Contemporary jewelry has two main characteristics: transferring the concept and expansion of materials. Interview with Banafsheh Hemmati by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 17.05.2022
Banafsheh Hemmati Banafsheh Hemmati
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Banafsheh Hemmati. Ring: Middling, 2014. Silver. From series: Boundary. Banafsheh Hemmati
Ring: Middling, 2014
From series: Boundary
© By the author. Read Copyright.

Design, art, and philosophy are three sides of a triangle and my attitude towards contemporary jewelry are through this perspective.

Tell us about your background. What were your first influences to be creative and become an artist and what has drawn you to contemporary jewellery?
Initially, I studied industrial design. I have been interested in design since I was a teenager. I designed outfits for myself, and then since I couldn’t find appropriate jewelry to match, I started designing jewelry for myself, as well. My passion for art and philosophy takes me to new prospects in life to present myself as a designer-artist. Therefore, I shifted my career from interior design to jewelry design on a large scale and I established my personal brand in Tehran. After my first years of experience, I realized that being limited to design is not satisfactory. Due to my academic education in the philosophy of art, different conceptual aspects became important to me and made it more complete. In this sense, conceptual features of contemporary jewelry became a medium for my intellectual concerns; the entry of thoughts and art into everyday life, because they are not in touch with people’s daily lives. I assumed that wearing my jewelry leads to the understanding of art, for instance, the relation between women’s bodies and jewelry. I never believed that jewelry has just a decorative function for women, and somehow my purpose was to induce women’s power by wearing jewelry. This project didn’t restrict to contemporary jewelry and continued to my sculptures. I believe that my sculptures are my large jewels that are displayed outside the body in the outer or inner space.

How important is networking for you in your professional practice and what are your preferred tools for this?
The concept and meaning of the network differ from the western countries due to Iran’s situation. To me, a conservative designer or artist is meaningless today and this notion of artists dates back to the 19th-century romantics. Technology in its various forms has made us network-dependent, without which it is impossible to continue operating. However, my definition of a network is different from its common definition. In my opinion, apart from the common meaning, it is necessary to pay attention to the network through various disciplines regardless of its common definition and the activity of a designer-artist is interdisciplinary. The epistemological network that arises from different disciplines makes new facilities available for design and expands its domains.

What are your general thoughts on the contemporary jewellery world, (education, market, development...), where do you see chances and where are dead ends?
Contemporary jewelry is a new category compared to other mediums of art. One can say the boundaries of design have expanded in favor of contemporary jewelry. In my idea, it is practical in different aspects and this is because of the direct connection with theorizing. Contemporary jewelry was formed at a time when the boundaries between mediums were intertwined, but it has succeeded to prove itself as an independent medium. Accordingly, contemporary jewelry is a conceptual artwork. The artwork has the capacity to be available in wider social spaces and does not belong to a specific space or class. As an example, for Lola which is one of my artworks in contemporary jewelry with the approach of expanding the materials, I intended to express my manifesto about women as women and carry this in the public. In this perspective, it has a protesting feature. The practical aspect of contemporary jewelry makes it more visible compared to sculpture and painting and it would be active in daily life. Contemporary jewelry may help promote culture more in societies like Iran than any other medium of art.

Thinking about your career, what role do technology and the digital play in your artistic development & communication?
Design thinking has been the most important element in jewelry design all these years of working. According to this principle, technology has facilitated such a process and even influenced thinking and ideation. Technology allows us to execute bolder ideas. In a sense, technology overshadows all aspects of life and makes our world. Technology has made things possible for designers which were impossible in the past. Therefore, design improvement should no longer be considered separate from technology development.

How has your work changed over the past few years and what are you excited about these days?
Geometry has been always my main concern all these years of working in contemporary jewelry. I was born into an artistic tradition in which geometry played the main role. Geometry has had a leading role in the arts in Iran’s art history. I have used this traditional geometry. In the beginning, my artworks were more like an adaption of this geometry like “Architectural Collection” and “Distance Collection” which were created based on my interest in traditional Iranian architecture. Then according to my academic studies in philosophy, I gained a new attitude toward this geometry and I started the appropriation. In a way my artworks in recent years turned sacred geometry into secular geometry, the “Trace of Absence Collection” is an example of this perspective. My Ph.D. thesis is in this field as well, and in that, I have concentrated on the philosophical foundations of geometry and the various interpretations of geometry to use it for contemporary art.