What a week it’s been in Trieste. Every July since 2002, the International Talent Support contest (ITS) takes place in the beautiful Italian town of Trieste, perched at the northern tip of the Adriatic. Its prestige resonates throughout the world of international design, which regards it as the pre-eminent launch platform for aspiring designers. No go-ahead young designer worth his/her salt would turn down the chance to pit their strengths against those of their peers from literally all over the world. This year, 935 contestants entered, and the jury had the tough task of narrowing it to 41 finalists across four categories: ITS Fashion, ITS Accessories, ITS Artwork and ITS Jewelry.
The town is used to this annual jamboree, and chatter is about little else. Sometimes it has to do with the famous visitors who make up the jury. The ITS Jewelry award, for instance, was judged by Iris van Herpen, fashion designer; Vivienne Becker, jewelry historian and designer; Kim Young-Seong, Head of Fabrics at Chanel; Harry Eisenberger, Head of Jewelry Design at Swarovski Professional; and Ute Schumacher, Vice President Design Center Headquarters Swarovski Professional. Swarovski has many years’ experience of nurturing new talent—developing the next generation is so important that it ranks among the company’s principles. The fact that it sponsors the main prizes, therefore, should come as no surprise.
So imagine the sheer delight when, at the grand finale on July 16, Kazakhstan’s Tatiana Lobanova and Germany’s Sari Rathel picked up the Swarovski Award and ITS Jewelry Award, respectively. Each was awarded a handy €10,000, as well as forging new friendships and contacts in the design world.
Sari’s jewelry reflected the ITS Jewelry Award brief by embodying the words “gender, neutral, strength, resilience, solidarity and unity.” With pieces that echo the thinking of gender theorist Judith Butler, she created jewelry that allows the wearer to decide how to reflect their gender each time they put on a piece. A fascinating and original exploration of gender identity.
Tatiana, meanwhile, explored quantum physics, which, as we know (of course we do!), is all about the mechanisms of energy and matter. She extended this concept to the mechanisms that govern our feelings and dreams. The resulting jewelry pieces have an androgynous and retro-futuristic aesthetic with a distinctly Star Wars feel.
Look out for Tatiana Lobanova and Sari Rathel—this is just one step along their respective journeys. We’ll be seeing a lot more of them.