Silvia Furmanovich is known for creating jewelry and art objects that embrace color, are made with a variety of organic materials, and created with time-honored artisan techniques from different parts of the world.
In addition, the Brazilian jewelry artist is recognized for creating her works through partnerships with highly skilled and often unknown craftspersons from indigenous regions of Brazil and around the world. Through these partnerships, she not only produces important works but draws attention to these artisans. For example, when Furmanovich wanted to create a collection with bamboo, she spent time in Amazonia living with the indigenous people and working with the skilled craftsmen. When she wanted to created a collection using the lavish ornamental inlay technique of marquetry, she ventured to Acre, Brazil’s westernmost state to work with skilled artisans who mastered this technique.
Her travels are not limited to her home country. She went to Japan where she created jewels, accessories and art objects through a number of traditional Japanese techniques and materials including woven silks (nishijin), Japanese textiles (nerikomi), woven bamboo, and a technique made by sprinkling wet lacquer with gold metallic powder (maki-e). It’s the same story for many of her other collections, where she used the materials and traditional crafts in places as far flung as Egypt, Italy, India and the American West.
Sustainability is more than a marketing term for Furmanovich. It is the essence of her work. She combines precious metals and gems with organic materials that are recycled whenever possible. She also tries to leave the people she works with in a better place than when she arrives by, among other things, providing an international spotlight on the value of these crafts, so these artisans can earn a better living from their skills.
Her creations have received critical acclaim and are highly sought after. A month ago her first book was released in the U.S., “Silvia Furmanovich” (Assouline), written by Beatrice Del Favero, a luxury brand consultant. The coffee table book is the first in-depth look at Furmanovich’s career. What Del Favero was able to do was reveal 20 years of Fumonovich’s creations and present it in a monograph that describes through words and photographs the complex nature of the brand in an organized format.
Below is an interview with Fumonovich in late December by phone while she was in Egypt, where she talked about her book and her career.
Why write the book now?
I think it’s like a circle and ends and starts in the same place. When I began in 2000 it was a hobby. I think after 20 years I now have the opportunity to show my work to a larger audience. I know it’s a very unusual time to launch a book (because of the coronavirus pandemic). It’s a compilation of 20 years of my work. Most of the pieces I haven’t seen for a long time. We chose the pieces that are very iconic for the brand.
I was ready to launch the book in beginning of year but we decided to just release it in Brazil first where we spent 15 days showing it to private groups. At the same time we moved to a new atelier. It was a good experience.
We also are a family business. My three sons work with me. It was a realization for the family to show our work and how we create the pieces to our clients and others.
How did you meet Beatrice Del Favero?
I met her four years ago while she was training our salespeople and we became friends. She went to Brazil and we went to Amazonia together. She fell in love with the brand. She went very deep in my collection and photographed our archived lines back to the beginning of my work. The book shows this timeline divided by collections and countries. Even for me it was a surprise to see everything organized by time and collection.
What do you want readers to learn from the book?
They are going to have a view of the techniques and craftsmanship of my work. I don’t create the works alone. I always partner with artisans who create these techniques. I learn about these techniques and use these techniques to create jewelry mixed with gold and precious stones.
Why refer to the book as a monograph?
Because it’s like a review of an artist; I consider myself an artist that joins with other artists and artisans to make something new. We develop something together using the same technique at a small scale. It’s a new experience for many of them to transform their craftsmanship into jewelry.
What are you most proud of in producing this book?
I’m most proud of being able to see my all of my work in one place. I’m so involved in my work that I don’t spend time to reflect. To see everything together like this is very rewarding. When I first saw the book and had it in my hands, it was very different from seeing it on the computer. When I touched pages and saw the large pictures I felt very proud.
Is there something you wish you could have improved with the book?
We always can do better. It’s very difficult to create something that has never been done before. My inspiration is from others as I’m always in search of new techniques that I can adapt to jewelry. If I could make another issue of the book I would include the Bamboo Collection. When I develop a technique I keep using it in different interpretations. With Bamboo I want to incorporate this technique and material in new ways.
Do you describe yourself as an artist or designer?
I work with a collective group of artists and artisans. I consider myself an artist who joins all of this together. I think my skill is to join everything together with stones and gold techniques to make something that’s never been done.
How much of your work is inspired by your family?
My grandparents came from Italy and worked with gold and jewelry. My father was a goldsmith. I grew up in this environment and it’s very rewarding for me to continue his work.
How much of your work is inspired by your country?
Brazil provides lots of inspiration mainly through nature and with the craftspeople all over Brazil. Mainly I go to northern Brazil where there are a lot of materials for inspiration. Brazil is a huge country with many natural resources and I try to immerse myself in those environments.
How much of your work is inspired by your travels?
I travel with my mind but when I go to a place we stay with the craftsmen and I try to do these crafts with my hands. This contact is very important. My plan is bringing all of these people through their crafts to Brazil. We learn something and they teach us something.
What are your personal beliefs and vision?
I try to use mostly alternative and sustainable materials. We have to go on this path to enhance what’s handmade. There’s beauty in where it came from and how it is made with your hands and the community of people who contribute to these crafts. We try to make a difference in this community to provide better jobs with the possibility of a better life. All of this work we have been developing together has a social impact with the goal of improving the health of these communities. This is the most important thing.