Submitted by COF on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 17:45.
Our fifth Q&A introduces you to Bande des Quatres, the collection dreamed and designed by Erin Wahed and produced by her mother Janis, an expert goldsmith. We are drawn to Bande des Quatres beautiful illusions, graceful lines and inspired stories. Learn more about how Bande des Quatres was conceived, erin's guiding inspiration and the magic behind this mother-daughter collaboration.
Chariots on Fire: How did the name Bande des Quatres come about?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: Bande des Quatres is french for 'band of four'. The idea came from 'Van der Rohe', the first piece in our inaugural collection that runs across all four fingers.
Chariots on Fire: Are you influenced by a particular era or style?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: As a graduate of NYU, majoring in photography, I learned to push the boundaries with my photography. Inspired by the abstract elements of the universe, my photography and the designs that gave life to Bande des Quatres were heavily inspired by the Bauhaus movement, specifically Lazlo Moholy-Nagy's philosophy of learning by experimentation.
When researching the first collection, the tie between the Bauhaus and architecture was so strong that the seeds were planted for Collection II while we were working on Collection I. When working out the designs for the new collection, our focus was on the wearability, the weight and the contrasting finishes, which in some cases take longer to achieve than the whole construction of the piece.
Photo by Erin Wahed
Chariots on Fire: Your pieces are named after architects and Bauhaus designers. How did their work inspire your designs?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: For both collections, the pieces are named after an artist that inspired the piece. In the case of Collection I, the pieces were named after Bauhaus masters and with Collection II, all the pieces are named after architects.
For example, Bauhaus painter Piet Mondrian inspired the 'Mondrian' ring from Collection I. Mondrian’s genius rests in his ability to utilize primary colors and quadrilaterals while keeping the viewer entranced with every piece. Our Mondrian ring speaks directly to his paintings, as it uses very similar tools: a rectangle and a square from the quadrilateral family in 18-karat yellow gold and oxidized sterling silver, which creates a blackish tone.
In terms of Collection II, the Hadid ring was inspired by architect Zaha Hadid. To me, Zaha Hadid's buildings are large scale sculptures. The Hadid ring was inspired by Zaha Hadid's way of seeing. It was something I conceived but was unaware of how it would work. Through intense product development and a high level of engineering, we were able to achieve the look I originally had in mind.
Chariots on Fire: What is it like working with your mother?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: Being exposed to jewelry as a child, watching my mother work, I knew that I would never have the patience to hand-make jewelry, but it always fascinated me. Bande des Quatres was conceived on a family vacation when my mother and I were designing jewelry that would accessorize the outfit I planned to wear to my senior thesis exhibition. 'Van der Rohe' and 'Moholy-Nagy' were created for that very purpose.
'Van der Rohe' really pushed me to develop the brand and debut the collection of Bande des Quatres. Each design is a collaboration: conceived by myself and hand-crafted by my mother. Working with my mother has truly been a gift. I’ve never had a knack for drawing. It’s always ideas for me, so she can read my mind in the sense that I’ll point to something and she’ll know exactly what I’m thinking and how to translate it. It wouldn’t work like that with just anyone. I think you have to have that family bond to be able to do that.
As for the process, our studio in Montreal handles the production of each piece which is made to order. When an order comes in, each piece is constructed from raw materials, hand worked and hand finished. Our pieces combines sterling silver, oxidized sterling silver, 18kt yellow and palladium white gold and precious gemstones. All the finishes used, from sand blasting to scratching, oxidizing to polishing, are individually applied by hand making each Bande des Quatres piece unique. The various steps to create each finished piece respect goldsmithing’s time honored tradition.
Left: Photo by Chariots on Fire. Center: Photo by Erin Wahed. Right: Photo by Chariots on Fire.
Chariots on Fire: What's the best advice your mom's ever given you?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: Pay close attention to detail, it pays off.
I recall my mother teaching me this when I used to make Bristol board presentations in grade school. I was taught to never cut without drawing a straight line with a ruler before taking scissors to paper. As menial and frustrating as it was, because of my lack of patience, it did look MUCH better in the end.
With Bande des Quatres, we spend as much time finishing the pieces through, sandblasting, oxidizing, scratching, as physically making them. This attention to detail is what makes Bande des Quatres so special.
Chariots on Fire: What's the best advice your daughter's given you?
Bande des Quatres | Erin's mom Janis: “Don’t forget to breathe”… this is something Erin always reminds me to do. Apart from working on Bande des Quatres with Erin, I have my own successful line of one of a kind and limited series jewellery that I have been producing for 40 years. Sometimes, all of it can become overwhelming even when it is all so exciting and inspired. Having the opportunity to work with my daughter on Bande des Quatres has been both eye opening and educational. Her saavy has allowed me to target an audience that I would never have reached out to on my own and with her guidance in knowing what’s right and “it” is something that is truly invaluable.
Chariots on Fire: Is there a piece of jewelry you wear everyday or that is very special to you?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: Van der Rohe is the one ring I wear everyday. It is special to me because it is the piece that pushed me to continue designing more and develop the brand.
There is this sense of illusion with Bande des Quatres that makes the viewer wonder how the rings stay on the hand. 'Van der Rohe' is the perfect example of this illusion and truly plays with viewers perception on a daily basis. From the get-go, the ring became a conversation starter, even causing disgusted looks on the Subway with onlookers thinking I’ve pierced my finger.
Chariots on Fire: If you could have access to any materials in the world to create a piece or a new collection, what would those be?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: My favorite color since I have been a child has been neon fluorescent green and my favorite shade is black. If there was a way to make metal fluorescent, I would love to make a new collection accenting sterling silver and 18kt yellow gold with it.
Chariots on Fire: Do you consider yourself a collector? If so, what do you collect and why?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: I collect photography. The foundation of the collection speaks to a certain diversity but a common goal of stepping outside the box and daring to be different -- be it Wayne F. Miller, a documentary war photographer, finding the unconventional symmetry and whimsy in a parachute jump at a time of world conflict, Alfred Stieglitz’s 'The Steerage', having him radically switch from pictorial to straight photography or even Berenice Abbott’s images for a science textbook, boldly departing from her much different well-known architectural photography.
The interest is pairing the vintage with the contemporary photography and examining common threads and influences. As Moholy-Nagy describes: “The enemy of photography is the convention…The salvation of photography comes from the experiment.” This is foundation of the collection specifically – unconventional Modern Abstract photography through experimentation.
Left: Photo by Chariots on Fire. Right: Photo by Erin Wahed.
Chariots on Fire: You live in New York, what are some of your favorite "secret" spots?
Bande des Quatres | Erin: My favorite go-to place for drinks is the Smith. The atmosphere, food and drinks are all great – it is also right next to my apartment. For extra special mixology, the Summit in Alphabet City is the place to go. For dancing and mixology and great Jazz on a Monday night, Apotheke in Chinatown. This mixology bar is on the best little street in New York – Doyer Street.