Organic Textures: Flawed and Full of Life
14 August, 2015
The jewellery that designer Pia Amat makes are little portraits of nature – a selection of unexpected geometries that are a projection of energy and an invitation to happiness.
Everyone who enters Pia Amat’s workshop/store is invited to dream: the colours and stones, the warm and friendly manner of the shop assistants, the windows filled with little mementos and inspirations fashioned in metal and the slow steps of customers seeking a gift to make someone happy – everything here is an invitation to think that anything is possible.
The designer enjoys what she does and has created a space where jewellery is just the start of a moment of happiness that can be longer or shorter depending on each person. “I create to bring peace, to encourage people through beauty. My logo is that small is beautiful and beauty lies in simplicity,” she says from carrer Verdi in the city of Barcelona. This is where she also has her workshop, where the illustrations in a small notebook on a wooden table are turned into metal and embedded stones. “These are pretty old,” she says, flipping through the pages, “and these have still to be finished – they’ve just come back from the smelter”.
We are in the back room of the store, where couples who are going to get married can meet Pia Amat and together design the rings she will make for them. “They sit out in the courtyard, have a cup of tea and share their ideas. It’s a lovely process,” she smiles. In addition to her own designs (“the ones people like most but which require the most time”) the firm also sells ancient pieces from tribal and ancestral cultures. “I’m an adventurer. I like to travel and discover things along the way. I love it!” she says, thinking about her next destination. In a few days she will head to Hawaii, specifically the islands of Kauai and Maui. “They are very special places on earth where I will have time to find inspirations and learn about their cultures. I plan to gather wood and stones to make my new designs,” she explains.
Learning more about the world is the intuition that has accompanied her for many years and what led her to leave her former profession behind and launch a business in the world of jewellery-making. “I used to be an attorney specialising in criminal and prison law and the handling of international adoptions, but I felt the need to work with my hands. I wanted to move from a more abstract world to something more tangible. I wanted to make a contribution, but by doing something different,” she says, reflecting on her early days as a jewellery designer. She combined the two jobs through to 2006, when, she says, she realised that, “life is short and you have to take advantage of it to do what you most want”.
While we talk, part of her team (there are a total of four people to serve the public and handle incoming commissions) are waiting to hear about the filming of a promotional video for the firm. “Our goal is to boost our brand image and promote the work we do through online channels and we have employed an expert team to work with,” Amat explains. Until now the work was all done inhouse, focusing on the products, investing everything into starting up the retail outlet and serving the customers. Now that this has begun to bear fruit, she is turning her eye to further steps. “We are now focusing on projecting the company via the online store and boosting marketing and the Internet positioning strategy”.
The firm’s growth will be deliberately measured. Pia Amat acknowledges that she draws great enjoyment from the small size of her business. “I’m still having fun. I started out in the Sarrià neighbourhood of Barcelona and a lot of my clientele is from there. I don’t know whether I want to end up as a wholesaler. I would lose part of the control over the quality of the pieces I make and, above all, part of the essence involved with customer service”.
The door to the shop opens and Pia Amat smiles. She knows the person walking through the door and is happy to see them again. She will attend the customer personally, talk to them and recommend which of the many pieces winking in the window will make their intended recipient happy. The smile on her face makes it plain that she enjoys this part of the process of attending people directly and encouraging them to dream with one of her designs. This sale will also contribute to one of the various solidarity projects the firm is engaged with in Africa and Asia. “Around 10% of the sales from one of the collections are targeted at social projects. We also plant a tree and open a well with each of our pieces,” she says.
Pia Amat has one store at the moment but she doesn’t rule out opening another. Although growth is not the priority, she knows her designs are selling well and would like to make the most of it. In addition to the online sales project, she also distributes some pieces to shops in Mallorca, Granollers, Sabadell and Girona. Further afield, she has sold her creations to jewellery stores in Switzerland, Norway and London and received offers to work on markets including Brazil and Mexico. “But they are all small, artisan spaces with a personal touch like ours,” she stresses. She has also had some experience with major clients, specifically the fashion and accessories firm Natura, for whom she designed an earrings collection.
Finally the conversation turns to manual labour and the pleasure of working directly with metal and stone “to offer beauty”. Pia Amat once again fills her story with details. She talks about the people who set the stones in the pieces at the Barcelona foundries, the polishers, the wax, the tree bark in which she carves out her designs…this is what she enjoys most.