If you are looking for discreet jewelry that yet make a loud statement with their intricate design and clean, geometric lines, then Isla Fontaine is the company you are looking for. We sat down with Venice-based designer to discuss her diverse background and artistic inspiration, and the unique nature of her jewelry.
How did you decide to switch from Communication Science to Art History and, eventually, Jewelry Design?
It has been a very fluid process. I got my master’s degree with a thesis on film and later I developed a passion for films, while working at the Venice Film Festival and as a curator for Circuito Off Venice International Short Film Festival. Then I began to study photography, and I curated some photography exhibitions in Paris. I studied a lot by myself and I finally landed on one of the most important contemporary art spaces in Venice. I’ve been working there for six years. Thanks to the dialog with artists, I have developed my own creative language, and to me jewelry is the thing that can better link my two passions: art and fashion.
Venice has always been a major art center. How do you feel the city’s creative energy has contributed to your inspiration?
Because beauty is all around you all the time! You see it and feel it when you wake up in the morning and you carry it with you even when you go to sleep. It is very easy to be inspired, if you live in a city like this. The power of the past gives you a lot of energy to create something new.
Do you have a favorite art movement, one that you feel has inspired you the most?
I love Minimal and Conceptual Art and Russian Suprematism. They inspire me a lot.
Do you remember the first piece of jewelry you designed?
I was in Brussels for an exhibition and, while putting the paintings on the walls, my attention was captured by a plastic object. It was probably part of some adhesive tape. I thought it would look great in silver as a piece of jewelry. It all started from that moment. That piece of jewelry is now in my next collection; it is the Hera bracelet.
How have you evolved as a designer since your first collection?
I learned of lot more on materials: how they are molded, their potentialities and weaknesses. When I design, I respect those aspects but at the same time I try to push my craftsmen to go a little bit further, to experiment with new techniques in order to create something really new. All pieces seem to be very simple, but actually a lot of time has been spent on them in the primary phase.
Your collections are all about geometry. Could you elaborate on that?
The potentiality of geometry is infinite. What I really like of that is the fact that a geometric piece of jewelry goes well with almost every outfit.
I feel that for your AW ’14 collection you took a more minimal approach. Could you tell us a bit more about your latest collection?
The five stories presented are linked together through clean lines and a usual alternation of full and empty volumes. I wanted to play by repetition in order to create a collection with strong rhythm and pace.
For the “Sol” story, I looked to the previous line “LeWitt” dividing it in smaller cubes in order to raise it to a set of delicate and optical jewels.
The inspiration behind “Odile” is famous architect Odile Decq, to whom I wanted to pay tribute, through the use of black jet. “Carlo” is dedicated to another important architect also; the story represents one of the recurring shapes of Venetian Carlo Scarpa, such as the circle inscribed in the square.
For the story “Kreuzberg” I was inspired by the city of Berlin, by the rigor of its filled with history buildings, but above all by its ever-evolving modernity.
Finally, “Fishbone” is a story that, as the name clearly suggests, represents a stylized fishbone.
You mainly use precious metals and stones. Would you ever experiment with other materials?
Why not? At the moment, I am focused on giving a precious but still affordable product, but maybe in the future I could develop a collection made, for example, of bronze.
Is there a certain moment in your career you feel particularly proud of?
When I saw by accident Raffaella Carrà, one of the most famous actress, singer and TV presenter in Italy, on TV wearing one of my pieces. I could not believe it.
What are your future plans?
I want to develop the network of retailers exhibiting in China and Brasil, and I would like to work with fashion designers and houses.