reaction to winning the prize in the Interview section of this issue, and remember them, because you’ll be hearing more as their careers take off.
Photography by Gianmaria Gava for ITS.