Since launching her eponymous brand in February 2019, Kiala Kanzi has proven to make spontaneity and naturalness a shield against the impositions still present in the jewellery industry. “I want to push the limits of what it means,” explains the Barcelona-based designer, for whom life is a spiral in which movement can take two different directions. After having converted this symbol into her insignia, the creator’s challenge consists in adding conceptual value to the accessories beyond aesthetics and beauty. Spiritual power, body adaptation and sustainability at all stages of the development process are an inherent part of her new collection, Forever Untitled.
“World citizen and multidisciplinary artist”. This is how you present yourself in your manifesto, evidencing your rejection of borders and restrictive impositions. But who is really Kiala Kanzi?
(Laughs) I guess for that you need to meet me in person. I’m not a big fan of telling people who I am or what I am because I might wake up tomorrow and see things about myself differently. We learn and grow every day.
You work in jewellery, where you say to have found the best form of expression. But you have previously worked as a craftswoman, goldsmith, photographer, dancer and model as well. How did you get into the world of jewellery?
I guess I would say ‘I expressed myself through’ rather than ‘worked as’. I knew right after school that I didn’t want to go back to that kind of system. I wanted to express myself freely, use my hands and create. I took my time to explore different craft(wo)manships such as shoemaking, tailoring or carpentry, and I realized that I needed to find a material that was more spontaneous, more flexible. Metal is flexible even if it doesn’t really seem like it. I don’t have to plan out every millimetre before I start working. The piece slowly evolves from my initial idea to the actual piece through the making process.
As a multidisciplinary artist, I guess that all these previous experiences coexist in you. How would you say these different creative fields influence each other? Do you feel that they all belong to a single global concept?
Totally! I think they are all part of my universe; all part of me. It’s a little like I mentioned before: in the end, it’s all about expressing yourself. And for each matter, finding the right means to do so.
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You are currently based in Barcelona, ​​where you work and unleash your imagination. What connection do you feel to the city? What influence does it have on your project?
The first time I came to live in Barcelona was in 2015 – this was before I started my studies. I came for one year as part of an internship at a small goldsmith workshop in Gracia. Since then, my love for Barcelona started. For my senior year of school, an internship was mandatory, so I decided to go back to that same workshop where it all started; it was amazing. With their help and support, I created my brand. In the end, I extended my stay and I even worked on my thesis from here.
But I have always been going back and forth and travelling around. I basically lived a nomad life for the past two years, and I didn’t want to commit myself to any particular place. It’s been just recently that I decided to stay here.
The spiral has become the emblem of the brand. We find it in your pieces, and it is even the logo of the project. What does this symbol mean to you?
The spiral is amazing. That all was part of a process as well. I got a tattoo with the symbol of an ‘unalome’ in Barcelona in 2015. I loved the meaning and, yeah, then just got it done. That symbol has also a spiral. And I guess I kind of grew into the tattoo. With time, it started making more and more sense. It’s like its meaning became a part of me just through life and experiences.
Then, one day, I found a sketch by Albrecht Dürer in the Four Books on Measurement from 1525. That symbol looked like my tattoo and it was a spiral. I started researching the meaning of this sketch and the meaning behind the spiral, and everything made sense. Everything is a spiral. Good and bad things, big and small things. Movement can go in two different directions, and go inwards and outwards. And apart from that, you can find it everywhere in nature. The dance of dervishes feels like a spiral to me! And so many other things. It’s just beautiful.
Your work is strongly influenced by your roots and life experiences, which is in part why it’s constantly evolving and accompanying you along the way. How is the process from having the original idea or thought to making (and selling) the final piece?
It depends on the depth of the piece, or maybe on its purpose. I think jewellery can be very conceptual, then it can only be beautiful. Sometimes, the meaning is only there for the person who is wearing it; and sometimes, it’s just about finding a new way of how to wear it and where to wear it on the body. Depending on that, there is a research, a lot of thinking and re-thinking, sketching, colour matching, finding the right materials, and so on.
“I’m not that kind of brand that has a target group and creates for them; I’m more an artist that creates.”
You decided to name your brand after you: Kiala. Do you feel that it has become one more part of your body or personality?
I guess all of this melts together even if you want it or not. I am my work, and my work is me. That’s the most real it can get.
Jewels take on a life of their own, far from being artificial elements produced on a large scale in a mechanized way. Each of them is unique and different from the others. What are the most outstanding characteristics of Kiala Kanzi’s pieces?
I want to push the limits of what jewellery means, where and how we can wear it on the body. I love developing pieces with/for stylists because they often look for bizarre and innovative pieces. And since it’s me sitting in the workshop, we can immediately try and see what works and what doesn’t.
Apart from that, it’s the invisible value, the history humans have with jewellery, what it stands for in different societies, in different times and places – jewellery has always meant a little more than just ‘beautfying’. I believe in the spiritual powers a piece can have, and I know some of my customers do too. And I am very, very thankful for their trust!
Rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings… You offer different types of accessories, in addition to a customization option in which you give new meaning to treasured heirlooms. Tell us about this innovative service.
I think jewellery carries a certain emotional value; we really want to wear the piece. But it might not fit either because of the size or the style. So that was the easy solution to this problem – and that is also the beauty of metal. You can reuse, repurpose and recycle.
Forever Untitled is your latest proposal, and one of its mottos is “We construct our realities. We create what we see and then we feel.” In addition, the action is accompanied by a short video. What idea do you want to reflect through this collection?
This collection is in a constant state of flux, meaning that I don’t want to contribute to the fashion standards of seasons and collections, but rather go by my own and organic rhythm. I will add, take out, or modify pieces whenever I want. That title also implies that it’s not the name of the collection that will describe the look or inspiration for all the pieces, but rather that each piece stands for its own. With its own name and also poem.
Your connection with art is evident. Apart from having developed yourself in other creative fields, you collaborate with artists such as Candela Capitán or Albert Riera Galceran. What attracts you to work cooperatively?
I think it’s beautiful to work together with people from different fields. Everyone brings their know-how and vision to the table, and you build one beautiful thing out of it. It’s also an interesting challenge melting two visions, two materials, two ways of working, or even just two personalities together. People make you grow.
Multiculturalism and diversity seem to be two of the pillars of the brand's philosophy. Who is Kiala Kanzi for? Do you think of any specific person while creating?
Of course, that is important. It’s actually inevitable because that’s how I grew up. I’m not that kind of brand that has a target group and creates for them; I’m more an artist that creates. And then if you like it, that’s amazing! 
Where can we buy your jewellery?
You can find it online on I’m also working on the catalogue to also get some pieces into stores. And then, obviously, I do custom pieces, so just write me an email!
And finally, what are your next projects?
There is an exhibition coming up, a collab I did with an artist from Berlin called Isakov. Another project I am working on is with a good friend of mine, Anjana Berger, who does beautiful garments. We worked together on two projects already, and I can’t wait for this one! And at the same time, I’m trying to make some space for a few personal projects coming up.
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