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Jewellery has traditionally played a supporting role in fashion. However, the designer Jacques-Elie Ribeyron gives a twist to the conventional conception, who credits the jewellery design as a medium for creative experimentation with no limits. Ribeyron’s background in industrial design and his approach to the concept of jewellery give a very unique aesthetic with a utilitarian look to his pieces. Earrings made of leather strips with metal rings or rhodium bangles are close to be considered sculptures at small scale.

The designer is not only distinctive because of his work; he also presents his brand's public face as a social response. For his Spring/Summer 2017 lookbook, the designer used models diverse in age, gender and ethnic background. He hopes that the pieces will be worn by both men and women at any age.
Hello Jacques-Elie, tell us about your story.
I grew up in Montreal and did the first part of my studies in industrial design there. Then I went to Lausanne to complete a master’s degree and moved to Paris in 2011, where I am established so far.
What was the reason that made you turn into jewellery design? 
After my graduation I started to work in furniture design. At some point I started to feel frustrated, as I started to get in the work of many artists and sculptors and I felt more interested in art and fashion at large than in contemporary furniture design. I was introduced to sculpture quite young. My older sister’s husband was a marble sculptor and friend of Viliano Tarabella, she had a lot of passion for both their work. I got deep into Tarabella’s work and as well as many other sculptors and artists. Just to name a few of them, Ken Price, Hans Copper and Eduardo Chillida.
What connections do you find between your training in industrial design and creating jewellery?
I am still interested in industrial design, especially in the professional office furniture, lights and – it may sound a bit weird – professional restaurant kitchen material like Robot Coupe. I find their products amazing, even their designs. I am also interested in ‘90s lightning and material produced by Waldmann, Siemens or Erco, but also for the old decorative Fontana Arte of the Gio Ponti era. Some aspects of these very different worlds can be combined into fashion and into jewellery.
The way we produce all these lacquered organic bangles, rings and chokers is similar to sculpture process at a smaller scale. We do a rough shape by hand using plasticine and try it on the body. Once it fits well, we use computer software to reproduce the shape, although we could also scan the pasticine shape. Then it is printed in resin using printing machines, and after it will be lacquered by an external company, as a car part would be made.

That could explain why you have this very particular way to interpret the present trends: the hoop earrings and chokers. Do you think jewels can be utilitarian after relating them with industrial design?
I do not think they should be. I rather think they should stay decorative.
 Creating precious pieces with 3-D prototypes is still quite shocking. What is the purpose of using these modern printers?
These technologies are increasingly being used in the production processes of many industries, as you don’t need to pay for a mould and also save some time. Once the file is sent to the printer, it only takes a few hours to have a physical geometric object in your hands
Do you think 3-D printing will replace traditional methods such as goldsmiths? What do you think about that?
They can replace some of the handmade work in various fields and it always leads to the same dilemma: progress versus keeping human craftsmanship and jobs. However, gold and silver smiths will never be replaced by technologies, as they do too many different tasks, and the machine doesn’t have this flexibility so far.

The materials you use are quite uncommon in jewellery design, such as polyurethane, resins and leather. It gives your designs a rustic and industrial appearance, as well as unique. What do these materials offer to your creations?
I started to make earrings out of it as I was able to do the prototypes in the workshop, and have the metal rings made by the jeweller who works with me. Same for the resin: I was good with 3-D software, so I used 3-D printing. I think it is more about what I had access to, but I also think that it is interesting to leave the traditional materials and try different things.
You said in another occasion that your designs are unisex and for everybody. I love the idea that I could share jewels with my boy! Do you think you have a target, even if it’s not on purpose?
I do not have a defined target. I think jewels can be worn by young people as much as seniors. Same for bags and accessories. Even though, garments are touching a younger audience, perhaps.
Would it be fair to describe your designs as punk, as I saw in headlines of some magazines?
I do not think the designs can be qualified as punk but would be happy to see punk kids wearing some of my designs, even if I doubt they would.

As your last Fall 2016 collection, you are continuing the theme of collaboration. This time with Lukas von der Gracht, the Spring/Summer 2017 capsule was launched separately in an art gallery. Tell me about this new collab and how was it different from the previous ones.
Luki is a friend before a collaborator. He is somebody with a lot of sensitivity and a great vision. We have many positions and thoughts in common. The dialogue between us is very easy.
What do you find interesting about working with other artists?
It brings something new to the brand for a short period of time.
We can actually see Lukas in the lookbook. What is special about the family that you show on it?
My mom is a journalist and a writer, and when I grew up I saw her very engaged with social matters related to youth, society, and health. I believe in the strength of people and especially of young people and women. I take example from movements created by groups of Palestinian and Jewish women who had some family killed by the conflict and, instead of turning their feelings into hatred or vengeance, they get together and fight for teaching respect and positivity to the youth, so all this can stop at some point. Just human being to human being. I believe a lot in this, and the family thing of the lookbook tends to illustrate this idea.

Jasmina Avellanedas
Helene Fandeur
Maxime Imbert
Roxanne Doucet (TRIPTYQUE Agency)
Make up
Jana Kalgajeva
Patrick G. Nadeau
Paul Barge (Elite), Emmery (Rockmen), Maude Van Dievoet, Marina Damjanovic

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