Behind the Designs: Jewellery Designer Fernando Jorge
The allure behind Fernando’s jewellery lies in his ability to subvert traditional styles without corrupting them – respecting, referencing and evolving familiar designs like cocktail rings and red-carpet earrings, he creates signature lines and details, uses unexpected stones and materials, but all within the confines of shapes and silhouettes we understand and, more importantly, want to wear.
How did you go from studying engineering in Brazil to becoming one of London’s top jewellery designers?
It was not jewellery that drew me to jewellery, if that makes sense. After studying engineering I went to design school in Brazil, and afterwards looked for a job that would give me the chance to draw by hand for a living – I really like to draw – and I got a job doing technical drawings for a jewellery company. I got a real kick out of seeing my drawings come to life as incredible pieces of jewellery. Seeing them made from the most beautiful and finest materials found in nature I thought; ‘That’s it – I don’t need to look any further. This is what I want to do.”
Tell us about the development of your collections. They seem to flow very naturally to the next one, making your body of work very cohesive despite being made up of several collections…
Each collection references what I’ve done before, what I know. Even my first collection was relevant to what I was doing prior to designing, it was about my heritage, a comment on the factories who churn out souvenirs; carved parrots, ashtrays…I wanted to create something elegant and beautiful using the same stone carving techniques, contrasting bad taste and good taste. I found a guy working in these factories who had no training, no family history in jewellery, and wanted to use him to make my pieces instead of going down the traditional fine jewellery route. I could have done the obvious thing and gone to Germany or somewhere in Europe, but I liked that it didn’t come from a perfect discipline, yet was relevant to my background. When I start designing a new collection I start from where I stopped, so that ties them all together.
Your sketchbooks are immaculate, the drawings are pretty much exactly as the finished pieces are. Where are all your messy workings?
What is in my head is a feeling, rather than an image, and a lot of crap has to come out, stuff I don’t like, before the final piece – as I visualized it – is on the page. On my degree course I would draw things again and again and again, and then eventually the right thing comes out, and I then take time to develop that, to refine it. I feel that design is stronger when it is simple. My craftsmen in Brazil can make up the pieces from my hand-drawn designs and can follow them exactly.
I’m interested in the lack of narrative or need to justify your work with a ‘story’. Tell us about that.
I believe that jewellery can say something on its own, without needing justification for its existence. I have often created moodboards out of a need to justify my work to others, but actually it all comes from a feeling inside my head about what I want to draw.
This is a very instinctive way of designing, I think. Your inspirations also seem very primal; collections based on fluidity, electricity…
Yes. I’m the kind of person that wants to go to the essence of everything. The ‘Electric’ collection came from a feeling that London gave me, and so the references were very elemental. I don’t need to add a story or a narrative to that.