Mariposa by George Plionis

Exhibition  /  20 Jun 2014  -  29 Aug 2014
Published: 06.04.2014
Fitzgerald Jewelry
Michael Fitzgerald

© By the author. Read Copyright.

My inspiration doesn’t come just from one place – I find it everywhere. I try to be open in the moment and tap into the world around me – then capturing that moment, translating it into my work.

Artist list

Georg Plionis
An interview with George Plionis

Tell us about you, where are you from, where you are based?
I was born in Streaky Bay a small town on The Great Australian Bight in South Australia – one of the last towns before you drive west across the Nullarbor Plain. My parents settled there after migrating from Greece in the 1960s.

I moved to Adelaide in 1988 to study for Bachelor of Education in Design, which I completed in 1991, but by graduation I had discovered a passion for jewellery and decided to pursue a career as a jewellery designer instead.

By the time I moved to Sydney in 1996 I had established a successful career as a designer. My practice has been very successful in Australia and boasts both an international and local clientele. Bespoke, exhibition and production ranges are characterized by strong concepts, unique design, handcrafted quality and attention to detail. My work marries clean lines, high-end fashion and bold uninhibited street style. Considered fine jewellery in technique and contemporary in style, I work with a variety of materials and finishes that complete each piece and collection.

How did you get into jewellery design?
In my last year of university I met jewellery designer Richard Ivey, who had a studio in the Flinders Rangers. I was completely inspired by his work and lifestyle and realised that this was the career for me.

What do you enjoy the most about creating your jewellery? What motivates you?
Being able to visualise an object and then to successfully create it – seeing the completed tangible piece gives me an enormous sense of accomplishment.

Even more challenging is creating a piece that has come from someone else’s imagination and then transforming that idea into a “real” object. Collaborating with an individual client for a bespoke piece often sparks ideas for future collections.

I love how the design process is so fluid –I can see the object, design it, make it and from there the development of new ideas.

What are the highlights of you jewellery career?
One very important highlight was the decision to consolidate my skills by undertaking formal jewellery training, ‘Certificate in Jewellery Manufacture’ at ‘The Design Centre Enmore, Sydney Institute, TAFE, NSW’. As a self-taught jeweller designer and maker I began to realise my limitations. I wanted to extend my skills in both the handmade manufacture and computer-aided design, which the industry is heavily leaning towards.

During my course I was awarded the NSW State Medal which is a NSW industry award state medal for coming first in the state for the Certificate and came top of the class in each year

I had some incredible teachers, some of who have become mentors. They inspired me and continue to share their abounding knowledge and skill. Finding these kind of people is so rare so I have been very blessed.

What are your major successes and what have been your biggest hiccups? (awards, customers, followers, stockists, celebrities, starting out hiccups)
Successes come in all shapes and sizes. Being able to get a bespoke piece just ‘spot on’ is always a major thrill. The last commission was for clients in Adelaide. Designing the engagement/wedding ring took us approximately 6 months to finalise the design. The piece was fine high-end jewellery, easily a family heirloom, and was exquisite. My clients were beside themselves when they saw it. The piece was exactly the vision they had in their head.

Spying my pieces on strangers or meeting people who covet or have purchased my work is a real pleasure. Seeing individuals enjoy my work as much as I have designing and making it is exhilarating. I recently went to a BBQ and met a woman who I hadn’t met before. Mid conversation she asked me what I did for a living followed by asking my surname. She went on to inform me with a great delight that she had purchased quite a collection of my work. Brilliant!

Collaborating with different designers and makers has its rewards. I have worked closely with award winning fashion designers to make trims, do small collections and developed collections for their runway shows has been a huge learning curve as well as being incredibly fullfilling. These forays into combining fashion with jewellery design have spurred my interest in further study.

Running to the newsagency to pick up magazines or newspapers knowing that my work has been picked up to be shot in a magazine editorial or featured in a story is incredibly exciting. Seeing how stylist interact with my work in editorials and have the foresight to show it in ways that I had never even considered or intended to, is always so inspirational.

Do you have a signature piece/collection that you are known for?
The signature collection that I’d be known for is my deconstructed line that I have been selling successfully since 1999. It was inspired by British graphic designer Neville Brody who was the Art Director of cult magazine The Face. Although it is a production line each piece is handmade and stamped – so it is possible to offer a unique custom piece for a customer.

The success of this collection lies in its simple design style, regular additions of new complimentary pieces to the collection, and the ability for individuals to customise each piece they order with their own words or numbers.

Where do you work and how does this influence your practice?
I work from a gallery space called Gaffa Gallery in the centre of Sydney.

It’s a new space with a retail area for contemporary jewellery on the ground floor and a gallery on the 1st floor, showcasing emerging artists with a new exhibition program every two weeks.

On the 2nd floor is a group of jewellers’ studios. We are all independent practitioners but utilise each person’s knowledge when it’s asked for or needed; teaching each other specific skills, collaborating on exhibitions, information with outsourcing to industry and industry knowledge with regards to finding specific materials. We are all very supportive of each other and although it is a competitive industry, there seems to be a real alliance between all of us.

What inspires you?
My inspiration doesn’t come just from one place – I find it everywhere. I try to be open in the moment and tap into the world around me – then capturing that moment, translating it into my work.

I look at other people’s interpretations of the world and their experiences. I draw from this to evolve my own stylistic expression. My inspiration also comes from other designers’ work and is integral to my creative process.

How would you describe your design style?
I describe my design as being the point where contemporary and fine jewellery meet. My aesthetic is both masculine and feminine. I work with clean lines, classic elements and add a modern twist.

How do your pieces reflect today’s attitudes and beliefs?

My collections and bespoke pieces are contemporary in design but made with fine jewellery techniques. Over the last few years there has been a shift towards this style with people wanting a design, which contemporary in nature, and has fine jewellery elements. These are people who have grown up with contemporary tastes but fine jewellery aspirations. They now have the income to pursue more precious objects. My skill is in distilling these desires into pieces which are unique and reflective of both styles.

What is your favourite fashion trend at the moment?
If I could dress in the caliber of fashion that I love, I’d be broke. High-end ‘fashion’ is much more eco-sustainable but definitely less sustainable to my wallet.

My favourite clothes, the ones that make me feel special, are my Vivien Westwood knitted hooded coat and a black cashmere hoody that I bought in New York. Second to this are my Rick Owen corduroy pants and D&G army boots.

I wish I could dress up everyday but unfortunately there’s jewellery to be made which keeps me in jeans and t-shirts most of the time.

Where do you see your jewellery practice in 10 years?
I look forward to my evolution as a designer and a maker. To continue to explore concepts, develop ideas and view the world with an enquiring eye. My aim is to work on an international platform as a creative director – having creative autonomy, forecasting trends and leading a creative team – for a luxury jewellery brand.

What trends do you anticipate in jewellery design?
Gold will become increasingly expensive, becoming a commodity rather than a standard. People will move towards less precious and more sustainable materials. Looking to local craftspeople for bespoke pieces will be more common rather than looking to designer brands.

I think that computer aided design (CAD) will be more prevalent in jewellery making , however I do not think that it will completely take over the hand-made element that people find so appealing about the pieces they commission and purchase.

I think the use of rose gold and coloured stones will have a resurgence and there will be a trend towards a “handmade” look with organic lines, along with a naive, playful feel to designs.

What’s your favourite thing about/in Sydney?
I think Sydney’s geography is absolutely beautiful. I love the size and that you can get lost in it. The beaches, the attitude – it’s monumental and showy, all about fast cars and money. I accepted that when I first moved here, and I love it!

What’s next for you?
“Tomorrow we do the same thing as every day Pinky … we try to take over the world!”
- Pinky and the Brain


Opening Reception: June 20th from 6 to 9 pm

Business Hours
Mon - Saturday 11am - 6pm
Tuesday 11am - 9pm
Sunday 12 - 5pm
George Plionis. Necklace: Untitled, 2013. Brass, Found Objects, Beads. 1100 cm. George Plionis
Necklace: Untitled, 2013
Brass, Found Objects, Beads
1100 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.
George Plionis. Necklace: Colony, 2011. Sterling Silver. 100 cm. Photographer: Andy Stevens. George Plionis
Necklace: Colony, 2011
Sterling Silver
100 cm
Photographer: Andy Stevens
© By the author. Read Copyright.
George Plionis. Necklace: Butterfly, 2013. Cotton, Shell, Paper, Beads. 50 cm. George Plionis
Necklace: Butterfly, 2013
Cotton, Shell, Paper, Beads
50 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.