Gabriel Popa is a graduate of Marin Sorescu High School, specialized in Architecture, and the University of Decorative Arts and Design, specialized in ceramic-glass-metal. That’s where he attended courses of History of Art, Aesthetics and Metal Sculpture. “This mix of ingredients is at the heart of my becoming a conceptual jeweler designer – an ongoing initiation. I combine geometric architectural shapes with sculptural organic shapes to convey a message relevant to contemporary society.”
Author jewelry is in direct connection with the world of ideas, concepts. What can you tell us about the concept of the collection you presented at AUTOR 2017?
In the collection I presented at AUTOR I try to emphasize the relationship between man and nature, contrasting the urban landscape with the natural landscape, the technology with nature. Although technology is the basis for the formation of contemporary society, it tends to capture the natural environment (which undergoes genetic and climatic changes), and it is increasingly becoming part of our bodies and our lives. People tend to forget our fundamental connection with nature, causing problems such as poor management of natural resources, overpopulation, global warming.
How far will this process go? Will we get to the point where humans and nature will be simple components of the artificial?
The main purpose of the collection is to raise awareness towards all these aspects of our relationship with the nature, of our relationship with ourselves.
There is still a strong tendency to associate jewelry with precious metals. Is there a special material you would like to experience with, but you haven’t had the chance yet? Any unique material?
For most of the jewelry I create, I use common, easy-to-acquire materials by recycling faulty items that I then process through traditional techniques. In the future I would like to use 3D plastic printing technology to highlight my architectural vision of jewelry design.
AUTOR Fair was your first encounter with a large audience. How would you describe the person wearing your jewels?
The person who wears my jewelry must be willing to wear not only a jewel but a whole concept, to wear it everywhere and to share it with everyone as a protest, as a statement, perhaps. They must love nature, shapes and simple ideas, characterized not by minimalism that leads to the lack of imagination, but more rather by maximization of expressivity through the minimum of lines.
What is the best advice you have received so far? What advice would you give to another colleague who’s just beginning to walk the path of jewelry?
The best advice I have received was to transfer to an artistic high-school. And my advice for a beginner jeweler is to see jewelry not as a destination or as a purpose, but rather as an instrument for attaining that purpose.
If you could be a jewel, what jewel would you be?
I think I would be an oversized jewel, at the border between architecture and sculpture, like Richard Serra’s works. So that the one wearing me – Planet Earth – would really stand out.
You were voted as the most popular designer at your first participation at AUTOR Fair, therefor winning the Audience Award. Does this change anything for you? How does it feel?
My participation at AUTOR is the result of a long-lasting process of documenting, theoretical and practical thorough study, a lot of effort and many sacrifices. Being my first participation at a jewelry exhibition, I did not know what my expectations would be. The fact that I won the Audience Award is a validation of my work; it means that my message is of public interest and that I am on the right track in terms of contemporary jewelry. This gives me more confidence and support for making future collections.