Extended Q&A with Phioro Designer & Founder Clare Pardoe
You are originally from Dubai, how did you end up studying jewellery?
Throughout school I loved Design Technology, I was always designing sculptural products and knew that I wanted to own my own design company. At the time I thought that my company would be a furniture design house, but during Art Foundation my path changed and I found a love for metals and small sculptures. I think my work still retains this sculptural aspect, I consider all angles of the piece, and aim to create pieces that are beautiful both on and off the person who wears them. What did you study?
Art Foundation Jewellery and Silversmithing BA How did Phioro develop?
Phioro initially started as a bespoke jewellery design company. I have been working with private clients for 3 years, prior to this yearâ€™s launch of our limited edition collections for global distribution and retailing. What do you consider Phioroâ€™s signature look?
As a jewellery sculptor, I feel my work is always very three-dimensional, I consider a piece from all angles and add hidden details to enhance the beauty of the overall piece, both on and off the wearer. I am a fan of negative space, I like to mix modern architectural forms, inspired by nature, with pierced details, to add depth to the designs.
Who embodies the Phioro ethos?
Our ideal client is a strong, compassionate individual. They honour their true value. I love to dress people who aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd; those who want to convey a message of strength and power through their jewellery choices. Is there a message behind your creations, what do you wish for clients to experience when they own a piece of Phioro Jewellery?
Phioro is all about empowering an individual, I want clients to feel at their very best when wearing their Phioro pieces. Capturing their essence and conveying their potential for the world to see. Every collection has a deep meaning and concept which drive my design choices and inspiration forward when creating each jewellery piece. What piece have you been most proud of creating?
My absolute favourite piece is the Venus pendant in Citrine, it is so versatile, I wear it with everything; dress it up and dress it down. I love the fact that so many people comment on it and it gives me immense satisfaction when the most common statement is - ‘that could be a weapon!’ – I really feel this embodies the feeling of Phioro’s direction; fierce, unapologetic and futuristic.
What are your best selling pieces?
The most popular pieces are the Phi collection, for its delicate femininity, and the Trident Ruby earrings., closely followed by all of our Aquaray collection. What should people consider before spending money on a piece of jewellery?
If you’re investing in a piece, it should really communicate what you are about, on the inside as well as the outside. Having an emotional connection to your jewellery makes the impact so much more powerful when you wear it. It can almost be like a totem, channeling your inner strength. Phioro has just begun to offer men’s cufflinks. Do you plan to create additional men’s collections?
I feel jewellery choice for men has been lacking in creativity and design for fear of losing masculinity. But conversely throughout history, jewellery has been used to convey masculinity and I think that our jewellery has a natural balance of masculine vs feminine within the designs. I am definitely going to channel Phioro’s style into a men’s collection in the near future. How do you think growing up in Dubai has influenced your current work?
I think the architecture and natural surroundings can be seen in many of my designs, I love the curves or the dunes and the mosques, as well as the sparkle and glamour that Dubai is so well-known for.
What has been the most intimidating part about creating your own brand?
Having to understand the market, yet carve out our own unique niche within it. I am definitely guilty of trying to take on too much too soon. My optimism and ambition sometimes run away with me. But Iâ€™ve learnt in the past year to take things slowly, celebrate our successes one by one, and to focus on a clear direction. Where do you find the inspiration for your collections?
I am strongly inspired by nature and the idea of alien-like species. For example orchids and tropical plants have such unusual forms, as well as the incredible underwater world that is just bursting with wild colours and amazing intricacies. I am also inspired by futuristic architecture, and really feel Phioro is perfectly aligned to the way Dubai is directing its path. What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career to date?
Opening our gallery in JLT and employing others has been a huge stepping stone, which I am still absorbing. As well as dressing celebrities for the red carpet at Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2012.
What other jewellery designers do you admire most?
I love Stephen Webster for his bold, gothic style, I have met him and admire his story and the way that he build his brand. I am also drawn to Van Cleef and Arpels, the way that they create stories within each intricately crafted piece, and the iconic history of Place Vendome. What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am naturally very shy and love to listen and truly understand people. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
My Dad said to me when I was about 15 â€˜You can do whatever you put your mind to, just be prepared to work hard and the results will follow.â€™ I have lived by this belief ever since, I think it embedded itself deep into my subconscious mind and it drives me on when everything else around me is causing me to doubt myself. What do you believe is the future of jewellery?
Striking forms, playing with new areas of the body, new cuts of stones, playing with unexpected materials - the list of possibilities is endless.
How do you relax amidst the chaos of building a company and brand?
I believe in striving for balance in life, so in my downtime I make sure I spend quality time with my husband, family, and friends as well as making ‘me’ time to meditate, horse ride and read. I absolutely love water, and love to spend time out on the boat with my Dad, soaking up the sun’s rays and watching the water glitter in the sunshine. What would you do if you weren’t a jewellery designer?
I love writing, I think I might have gone into fashion journalism. Or else, I would have studied psychology, I find people and the way they work absolutely fascinating – which is why I love to design the bespoke pieces so much. It allows me to get to know my client and what makes them tick, and then I can use this information to channel my creativity into a beautiful piece that encapsulates them. Phioro’s motto states ‘A hypnotic legacy’. What does this mean?
I feel there is a hypnotic, intoxicating essence within our pieces, they are intense and powerful, capturing attention instantaneously. This teamed with the idea that we are creating treasures of the future, pieces that are made to last, and to be passed down through generations as incredible art pieces. We believe in empowering individuals to stand out from the crowd, and to define their own hypnotic legacy.
What does Phioro mean?
Phioro is split into two words; Phi – the Greek letter, which represents beautiful, perfection and proportions. And Oro – Italian for gold. I was looking for a catchy, exotic name and the Phi logo actually resembles a piece that I create for my graduation collection, as well as combining the form of my initials C & P. Do you consider skills or ambition more important to be successful in the jewellery world?
Tough question – I think both are absolutely crucial, you couldn’t go far without either one. There are so many talented artists out there who just don’t know how to market themselves, so they never get noticed. I would say my success is due to my ability to master lots of skills, it isn’t just jewellery design, I have had to be a graphic designer, a marketing expert, a PR expert, a branding expert, a manager and so much more. Without my ambition I couldn’t have kept on track, and pushing forwards through the tough times. Do you have any one person in mind when you are designing your pieces?
That depends on whether I am designing for a bespoke client, or whether I am designing a collection. But yes, I would say personality and attitude play a role in my inspiration. For example, I think my jewellery would really suit Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana, and Kate Blanchett. In fact, several of my collections were inspired by Zoe’s character in Avatar, I loved the fierce nature, yet gentle sensuality she balanced within the story, and the mind-blowing futuristic elements within the movie lead me to want to design other-worldly creations.
What do you offer with your Bespoke Jewellery Design services?
I sit with the client and find out what they want to convey with the jewellery piece/set they are commissioning. It is a mix of understanding the personality and style of my client, as well as evoking something they didnâ€™t already recognize in themselves. This is especially popular as gifts, for anniversary presents, wedding/engagement rings, and birthday presents because it allows my clients to truly express their love for the other person by giving them a gift that is completely personal and very thoughtful. The bespoke service includes a complimentary consultation, then we proceed to the design stage where they get to choose from 5-8 designs, and we can tweak these ideas with their input. I then work with my Italian CAD designer, who has more than 20 yearsâ€™ experience in the luxury jewellery industry, to mould my vision into a three-dimensional design. This is then printed and crafted in our workshop in Dubai, minimizing human error and maximizing the utmost quality control. Where are you pieces made?
We produce our bespoke and limited edition collections in our own workshop. This allows me to keep a close eye on quality and production as the pieces are made.
Where are your stones sourced?
Coloured stones are carefully sourced and specifically selected in limited quantities from Jaipur, Sri Lanka or Bangkok. I’m very particular about each stone chosen for a piece, paying great attention to the cut, colour and clarity of each gem. Our diamonds are hand selected from Antwerp, as they remain world renowned in providing the utmost quality and excellence in diamonds. Who’s your style icon?
Victoria Beckham – I love almost everything she designs! Her brand is sexy, elegant and mesmerizing. I also admire where she has taken herself through hard work, determination and ambition. Describe your personal style in one sentence?
Striking, elegant and effortless. What does luxury mean to you?
Luxury is more about an attitude of how one values life. A lifestyle, a choice to surround one’s self with beauty, elegance, quality and good service.
What does the future hold for Phioro?
We are establishing our brand as a luxury jewellery brand with a futuristic edge, but I have always dreamed of having a design house. I wouldn’t limit my design skills to just jewellery, I love light, sculpture, architecture, furniture design, and fashion design. I’m looking forward to taking the next step on that path, and welcome collaborations with other artists who are aligned with Phioro’s vision.
“A hypnotic legacy” - Phioro
2602 Fortune Executive Tower, Cluster T, JLT, Dubai, U.A.E. Tel: +971 04 454 8370 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.phioro.com