To get the inside track on how they pick a winner and their advice for future jewelry talents, we caught up with Miranda Konstantinidou of KONPLOTT; Roxanne Assoulin, CEO of Lee Angel; Isaiah Kincaid, VP of Guess Jeans; and Paolo Giacomelli, one half of the power duo behind Iosselliani, who joined Founder and Director ITS Barbara Franchin in Trieste to judge the finals.
When four top designers joined forces to judge the 2015 ‘ITS JEWELRY Award in Partnership with Swarovski’ and the ‘Swarovski Award’, it created a unique opportunity to gain exclusive insight into the current industry zeitgeist.
Were there any disagreements between panel members during the judging process?
Isaiah: Although it sounds less entertaining, the group was really very cohesive.
Paolo: Yes, the jury was an interestingly diverse mix of designers, but we were of the same opinion on who should win.
So, what was it you were all looking for in a winner?
Miranda: Of course the designs have to be aesthetically pleasing, but we were also looking at the concept, how credible it was, and how well it was executed—the technique had to be as good as the idea. If a person presents him/herself well, this will also help. You need to put forward a coherent concept of why you did what you did.
Isaiah: It’s true. They could have the best idea in the world, but if they don’t present it properly it’s always lost in translation. That’s something they can learn from this process.
Paolo: Some may not give their best because they are intimidated by the competition. But, good presentation will come with experience, which is what this competition is about.
Roxanne: Craftsmanship and concept are important. It’s jewelry, not art, so I need to be able to see it as translatable into something that I could wear. We don’t hang fashion on the wall.
Paolo: I agree. I was born a craftsman, so technique is very important to me. This opportunity to see how young talents are handling their materials made me confident about the future of design, because they were really, really well made. I joined the jury because I wanted to see new talent.
Isaiah: Yes, I came with an open mind.
Roxanne: If you have an open mind you can be inspired by anything. They say that you’re either growing or your decaying, but you never stay still. I always want to see more. I’m like, “Show me, show me!”
What advice do you have for aspiring designers?
Isaiah: Design what you’re looking for—I couldn’t find the leather goods I wanted in the marketplace. And don’t try to do too many things. Focus on one category. I started with belts. That focus helped me to get into great stores like Bergdorf Goodman at the beginning of my career. Also, don’t become too ethereal about your ideas. Fashion can be about fantasy, but it also has to be about something you can live with.
Roxanne: I would add that internships and apprenticeships are often invaluable. That’s where you really study the craft.
Isaiah: And never give up on your passion. My career in design didn’t start till I was in my thirties.
How do Swarovski crystals inspire?
Paolo: I think it would be impossible to create beautiful fashion jewelry without Swarovski crystals. They offer the opportunity to express so much.
Miranda: Their clarity and sparkle makes them special. They always enhance and transform your designs.
Roxanne: Yes, they have a pull—there’s something magical about a crystal. It’s the closest thing we have to a diamond.
Isaiah: The amazing thing about natural crystal is that it’s one of the oldest things on earth, formed through pressure over millennia. But, it’s seen as a futuristic thing at the same time. Swarovski crystals are a bridge between the past and the future, making them an integral part of the world of design. And they’re only going to become more relevant.
Any final words on this year’s ITS jewelry awards, and on the future of jewelry design?
Roxanne: I think the zeitgeist is architectural and sculptural. And I think we’re going to start seeing more pieces for the ear.
Miranda: I so enjoyed mixing with colleagues and people with a genuine passion for design. The ‘ITS JEWELRY Award in Partnership with Swarovski’ and the ‘Swarovski Award’ are serious in intention, playful in ideas, and full of hope for the future.