LEGENDARY INTERVIEW

Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Eleonora Federici ("EF") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

EF : My parents used to take me to museums and important Italian cities since I was very young. My parents have always loved Art and History, and I was lucky enough to be born and live in the country that is the epitome of it in the world. From a young age I had a passion for drawing and painting, which I abandoned for a while during my time at the classical high school, because this course of study was, and still is, the most difficult in Italy. Classical studies helped me to appreciate the wonderful history of my country. Then I studied Art and Literature at University. My parents had founded the "Marinone" jewelry shop in 1980, and since childhood I have taken part in this world. For me, an Art and Beauty lover, it was almost natural to take up that profession. And I, who have always had a penchant for perfection, could not enter the business without the proper preparation. So, I decided to become a gemologist. Gemstones showed me that Nature can be a huge source of inspiration. Since my first days in my family Jewelry shop, I could express myself creating unique, high-end jewels for our customers. For the last 18 years I have been developing my skills as a goldsmith, and I have learned wax modeling from one of the most talented jewelry modelers in Italy. Finally, I decided to complete my education with an eye on the future by taking a high-level course in CAD and CAM design in jewelry at the Gemological Institute of America: the most prestigious and important gemological institute in the world. This is my background: for me, there is no difference between the intellectual ability to have an idea and the technical and practical ability to execute it. To me, having control over the entire creative and productive process is fundamental.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

EF : It is a need I have always had to create something new. To be creative (to be a designer) is to feel alive, to give meaning to your life and to be constantly stimulated. I think without the ability to create, I would die. Why did I become a designer? Because I was born a designer.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

EF : I became a designer automatically and naturally, I cannot even call it a choice. It is something that comes from within and probably has to do with what my parents have taught me since I was a child. I was definitely born to be a designer, I don’t think it's something you can learn, let alone be forced to be!

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

EF : I’m always inspired by Art and Nature.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

EF : I am far from being a legend. To be a legend, you have to create pieces that everyone dreams of, that speak for you, and that when people they see them, they think: "These are Eleonora Federici's jewels!" I think that young designers who want to become a legend must never give up, believe in themselves, work hard and be professional. And above all, do not stop dreaming.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

EF : A great designer is different from a good designer in that he/she is able to have a recognizable style that stands out and cannot be confused with anything else on the market.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

EF : In my opinion, a good design never goes out of fashion. That means it will always be beautiful, wearable and useful.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

EF : Design is Art. And Art is progress: history has taught us that. Today's world would have no heritage without the great designers of the past, just think of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Van Gogh, Matisse, Rodin... and the list is endless!

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

EF : I would love to design high-end jewelry for one of the big fashion houses like Louis Vuitton or one of the big jewelry houses like De Grisogono. I am sure I can design fascinating collections that convey the soul of the house.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

EF : I have in mind a piece of jewelry that is made up of different parts that can be put together and taken apart to create several different pieces of jewelry, and that can also be put together to create a wearable object, but that is no longer a piece of jewelry in the strict sense.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

EF : It's hard to say... my parents taught me to be humble, but I think that the secret ingredient is simply talent. And not setting limits to your creativity and imagination.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

EF : There are many artists in many fields that have changed the history of art, fashion, architecture, etc. that I admire: Frank Lloyd Wright, Mary Quant, Rinaldo Gavello, Marc Jacobs... and they are not the only ones.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

EF : Since I love all my designs, I cannot really choose one over all the others. But "The Hummingbird" has a special meaning for me because this is where I really started to understand what my potential is, and it led me to enter and win an A'Design Award (one of the most prestigious international design awards). It's a great design because it has all the qualities that I think are fundamental to a quality piece of jewelry: the curved and elegant shapes, the color, and the fact that it's unique and inimitable.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

EF : I would have definitely stayed in the field of art, I would have had a creative job for sure. For a while in high school I was going to be an architect, then I was going to be an art conservator. Who knows?

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

EF : Design is the ultimate frontier of art, it is what enables people to bring forth new ideas, new objects, new concepts. Design is research, beauty, poetry, emotion, progress.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

EF : My greatest supporter was myself. And I think that's the secret of success: you have to believe in yourself. And my family, which has always been proud of me and believed in my abilities and skills.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

EF : My innate creativity, my meticulousness and a strong sense of duty.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

EF : The real obstacle for me is that it is sometimes difficult to be understood and appreciated. That is why "creativity needs courage", as Henri Matisse said. Then it was a challenge to learn the new technologies (CAD / CAM) after working so many years with the traditional methods and tools. But with my strong will I was able to master them, and now I have a powerful, exciting tool in my hand.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

EF : The perfect containers are competitions, exhibitions and special industry fairs.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

EF : I am already working on new projects, unique, high quality jewels that will allow me to fully express my creativity while creating a unique piece for those who want to wear and show their uniqueness.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

EF : I would love to be the front woman of a famous jewelry house, like Lucia Silvestri, the Jewelry Creative Director of Bvlgari.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

EF : They expect unique pieces that best express the facets of their personality and tastes, in order to stand out from "mass-produced" products and have something personalized.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

EF : Create new styles that make people live closer to nature and raise awareness of the most important issues for a better world: Peace, preservation of endangered species, respect for nature. This seems trivial, but if the world continues to be blind to these issues, I don't know if humanity will really have a future.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

EF : I am working on some new exclusive jewelry pieces that represent my vision of the world and jewelry.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

EF : The Hummingbird is definitely the project that gave me the biggest satisfaction: not only did it embody exactly what I wanted to represent (symbolize the coexistence of humans and fragile, endangered species), but it had all the characteristics I look for in a jewel.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

EF : More openness to new designers and new talents, who can make their own contribution to the graceful fashion and jewelry companies.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

EF : I believe that the world of collaborations is one of the most interesting aspects today, allowing you to blend heritage and vision of the future, combining different DNAs to arrive at new creative ideas.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

EF : It depends on the project…sometimes few days, sometimes weeks or months.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

EF : Sometimes I start with a sketch on my IPad. Sometimes my mind is my canvas: then I try to memorize the idea and start developing it just imagining it in my head. Have you ever seen the TV show "The Queen's Gambit"? She was literally able to see the chess move themselves on the ceiling... I can see the shapes and colors flowing in my head...

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

EF : It is Henri Matisse’s motto: “creativity takes courage”.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

EF : I think that art is not subject to trends, but that the creation of unique and timeless objects is the ultimate goal.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

EF : Technology is a great friend of creativity because it allows you to see objects in 3D and to modify them without wasting materials. In this sense, I am sure that this is the way to a more sustainable approach, without any waste.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

EF : I use CAD software like Rhinoceros7, sculpting software like Z-brush, sketching software like Sketchbook. I still love and use the traditional wax carving method and all the tools associated with it.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

EF : These are certainly the three variables that have the most influence in the realization of a project and that, when combined in different ways, can really make a difference.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

EF : I would like them to ask: “how did you come up with this idea?”, “Why do you feel the need to create?”

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

EF : I think: "I want to buy it!!!". If I were rich, I would spend a lot of money on beautiful design products...and everyone should! It is like being a patron of a talented artist. Would we have the Cappella Sistina in Rome if the Pope at the time had not been Michelangelo Buonarroti's patron (and that is just one of thousands of examples)?

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

EF : My ideal partner would be smart, skilled and talented. Probably younger than me so I can compare ideas and have new and fresh inspiration and ideas. I believe in co-design because I always listen to others: multiple points of view are always better than one. And you always, always have something to learn from everybody (that's how my mom taught me).

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

EF : Understanding the needs of the customers of my family's shop is certainly a very practical starting point for new inspirations. Secondly, I love to see the jewels worn by celebrities on important red carpets like that of the Cannes or Venice film festivals or the MET Gala. But also a person I meet on the street wearing something special can trigger a whirlwind of ideas in my head!

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

EF : None. I really try to be inspired by everything around me and not imitate anyone.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

EF : Training, training, training!

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

EF : Marina Abramović, Maria Callas, Gianni Agnelli, Elizabeth Taylor, Pablo Picasso

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

EF : Seeing your work recognized is certainly a good feeling and gives you the strength and courage to continue along this path. It certainly can't be said that I'm famous today, but I'm working on it!

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

EF : I love all bright colors, Pontremoli in Tuscany, spring, my own creation “Fire” Ring (with a rare big mouthwatering orange tourmaline). I am not really fond of just one brand: it really depends on the Creative Director.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

EF : I participated in the 3rd Italian edition of Masterchef and it was a wonderful experience, where they told me that my dishes were like jewels!

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

EF : Looking around me every day, being grateful for everything that surrounds me and having the opportunity to see through my eyes all this beauty and somehow be able to make it "mine".

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

EF : I think it was: I was crazy! When we went to my grandmother's house in the country, in the middle of winter I would dive into the chicken bowl of water with all my clothes on (you can imagine how happy my mother was!). I also liked to eat soil and rose petals... My parents had to tie the dresser drawers in the house with rope to prevent me from building a ladder to throw myself down! And I loved to color with crayons... I used tons of paper and paints as a kid!

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

EF : This is very difficult to predict. The world is changing very quickly, especially after the technological revolution.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

EF : I am a person in love with life and nature. In addition to my work as a jewelry designer, I love to cook and prepare something special for the people I love. I think these aspects are the ones that characterize me the most.

LEGENDARY DESIGNER

ELEONORA LIVES BY THE INSPIRATIONAL WORDS OF HENRI MATISSE, “CREATIVITY TAKES COURAGE.” FASCINATED BY THE ARTS AND NATURE, SHE BELIEVES THAT DESIGN CAN EXPRESS THE BEAUTY OF THE HUMAN SOUL. BUT TO DO SO, AN ARTIST MUST BE BRAVE AND BOLD ENOUGH TO SHOW IT TO THE WORLD. THIS BELIEF BEGAN FOR ELEONORA AT A VERY YOUNG AGE. SHE GREW UP AT “GIOIELLERIA MARINONE” (PAVIA, ITALY), THE JEWELRY STORE FOUNDED BY HER PARENTS ANNA MARIA AND DANIELE IN 1980. SHE SPENT YEARS SURROUNDED BY LOVE AND ENCOURAGEMENT IN AN ENVIRONMENT RICH IN INSPIRATION AND CREATIVITY. THERE, SHE LEARNED AND IMPROVED HER SKILLS, AND HER LIFELONG PASSION FOR PRECIOUS STONES WAS BORN. AFTER GRADUATING WITH HONORS IN MODERN LITERATURE WITH A FOCUS IN MODERN ART, ELEONORA MOVED TO MILAN TO FURTHER PURSUE HER PASSION FOR ART AND JEWELS. SHE STUDIED GEMOLOGY AT THE “ISTITUTO GEMMOLOGICO ITALIANO,” OF WHICH SHE IS A MEMBER. SHE IS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE “ASSOCIAZIONE ITALIANA GEMMOLOGI” (THE ONLY INSTITUTION RECOGNIZED BY THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT.). HER CONTINUED CURIOSITY AND LOVE FOR JEWELRY LED HER TO FIRST LEARN HOW TO CREATE MODELS BY CARVING THE WAX BY HAND, AND THEN TO LATER ALSO ACQUIRE BENCH JEWELRY SKILLS. IN 2021, ELEONORA MOVED TO CARLSBAD (CALIFORNIA, USA) WHERE SHE COMPLETED THE JEWELRY DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM AT THE WORLD-RENOWNED GEMOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF AMERICA (GIA). INCORPORATING THE MOST ADVANCED, CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGIES IN DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING, ELEONORA PROVIDES CLIENTS WITH SUPERIOR TECHNICAL EXPERTISE AND PRACTICAL SKILLS, WHILE ALSO PRESERVING THE TIES TO CLASSIC ITALIAN HANDCRAFTING TRADITIONS. HER DESIGNS REFLECT A BEAUTIFUL BALANCE OF HISTORY, CRAFTSMANSHIP AND STATE-OF-THE ART TECHNIQUES. ELEONORA HAS SPENT YEARS HONING HER SKILLS AND HER ARTISTRY HAS FLOURISHED. SHE HAS THE CONFIDENCE TO BOLDLY EXPRESS HER CREATIVITY THROUGH HER WORK. SHE IS FIRMLY DEDICATED TO QUALITY AND THE CREATION OF UNIQUE, ONE-OF-A-KIND PIECES THAT ARE TRUE, WEARABLE PIECES OF ART.


The Hummingbird Single Earring

The Hummingbird Single Earring by Eleonora Federici

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