Design as a form of artistic expression, the fine line separating kitsch from art, the perfect combination of concept and esthetics. Noy Alon, in collection after collection, has surprised us with her distinct interpretation of industrial materials made into delicate works of art. So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins got in touch with her recently and here’s what she had to say.
So Catchy!: Can you fill us in on your career path since graduating from the ‘Shenkar College of Engineering and Design’?
Noy Alon: My first project, which I did for my degree, was contemporary jewellery, nothing commercial, nothing that you’d want to wear from day to day. They were heavy pieces and it was an artistic project. I didn’t even think about them being wearable, I was more interested how a piece of jewellery can be an object and an object can be a piece of jewellery. It can be worn on the body or hand on the wall as a work of art, or sit in a display table. I like maintaining that concept in the same piece.
The second collection was more commercial. I did it on demand for a boutique in Israel that caters to young people with new ideas. They asked me if I could do something more commercial based on the work I’d done for my degree. So I said, ‘Yes, of course!’, it’s the dream of any recent graduate. It took about three months. I spent some time re-examining my own work and thinking about how I could maintain the essence of the first collection in the new pieces. How to turn the big pieces into something that people can wear; how to make them jewels and at the same time works of art, completely artisanal and handmade.
SC!: You use some very specific materials, can you tells us about them?
NA: All of the pieces are made from brass covered in epoxy. After covering the pieces, I sand them to find what’s hiding underneath. I love researching new materials, what I can and can’t do and what I can learn from them. In fact, I think that materials are really my main interest.
SC!: How do you get your work out there? Do you have someone doing the press work or do you rely on social media?
NA: Well, I’ve only just arrived to the labor market. It’s been less than a year, so, I’m on my own for now. I started quickly and haven’t really had any time to build a business or set up the framework for one. And of course I love social media. I use Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
I think that if you do something well, if you do it in a way that works well for you, you can sell what you want. It’s incredible really, I live in Israel, which is a rather small country and there aren’t many clients for my work here. There aren’t large luxury shops, just boutiques. So for me to get my name out there and show my work and do interviews requires a lot of hard work. Social networks are the best way for me because they’re free. The whole world is online and it’s easy to find people, and it’s easy to find me, all you have to do is google my name. For anyone who is right now trying to create their own brand and to show their work, I think that it’s incredibly easy. Of course you need to know what you’re doing since it’s easy to make mistakes, but every day you something new.
SC!: Where do you think your work should be shown?
NA: Well, I think that my jewellery is different. It isn’t a luxury item like gold or diamonds or platinum and it doesn’t fit in fashion because it can’t be mass-produced or made in a factory. It’s a midpoint between artistic jewellery and jewellery made with inexpensive industrial materials, put together by hand. The value of the pieces comes from the work that goes into them, the artistic value. I try to keep my eyes open for good fits for my work, places that have the same ideals, be they shops, boutiques, galleries, museums, places where art is appreciated or places that just want to try something new.
In Israel, it was a huge success to be able to show in that boutique, to be able to present my work to people looking for unique pieces and not just something that you can find in any shop or department store. The pieces have an urban touch, they catch your eye, they’re grey, the colors are very urban. I’ve had a lot of requests from places such as Berlin, from South America, Spain and Denmark. People who live in cities can feel what I was trying to express with the work. Getting back to the question, I try to show my jewellery in artistic, day-to-day, urban places.
SC!: Have you travelled to any of these places yet?
NA: No, I haven’t actually. Last year I showed my work at London Design Week, which was an incredible experience. My pieces were chosen as the best amongst the 25 others that were showing. Unfortunately, the pieces travel without me (laughs). They’ve been to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and now they’re in Lithuania, in a gallery and in February they’ll be in Miami. So they travel quite a bit but for now, I can’t go with them. They’ve got their own passport (laughs).
SC!: Tell us about your creative process.
NA: I love to work with inspiration, wherever it comes from. I love books and literature so it could be a simple sentence, just one line that sets something off. It could be a painting that I’ve seen in a gallery or museum, or even a specific gradient of color, one shade of blue. That’s why I love going to museums, reading and perusing online sites with tons of images like Pinterest. Designers are visual people; we love to see everything.
Inspiration can come from anything but I do have a process. I start from a feeling or an instinct, I see something that interests me and I make an outline, I draw it or write it down. From there I start to build the piece. I decide what it will be, what kind of piece, if it will be a ring or a bracelet. That’s all part of the process of turning an idea into a piece of jewellery.
SC!: What are your plans for the future?
NA: Oh, wow I wish I knew! For the moment I’m going to start working on my Master’s, which should take two years of hard work. I’d like to continue showing my work in galleries and museums as well. It’s an opportunity for me to express myself artistically without having to think about how much something costs and who’s going to wear it. It allows me to do what I want, it’s simply design so I’d love to keep showing. It’s also a way to travel, even though I’m not actually the one doing the travelling, my pieces travel around the world and people can see them, touch them and buy them if they want. I don’t want them all for myself! And of course, being able to live from this is my dream, to live from design.
SC!: As a recent graduate, what advice would you give to students who are dreaming of making a living in the world of design and fashion?
NA: You’ve got to have an open mind from the moment you set foot in school or university. Even if you don’t like some of the classes, you have to learn as much as possible during these years. You’ve got to find your place and be flexible as well as having an open mind because you never know where you’re going to end up. I think that for people in Europe it’s much easier to find places to do internships and to continue studying. In Europe, you’re in the middle of so many different things, fashion, history, etc. I think that you’re quite lucky in that aspect. The ability to take a train and be in another country in two hours is simply amazing to me. I’d love to live that experience.
The most important thing is to be faithful to oneself, to be honest and to find your DNA, discover what you want to do, figure out what fills you. And I would always try to do something new, to do things in a different way, to do something that motivates you. If you do that, you’ll be able to get your message across better.
SC!: Are there any emerging designers that you’d recommend?
NA: Right now there are a lot of new talents in the world of design. Everything is more open nowadays; it’s incredible. People really appreciate design, there are more places for designers than in the past. Maybe people didn’t use to think about it, but now, people around the world want ‘designer’ pieces, from cars to apartments to lamps or necklaces. Some emerging designers that I like are Audra, Marius Janusauskas, Maiko Takeda and Noa Raviv.
All images courtesy of Noy Alon
Layout and Translation by Michael Padilla.
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