Q&A With Multidisciplinary Designer (Including Jewelry Now), Gisue Hariri

by New York Spaces

Gisue Hariri, of multidisciplinary firm Hariri & Hariri, expands on her and sister Mojgan Hariri's wildly popular jewelry collections for Atelier Swarovski. Turn to page 74 of New York Spaces Spring Edition of "The Goods" to see Hariri & Hariri's fabulous design of an Upper West Side town house.

NYS: What brought about the collaboration with Atelier Swarovski?

GH: We did a one-of-a-kind chandelier for the Swarovski Crystal Palace at Art Basel Miami in 2006, using the crystals available from their catalog and the relationship grew from there. They initially invited us to design lighting fixtures, but my sister Mojgan and I suggested we design a collection of jewelry instead. This allowed us to design & develop an exclusive new crystal shape for Atelier Swarovski, which was the central focus of our A/W-2010 accessories collection. Named ‘Kryptonite’ this crystal is reminiscent of rocks chiseled from a quarry which carry the life force and power harnessed from the centre of the earth. It is also a fictional element from superhuman mythology because it gives one superpower from its sheer size and design—it is almost supernatural! There are supersized rings, statement bracelets, necklaces and pendants. This collection was SOLD OUT and we went on designing the current collection for the Atelier Swarovski Autumn/Winter 2012/13!

NYS: Had either of you thought about designing jewelry before?

GH: We like to make jewelry out of everything we do. The jewelry collection began with a testing sample and mockups of our chandelier, and I noticing everyone holding them against their body, as if it was a necklace or a belt buckle or a clutch because our chandelier looked like a piece of jewelry. So we started designing the jewelry as a piece of art or wearable architecture. I tell everyone that I love my buildings so much that I wear them and carry them with me. The fact that both of our collections for Atelier Swarovski are sold out is a testimony to our vision and the strength of our designs.

NYS: What is the most surprising aspect of the whole experience for you both?

GH: It was a great experience to prove that “Good design is Good Business” as Steve Jobs demonstrated. I know everyone wants an iphone but I didn’t know everyone wants Kryptonite Jewelry as well! They both have magical powers!

NYS: How did your work as architects affect the designs of your jewelry? They are very architectural in shape!

GH: For over 25 years, we have focused on a holistic approach to design, dedicated to research, experimentation, and creating innovative structures through the use of new concepts, materials, and technologies. Our approach is rooted in a firm belief that design is fundamental to improving the quality of life, and with an integrated, unified approach it can become a total WORK OF ART. So everything we do is a continuation of the same philosophy. Every structure, environment, object, and furniture relates to one another, like the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto to name a few. What is interesting is now we are told that our buildings look like our jewelry! But all our work is inspired by nature and its geological formation of rocks and crystals.

NYS: Did living in a fashion mecca (New York City) influence your designs?

GH: Absolutely, New York’s energy, cutting-edge design, out-of-the-box approach inspires us all the time.

NYS: What materials did you use? We absolutely love the color palette! Why did you focus on these moody colors?

GH: Thank you! We have used lead free metals and silver so far. The colors are very earthy—rock and desert colors. They are Sahara, Golden shadow, & silver. I think it was not only a creative choice on our part, but these subtle almost iridescent colors are what really worked for the pieces and our fascination with geological formations. We saw them, and we knew they were the ones for us.

NYS: Which is the piece you most love and why? Who would you most love to see wearing your jewelry?

GH: We were so excited to see our first collection on the Grammy's in 2010 worn by Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum. When I think of the younger generation, I'd love to do something really experimental for Lady Gaga. Of our most recent designs I would love to see them on the First Lady Michelle Obama. Or perhaps a classic international actress like Sophia Loren or Catherine Deneuve, both of whom have phenomenal grace and personal style. And of course they both are living legends!

NYS: Can we expect another collection soon?

GH: Yes! We have designed our own custom collection of more organic yet experimental forms. We hope to officially launch the new collection in 2013. Stay tuned.

For more information on Gisue & Mojgan Hariri or their firm, Hariri & Hariri, please click here.