Interview: Coomi's Wearable Art
Growing up in Mumbai, jewelry designer Coomi would pick up random beads, flowers and whatever else she could find to create her pieces. Years later, a thesis on jewelry for her textile degree was her way of sealing a lifelong bond with her passion.
"Wearable art," says Coomi, "is how I like to think of my designs." Her distinctive juxtaposition of precious and semi-precious stones in elegant settings is inspired by remote cultures — influences the designer gathered in her many travels across India.
A special event at AsiaStore this Friday, October 28 will showcase Coomi's Fall 2011 collection. Blending rose-cut diamonds and precious gemstones handcrafted in 22-carat gold, the collection's distinct motifs and delicate details trace an ancient story molded with modern craft.
Asia Blog interviewed the designer to find out about her creative journey.
You were raised in Mumbai. What influence has the city had on your design aesthetic? What kind of jewelry do women in Mumbai generally wear?
There are people from all walks of life in Mumbai. It is a never-ending array of colors, smells, chaos and beauty. It would inspire even the most uncreative person.
What is your earliest memory of jewelry?
My earliest memory of jewelry came from women all over my hometown. I would walk in the streets with my parents and see women adorned with jewelry. From the fruit sellers, the sweepers, the maids in the homes — every Indian woman was covered in jewelry from her head to toe. Their clothes may have been torn but they still wore jewelry and looked magnificent.
What was your earliest brush with jewelry design?
At a very young age, I knew I had affinity [for] designing jewelry. I would pick up random beads, flowers and pretty much anything I could get my hands on to craft jewelry.
What kind of metals and stones do you work with?
I work with high-karat gold, rose-cut diamonds and all kinds of stones — from amethyst to zoisite and almost everything in between.
You define your jewelry as "wearable art." Can you tell us about your artistic influences?
Being an art history student and a textile designer I am inspired by everything around me. The people I have come in contact with, nature, architecture and textiles.
Your designs incorporate the latest techniques with inspiration from remote cultures and ancient textiles. Can you tell us a little about your design process?
When I see a beautiful stone, or something inspiring, I immediately reach for playdough, which I always carry with me. I mold my designs and then I sketch them and try to incorporate ancient craft techniques into the design.
What is your most cherished personal piece of jewelry?
All of them. I loved every piece of jewelry I have designed, but if I had to choose just one, it would be the Antiquity boat pendant.
Highlights from Coomi's Fall 2011 collection:
"Luminosity" necklace. Reminiscent of a celestial body, the 20-carat gold piece is set with flat rose-cut diamonds that radiate energy in all directions.
"I was inspired by the flow of movement in shapes such as coils, spirals, wires, circles and ovals," said Coomi of her gold Eternity earrings, set with rubies and rose-cut diamonds. The interconnected wires are designed to evoke unity while circles and ovals are representative of a dynamic force that creates balance.
Part of the Antiquity collection, this gold bracelet is inspired by art from the ancient world, before the written word. The symbols in the design allude to an ancient past and are created to inspire a sense of discovery.
The 20-carat ring from the Eternity collection is inspired by the flow of movement in shapes such as coils, spirals, wires, circles and ovals, and the rose-cut diamonds naturally radiate.