VIRGINIE FANTINO – REFERENCES & PROJECTS
Virginie’s sensitivity and curiosity are really contagious. I wanted to learn more details about artists and jewellers she admires. We also talked about her projects and what her activity brings her. This last part will conclude this rich and nice interview with the talented Virginie Fantino.
Could you please mention jewellery designers you like ?
I really like the work of Salomé Charly, My Sen and Monochromatiques. I love like Lucy Luce’s work, she is also in Marseille. Her jewels are really poetic and she is an amazing person. I can also mention Julie Deccuber who makes jewels with pieces of plates she cuts. There are many other persons.
Can you mention your favorite artists in other fields ?
I like many artists. Shows by Pippo Delbono – choreographer and director – are very touching. There is intimacy in all his projects and it shakes me. I really love Giuseppe Penone, Lucio Fontana, Calder or Rousseau. In litterature, one book really left a mark when I was launching my project. It is ‘100 years of solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Márquez. Suddenly, there were fantasy and magic entering daily life and the complexity of human relations, it was inspiring. There are many stimulating pieces.
What are the necessary qualities to do your work ?
Curiosity because it allows to constantly learn. It seems that I am continually learning. You must not rest on our laurels. It also requires passion and to feel we respond to this activity. Do not hesitate to start. Your relatives often mention an eventual failure but it is part of the process. You try, you make mistakes and you learn. You must want to discover this work and go for it.
© Agathe Maillol
Is there a piece, created by another designer, that you would have want to make ?
I never really felt that. My feelings are quite paradoxical. I admire a lot of pieces but I never think I could have make them. For example, Penone’s ideas are touching and I would have loved to have them. However, at the same time, they belong to him. Regarding jewellery, Salomé Charly makes a wonderful wooden work, it is amazing but I couldn’t do it. It represents her universe. I have never wanted to make the piece of another designer.
Could you have been attracted by another job ?
In any case, it would have been a manual job. My sister is a ceramist and my father is cabinetmaker. Each member of the family works with a different material, it is quite funny. I would have stayed in this universe : clay or textile for example. I like to have a field of predilection.
What is your biggest everyday challenge ?
You must find a balance between production and creation. I need to live from my work. When it works, I am very happy, I produce more pieces but I have less time to make prototypes. Therefore, I make prototypes again but I don’t produce anymore so my treasury decreases. I must be careful. I sometimes need to think about expanding my company or subcontracting but I like to work by myself to control every step of the process. There are many questions, everyday. I want to keep a human scale activity while earning a living.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work ?
When I see a stranger wearing one of my jewels. There is also the relationship of trust and a form of intimacy with some customers. For example, I make wedding rings and each couple confides about their wishes to allow me the freedom to make jewels. They trust me. It also happens with unique pieces. Some persons bring me an important object to make a jewel. Recently, a woman brought me an American walnut shell which has a different shape compared to French walnuts. It is a charm she carries around in her pocket and she wanted me to make a necklace. I warned her there was a risk of modifying her shell. I needed to sand it to flatten it and she trusted me to do it. It is a really meaningful object for her and I thought it was very beautiful to be entrusted with this shell. I sometimes also prepare gifts. A person follows a project from the beginning to offer it to a loved one. These moments make me feel good.
What are your projects ?
I would like to keep working this way. However, at some point, I will have to choose my favourite pieces to keep producing them. Until now, I was adding pieces to my catalog every year. I was making jewels about the botanical theme but I now have too many references to keep producing them by myself. I fin dit hard to stop making some collections, it will be my challenge next year. I like the idea of having timeless collections. My objects are worn as amulets or intimate objects. I don’t follow the collections schedule (spring-summer, autumn-winter). I make a collection of five to ten pieces by year which is very few. Therefore, I have time to make unique pieces on order. I like this approach and I hope to keep doing it this way. I fight against the jewellery fast consumption. Clients need renewal because pieces are not strong enough. I don’t want to make new jewels every six months. I prefer to work with wholesalers who reach clients I cannot directly reach but who come back.
I try to inject poetry and stories into jewels to provoke emotions within each of us that will not disappear in six months. Working on sensitivity makes sense and it generates different pieces. I admire designers who are able to make a gesture for one piece, only because it is beautiful but it is not my way to work. It is a bias I really thought about. When you work with wolesalers, it is complicated because they ask for a new catalog every six months. I don’t have new pieces every time. I couldn’t do smart and sensitive pieces if I had to renew myself every time. Jewels became an accessory that we change all the time, I don’t see them in this way. I’ve always had boxes full of my treasures (lemon seeds, shells, etc.) and I notice that many persons appreciate it, they also di dit during their childhood but they forgot about it. My pieces are a way to remind it, it is precious and it feels good for everyone.
Which designer would you like to see on L’Envers du Décor ?
Photos : © Virginie Fantino except when © Eric Massua is mentioned. Photographs provided by Virginie Fantino and published with her approval.