Ari Athans

Ari Athans is a jewellery designer based in New Farm, Brisbane. She has been creating jewellery for decades, and is known for her use of unusual gemstone cuts and raw geological materials, alongside precious metals. Her work is both minimalist and laden with meaning, drawing inspiration from other design disciplines, including fashion, as well as her Greek heritage. Her work has been exhibited locally and internationally.

You established your jewellery gallery in New Farm in 2004, and this space also doubles as a workshop. Consequently, your work has the aura of an artwork, being presented a few times a year in a white gallery space. Has this kind of space informed the work you produce?

Yes, absolutely. The space allows me to see my work as a whole. Jewellery is artwork and presenting it in a minimal white space allows concepts and materials to be communicated to the viewer. The space also functions as a studio and workshop, so all the elements of running a creative business come together really well. The biggest influence the space has had on my work is the interaction with clients. I have met some really lovely people which has led to some fabulous friendships. Meeting the maker and vice versa is a very powerful thing!

How has your Greek heritage influenced your design practice?

Initially I wanted to stay as far away as I could in regards to my Greek heritage, however, it kept creeping in. The ritual of giving, receiving, and passing on jewellery has always been an important part of all cultures through the ages. For example, my mother used to make these little square pouch things, that were pinned to our underclothes to ward off the evil eye/bad luck. I created a body of work based on this concept and many of my pieces are sold as lucky charms.

Tell us how you came to be interested in fashion…

My mother was a seamstress and for a period of time did piece work from home, so we were always helping out. I learned how to sew and made tons of very strange things in the eighties. I found it liberating to be able to create clothes that were unique and affordable. I especially loved to paint patterns directly on to the garment once it was finished (as pictured). My current sewing project is helping my kids with their Supernova outfits. They are fascinated by the process of starting with something two-dimensional like fabric and patterns and creating a 3D form around the body. I am primarily interested in fashion as an art/design form, and it does spill into my jewellery in the form of casting lace crochet pieces into silver, cotton binding, and leather work.

Where do you look for inspiration on matters of style?

There are so many great blogs and magazines, I enjoy reading ‘Style Bubble’ blog, I love German Vogue, Dansk, Dossier, Garage, The Gentlewoman, Worn – too many to mention. When I’m in Hong Kong I always love to browse through Prada, Miu Miu, Marni, Marc Jacobs – it’s nice to see entire collections. Fabric stores in Sham Shui Po, smaller boutiques in NoHo, Hong Kong, all second hand stores for upcycling. But really I don’t get time to shop or put together a ‘look’ in the morning, so most of the time I just wear black and let the jewellery do the talking.

What is your most treasured dress-related object or memory?

My mother’s jewellery box. An incredible array of jewels with stories and memories. I love my old Greek wool tourist bags and Greek embroidered peasant tops, my first tapestry, my grandmother’s hand woven wool blanket…

Give us three words, people or places you associate with Queensland fashion…

Colour / Kaydee sandals / thongs

Is there such a thing as a distinct Queensland style?

Colour colour colour. Queenslanders are not afraid of wearing colour, and there is definitely a relaxed attitude to fashion that comes with a tropical climate.

Tamata - Greek Orthodox votive objects
Tamata - Greek Orthodox votive objectsAri Athans
Ari Athans wearing a hand painted pattern blue top, 1984
Ari Athans wearing a hand painted pattern blue top, 1984Ari Athans
Plastic Kaydee sandals
Plastic Kaydee sandalsAri Athans

Published in , on November 5, 2013.