I noticed that you don’t describe yourself as a jewelry label but rather as a somehow “object lab” that explores transfiguration in human beings, substances, and the relations between the two. Can you expand a little on your worldview as creators and designers?
By being immersed in the workshop I usually work in, I have been able to see the importance of being close to the production processes. It is an opportunity that our profession offers us. There we find similarities, answers, and we can expand our vision of the world. Understanding the material and its behaviour helps the process by being more organic, less forced. Once you work on it, the way it’s supposed to, it gives and instead of the material working for you, it works with you. Like a guide, which it is telling you what the most convenient approach is to get the piece you want.
It is a constant listening to the world from another place. I think there is a responsibility to share with the world the world that one sees. This process can inspire a more just or kinder society at least. Currently, given the design and production processes, there has been a loss of approach to observing and getting close to the transformation of matter. I find it a pity to lose direct work with it, since I believe that creators have the sensitivity to touch these other places that expand the ways in which we are in the world. Defining XAN as a jewellery brand limits me in the possibilities of exploration that I have. That is why when using the word ‘object,’ I try to expand the scope of research topics that interest me such as pause, silence, contemplation, and play.”
Where does your passion for investigating the relationship between an object and an individual come from?
When I was little, I remember destroying objects – burning rulers, cutting up combs, painting and repainting the walls of the parking lot of my house. This led me to develop an awareness of the potential for transformation. There can be pain, but also joy, poverty and abundance, destruction and creation. The idea of a constant transformation led me to want to observe and understand my own transformation in the different stages I go through, perhaps in a search for meaning in my existence. This curiosity led me to study industrial design, where I could expand my vision of the things around me, but I always felt that the design processes I learned limited me due to their need for perfection. -Jewellery and sculpture are spaces that allow me to play in wider boundaries. The way an object acts organically at a certain moment can show us how to position ourselves in the world (since the object does not have a thought process, it simply exists). The exercise of contemplating an object in its environment requires an energy that is not so common nowadays. I would like my objects to be a motive for doing so, since we are increasingly oversaturated with information, moments of pause have become short or obsolete in people’s lives, stopping in everyday life is a luxury. It is a task that involves pause, silence of the mind, suspension of activities, and it is not about forcibly finding meaning, we simply need to observe and feel, involving ourselves intimately with it. Then we can use the object as a mirror. Objects (not all of them) help me connect with the world, and the passion for investigating them is more of a desire to know myself.
Your design approach is often embracing impermanence and natural shapes and textures. Who or what are your main inspirations?
I began to investigate different philosophies that contrasted with the way I reacted to the suffering caused by changing forms. The Chinese idea that speaks about what lasts or persists is dead, and that vitality is rather shown in the strength of transformation and change, gave me another vision in terms of what I learned or how we act in the Western world. That is why I let my creative processes be as transformative and free as possible. Essays like “Water and Dreams” from Gaston Bachelard have given me clues on how to approach matter through a more poetic form. Regarding the use of shapes and technology, I admire the work of Iris Van Herpen, the constellation of shapes in Arje Griegst’s sea, the philosophy behind Eduardo Chillida and his way of creating concepts such as silence through sculpture, the curves applied in Noguchi’s materials. I always imagine Art Smith’s pieces as a song and the spectacular work of French jeweler Jean Vendome and his way of integrating complex materials into a single object in a harmonious way.
Similar to your perceptions of transformation, so is your work, an ongoing flow process rather than exact adherence to an initial plan. How would you describe your working methods and beliefs?
Initially, I used to create from a fixed idea or design, pushing strongly to convey something through it. This discourse made me feel that the pieces did not come from me, but rather, I was translating someone else’s idea. I have realised while doing more pieces that the process brings me more joy rather than making a statement about something. This brings up questions for me about whether objects must serve a function or can they just exist. Jewelry can be useless objects or objects loaded with symbols and meanings, they navigate this duality. In having a lack of meaning and existing on the body, without being anything, they transform and mold themselves to each body, in each space they adapt. When they appear as symbols, they help us create links between people or with the jewellery itself. When I have a concept that I want to investigate, I like to nourish myself through my senses and then begin to refine it through getting into silence, and that is where forms usually emerge, often in visions. Sometimes I simply play with the resources I have, and other times I use a meditation method called unification. When I do this, I feel that things don’t come from a mechanised mental process, but from an emptier place. Then I bring them to paper and eventually to production, where they will very likely change completely. By allowing for constant transformation, I have encountered problems in my process when I must stop. In Mexico, we have an expression called “duro y dale,” which means we are constantly pushing something. When I am working on a piece, I am often “duro y dale, duro y dale,” this infinite stubbornness makes it last a long time in the pieces. Fortunately, there is always someone who tells me to stop or the object itself breaks, ending the cycle.
How would you describe the target audience to which you aim your products?
Anyone, really. I would like my products to exist in different environments. When someone asks me what a form means, I often ask them back, “What does it mean to you?” and their imagination starts to fly, saying it’s a sea, lava, etc.
Other times I tell them it’s nothing and they look confused, or I start playing with things I see in that moment. Some product names come from people who saw forms in each piece and thought it was a good idea to create a connection between people.
Other than your collection selection, you offer personally customised items. Tell us a bit about this sort of working process and the client’s level of involvement once you work on a collaborative piece.
Custom projects are the ones that excite me the most, often starting from scratch or from an idea of a client. I have found that this type of project creates a deeper and more emotional bond. Symbols and meanings are created to help us connect as individuals. We start by talking about the client’s ideas, their preferences, some textures, and then I ask for images, videos, and materials that connect or remind them of something related to the piece. Here is where the fun begins, when I start designing the piece, I try not to get too involved with the story, but rather with the images or material that the costumers share with me. For me, it’s an exercise in listening to other places. Eventually, I propose 3-4 design options in a drawing, I like to use drawing as a presentation tool because it opens up possibilities. After this we may have some sort of idea of what the final piece could look like. Once the design is accepted, we begin working on it, and during the process, I try to keep the clients informed of what is happening with transparent communication. This process takes around 2 months, as I like to give time for change. And once the piece is completed, it’s ready to be delivered.
Your pieces are produced in Mexico as a result of various collaborations with local artists and craftsmen. Tell us a bit about the nature of your conjoined work.
It’s true, each piece is created by different hands. I design and create prototypes, and eventually work on them more thoroughly at Alberto Portilla’s jewelry workshop, which has a familiar atmosphere. Over the years, we have built a friendship, and he has allowed me to be close to the processes, which I am grateful for. It has been a wonderful experience to be close to someone with so much experience. In addition, at the workshop, there are Ismael, Andrea, and John who are in charge of the lapidary work, and other people who are responsible for setting stones, gold plating and such. For me, it is important to connect in a deeper sense with those who work on my pieces. I have always felt welcomed at the workshop, and I find it beautiful to be able to create an everyday intimacy, as it becomes not only a production space but also a space for vulnerability and friendship.
Tell us about one particularly inspiring collaboration you’ve had.
I worked on a short film with director Kevin Vásquez, who is part of a production company called Poema de Amor. It was incredible that he introduced me to his team, who are also his friends. Each one of them is incredible at what they do, they are a group of talented people all together. The first time I saw Kevin’s work was on Instagram, and I was deeply touched by a video or GIF he had posted. At that moment, I knew I wanted to do something with him, so I wrote to him. It took a whole year from the first time I reached out to him to work together. I told him the ideas I had, but I didn’t want to be too insistent on my concepts. I wanted it to be more of a meeting of worlds. He made a proposal for the short film called “Susurros” (“two girls create a physical and emotional bond through jewelry. Throughout the film, they are linked like the reflection of a mirror”), and I trusted what he was proposing and the people he wanted to work with. We didn’t have any personal contact until the second day of shooting because I was traveling, and when I arrived, all I did was observe. For me, it was an experience of letting go of total control and allowing the other person to use my pieces to showcase themselves. I was very happy with what was created, and it inspires me to continue working with such talented people without having to control everything.
What are your main production methods and favorable materials to work with?
The pieces are handmade using traditional craftsmanship. I use a lot of wax casting because I enjoy the process of sculpting it, and I find the lost-wax casting process magical. The sculpted wax disappears in a soft mold with a hole, which allows it to escape when heated. Then, metal is injected into the mold, the soft mold is destroyed, and the piece is born. I have always been drawn to sculpture, and working on a small scale suits my body. It’s important to me that my body feels comfortable and fluid when I’m working. I like working with metal, especially silver because it is a noble material that can often be melted down and reused. It’s a fun experience, and I find myself easily immersed in this process. When it comes to the metals and stones used in the pieces, I try to use Mexican materials such as obsidian, abalone shell, quartz, and mother pearl.
You emphasise sustainability, which aligns with your worldview of transformation as an inspiration for your creations. How is your sustainable agenda practically being reflected in your work?
I see the issue of sustainability as an opportunity to be more conscious in our relationships, both in the use of materials and in our interactions with other people. We live in a world with production and consumption systems that harm nature and humanity. Being a designer in Mexico also means being surrounded by social problems, and I would love for all raw materials and processes to have the most environmentally and socially friendly impact possible. However, in jewelry making, the truth is that many times you don’t know where the stones or metals come from. I try to do as much research as possible on their origin, but there comes a point where you just don’t know. Taking a completely radical stance personally doesn’t seem like the solution, but we can take small actions that make the process more sustainable, such as choosing to make a delivery within the city by bike or car. In the world we live in, simple and everyday choices are what can truly create habits that will organically lead us towards more sustainable consumption and production.
Is your approach towards design also reflected in your everyday life?
Absolutely, I am never where I thought I would be. I have a mobile life, constantly moving from one place to another, which brings about changes at an ever-increasing pace. This situation sometimes makes me feel uneasy, as if I don’t have a fixed place or something that really ties me to a space, I get the sensation of floating everywhere.
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Photography/Video: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Jewellery: Xanagore / @x.anagore
Design pieces: Situer Milano / @situer_milano
Interview: Yasmin Krauskopf / @yasmin_skn
Assistants: Alice Lipizzi, Fee-Marie Loebel / @strafiko @feetasticcc
Video Soundtrack: Polkavant – Selenauta
Model: Ksenia Lifanova at Elite Models / @kksenialifanova_ @elitemodelworld