This week in our ‘Behind the Designs’ series, we meet new jewellery designer Flora Bhattachary, fresh from her win at jewellery boutique EC One’s ‘Unsigned’ Awards where we were on the panel of judges. Recently graduating from an MA course at Central St Martins, Flora’s debut collection is entitled ‘Lubhati’, the Hindi and Sanskrit word for ‘Desire’, and reflects the evocative tales Flora uncovered whilst researching her ancestry. Tracing family members back to 18th century South Asia, Flora explored historical artefacts, personal stories and objects, and brought these together to develop the designs. Overlapping elements of different cultures reveal themselves gently through different parts of the individual pieces, fusing Islamic, south Asian and Flora’s own London roots to create an aesthetic as exciting as the melting pot of London itself. Highly sculptural, showing influence from 1920s Cartier and the jewellery designer Suzanne Belperron, her pieces are hand carved in wax by Flora and then developed further using CAD or other methods, and the stones all hand carved to immense precision in the UK. Complex, undulating designs reference geometry and are undeniably precise, but radiate with opulence and richness, the colour palette as deep and seductive as the stories Flora has uncovered. Evidence of this is seen in her beautiful sketchbooks, which showcase her drawing and sketching skills and obsession with geometry and pattern, as well as a depth of research and detail that only an MA can reveal. Ideas of migration and the resulting emotional journeys are explored; materials that have ‘travelled’ to and from South Asia are often used as the focal point of a design. This rich and diverse debut collection manages to balance wearability with a strong story and a beautifully crafted aesthetic that feels authentic and steeped in history, yet also contemporary and fresh. A perfect balance. Available from The New Craftsman now and from EC One in the new year.
Jewellery Designer Flora Bhattachary