Shop and learn more about Paola Vilas.
1. Tell us about your personal story, where are you from originally? Where did you study?
I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I have always been passionate about Art as much as long as I can remember. I wish I had the opportunity to make a School of Fine Arts but being born and raised in Brazil the education system is a bit more tricky and precarious than in Paris or New York for example for lack of a better alternative I chose to study Design at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro but at the time I quickly felt trapped in the 2D system inherent to drawing. Then I decided in 2012, to opt for a summer course at the Central Saint Martins.
2. Why did you decide to go into jewellery in the first place?
I have always had this need to create things using my hands. Since I can remember, I have a strong connection with aesthetics and a very unquiet mind. I used to make sculptures and draw all the time to express myself. During Design school, I came to realize that I needed to feed that need and little voice that was craving for something more vivid: experimenting with my own hands. It was only then that I discovered a silversmithery course; I had to learn everything from waxing to welding. It is only then that I found myself truly complete. The thousand possibilities of creating small metal sculptures and still being able to use them in the world eyes seemed like a real dream come true.
3. How was the decision to start your own brand? What were your expectations from it?
It all happened very naturally, I used to wear different kind of jewellery that I made for myself at the time and people would not stop asking where I got it from and some would even get to the point that they would pull an order.
Until then I was the only person in charge but soon I was not able to deal with a higher demand and decide to hire a goldsmith. I had already started preparing a business plan, but to be honest I was not really rushing or so.
One day I was painting for a collaboration job with Schutz, and that it is when the Vogue Brasil editor came to me and told me how much she liked my jewellery. I think that was my real kick-starter.
4. Tell us about your brand… how would you define its DNA?
I would say that I try to create pieces that does not look like jewellery but more an art piece that you can wear, adorn. I want my design to be a conversation starter between people. I mainly find inspiration in the art scene of the 20s and of course surrealism, cubism.
Being obsessed with the female organ, women’s body would obviously be the theme of my very first collection. Woman’s body really possesses a sensuality always suggested by the shape and forms that’s defines it. It was more about focusing in the sculptural aspect of the “object”, and then deconstructs its fullness and complexity to get to lines.
5. How does Brazil influence your brand’s aesthetic?
In most of my pieces, I Always make sure to bring the influence of Rio de Janeiro exuberant nature. We live in the middle of an organic beauty, with curves, colours, sensuality, and diversity. When you come to Rio de Janeiro and look out the window of the plane, you have no doubt that it is a strong and beautiful scene happening there in front of your eyes. And that image it is almost mystic, surreal. It’s a bit of that sensation impact that I am trying to personify with my designs.
6. Who is the woman you design for?
I put my energy to create pieces that will make a strong connection to its user. I don’t think in a certain type of woman, but I think that someone who has any connection to the art scene is naturally attracted by my pieces.
And usually the woman or the man who is incline to appreciate my work is because that person understand the story within the piece itself, not just because the piece is trendy but because he or she has a real understanding of the piece itself.
7. What do you want to communicate with your jewels, if anything?
I want my jewellery to be conversation starters, “objet de curiosité” that celebrate the forms and shapes of the feminine but also help women empowerment by asserting their beauty individuality.
8. Which are your preferred materials to use?
I like using silver, gold and in my new collection I felt the need to experiment new materials, such as marble.
9. How do you design a collection? What is your process is it more rational or intuitive?
Every piece is locally handmade in Rio de Janeiro and it is the result of a 100% artisanal and totally intuitive process. The starting point is a strong feeling that drives me to put things in the paper moves a sketch that most of the time. I sketch not only jewellery, but also random forms and shapes that come to my mind and if I like something I resketch it and mould it first using paper or wire to feel the proportions and shapes then comes the hand carved sculpture. After that it is hours and hours of investigation step to make sure that the shape is ergonomic (the Louise Cuff was probably the one piece who required the most hours).
10. Tell us about your latest collection, which was the starting point, inspiration-wise?
The next collection follow on from the first and even reaffirms it. I started designing it knowing that I wanted to experiment new materials and colours but with organic materials. So I decided to start a tireless research on marbles, which are very unusual stones when it comes to jewellery. The possibilities of marble were born together with the pieces shapes.
11. How do you define beauty?
It is kind of difficult to define beauty, because it is totally subjective and somehow related to somebody’s culture. Within my personal vision, beauty is something that brings balance and harmony to your inner self, and turns you into someone compelling and unusual. I do not see so much beauty in extreme perfection, and this is one of the factors that attract me so much with the handmade.
12. How do you define femininity?
I see femininity almost in a spiritual way. I believe that femininity is a very powerful energy that both men and women can hold. It’s a gentle yet extremely strong power.
13. What does timelessness mean for you?
It is the union between the beautiful real and the quality necessary for something to last.
14. Do you have and endless source of inspiration?
Yes, because I believe that inspiration comes from the connections you make. So the more you excite your curiosity, the more visual information you get, the more inspired you are.
15. Which are your favourite artists/art periods? Who (or what) would you say has been your biggest aesthetic influence?
There are a lot!
But mainly find inspiration in the art scene of the 20s and of course surrealism, cubism I would say the surrealist production from painting to sculpture.
For the most obvious names I would say Picasso, Matisse, Salvador Dali, Hans Arp, Brancusi…
Most of my references can be found on my Instagram feed.
16. Which has been the happiest moment in your career?
The present moment for me is always the best.
17. Where do you see your brand in 10 years?
In 10 years I see a brand nationally and internationally established, able to be a world reference not only in design but also in terms of business model because I had managed to bring something really new and meaningful to the world.