Sunday, May 4, 2014

subtle imperfection | An interview with Alicia Hannah Naomi

So first of all tell us a little about yourself. Who is Alicia Hannah Naomi?

I'm a contemporary gold and silversmith from Melbourne, Australia. I'm a lover of dark fashion and dark music. I'm fascinated by science; by quantum mechanics and the implications quantum theory has toward how we explain the universe. My weaknesses are leather jackets, ankle boots, and soft cheese. I'm an earl grey tea drinker and a honey hater. I smell like Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather.

When did you first get involved in jewellery making? How did the idea & concept of your brand come to fruition?

I've worked around contemporary jewellery since 2003. From 2006 I began dabbling in making my own jewellery - self-taught, and discovered that once I really found my voice as an artist I didn't have the practical skills to take my work to the place it needed to go. I enrolled in full-time study and became a qualified contemporary jewellery in 2013. Over the years I've worked hard to cultivate a broad and complete aesthetic vision for my lifestyle, so my brand is simply an extension of that.

 How would you describe the jewellery of Alicia Hannah Naomi and where do you draw your influences for the label?

The pieces are dark in mood, imbued with earthly yet austere textures as if shaped by the wear of time and natural erosion. Their shadowy tones and asperous surfaces are offset by smooth, brightly polished interiors that speak of my gold and silversmith training. My currently collection incorporates hand-cast resin 'crystals' - miniature mountains I have hand-dyed as a homage to the the stark majesty of mountainous landscapes, which was the major inspiration for the works.

 Who are some of your personal fashion & style icons?

I really don't focus on having 'icons' anymore. Fashion is an artistic medium, and these days I try to take most of my style inspiration directly from the artists. What inspires my choices in fashion often comes directly from the designer - their runways, their look books, their vision for their artwork.

How would you describe your creative process from idea to execution?

I start out by sketching out ideas, usually rough forms, developing and reworking them... but ultimately pen and paper isn't my ideal medium. Usually my hands seem to know how to transform my vision directly into my modeling material. I model my pieces in wax and have them cast - I find this method best for achieving the complex surface textures in my pieces. Sometimes I will combine cast and forged elements depending on the way the design demands to be engineered.

 Who are your favourite designers and labels and is there any one designer you would love to collaborate with?

I've always admired the work of German label Obscur, who's collections focus heavily on fabrication and texture; if I had the opportunity do a capsule collection with any label it would be them. My favourite fashion designers are Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Yohji Yamamoto.

 Have you ever had any celebrity clients? Is there anyone you would really love to design a piece for?

I recently created a piece for Mariqueen Reznor, vocalist for post-industrial band How To Destroy Angels. The ring, which features a rocky facade and capped by a hand-cast resin 'glacier', was inspired by their track Ice Age. Mariqueen is a big supporter of my work and I've had the pleasure of making several pieces for her and her husband, Trent.

 Do you do any custom work and if so can you tell us about it?

Fulfilling orders for my collection work keeps my hands on the bench, but I live for artisanal work. Creating one-of-a-kind pieces keeps me engaged with my medium emotionally as well as physically, so it's extraordinarily fundamental to me as an artist. My most common artisanal work is for wedding/engagement rings, but there are many special occasions that a one-of-a-kind piece is ideal for - a special birthday, anniversary, or a graduation. One-of-a-kind work is a celebration of a one-of-a-kind moment and to me it's the highest honour. 

When new clients approach me for a special piece it's because we have a mutual understanding for aesthetics. It's a collaborative process but ultimately they've chosen me because they're invested in the same vision I am - so works usually evolve quite naturally. A new client will get in touch with me and give me some background information on what they'd like to order - what kind of piece, what the occasion is, what kind of metal they prefer and if they need stones. I have base prices for artisanal works but ultimately the materials will dictate the price so I need as much information as possible before I can quote for a piece. Turn-around time depends on my schedule but I usually recommend allowing up to eight weeks for full design and production on an artisanal piece. 

 When you are not designing what can we find you doing? 

I'm in my head a lot when I'm designing, so when I'm away from my bench I try to get out of my head and into the head of someone else. I love reading good fiction and watching artist documentaries.

What can we expect from Alicia Hannah Naomi in the next 12 months?

My current collection will be part of a presentation opening on May 5th with fellow Melbourne jewellers Julia DeVille and Redivivo at Fallow in Queensland called Virtually Yours. In September I'll be launching a 5-piece capsule collection in collaboration with SOME/THINGS S/TUDIO in Paris. And somewhere in between I'll be releasing my next collection. No rest for the wicked.