My jewelry design process | by ShulliDesign

Why do I work exactly the opposite from the traditional design process? Most designers use a concept called "form follows function", this is because the objects are functional. The function chooses the way the object will be used, which then determines the final shape. In my case, it's "form follows material". I try to understand what the material wants to be by manipulation: cutting, bending, heating and reshaping. When I reach an interesting aesthetic, I quit and ask myself "now, what kind of jewelry does it want to be? a necklace, earrings or perhaps a bracelet?" only then, a final ShulliDesign contemporary jewelry is born.

The pebbles collar necklace is a one-of-a-kind art jewelry resembling mosaic. I came up with this technique designing knee high boots in my past life as a footwear designer. I was a senior designer at Naot footwear, the largest shoe company in Israel. I took upon myself to lead sustainability in the production process. One direction was to figure out new ways to reduce leather waste. Vadim, who was my modelist, taught me how to make leather flowers the traditional way he practiced in the Soviet Union, using only a lighter. I realized that if I heated the leather on one side, it shrinks, becomes concave and causes the outer side to become convex. I found out that if I cut rounded shapes and place them on a hotplate, they puff up and create cabochon shapes, just like rounded pebbles or sea-glass. Being a natural material, every leather type reacted differently. Patents for instance, came out looking like jewels, soooo beautiful. I fell in love with this technique! When we were making the samples, I put a table with a hotplate outside the factory, and shaped my beautiful pebbles one by one, you can imagine the curious workers huddling around me wondering, "What is this crazy designer cooking up for us now?" 

Even in the mass produced boots, every pebble was shaped individually and each pair had 40 pieces!!! You probably think that a leading company like Naot would produce all of the shoes by machine, but you would be surprised what a large part in most footwear is actually made by hand, hence the price of good leather shoes.

When I introduced these pebbles into my ShulliDesign jewelry collection, I liked the odd natural shapes better than the perfect circles, they seemed more natural and flowing, they reminded me of glistening wet pebbles on a riverbed. I try to achieve gradient shades and movement-using hundreds of different color shades all from my leather remnants. I developed this unique technique for ecological footwear and I am proud that it is now an important part of my sustainable jewelry collection.

A couple of years ago, I had participated in an art jewelry show in LA curated by the SculpureToWear agency. For the event, the owner, Lisa M. Berman, had ordered a large blue statement necklace I called waterfall. I made it in shades of watery blues and silvery hues for highlights. Being such a big and bold necklace there must have been at least 130 individual pieces in it. The result was a real contemporary statement piece of jewelry. Perfect for the opening of a show for art jewelry collectors.

This technique became a true staple in my studio, people are so surprised by the instant transformation that I am now teaching it in my "Shulli_leather_worshops" it's a purely magical experience!

Because every jewellery art piece is different and unique, I offer customization according to one's request. I can make a modern jewelry design to match your dress. If you fell in love with the pebbles collection and would like a statement piece necklace of your own, just write me a note with your custom jewelry request, and I'll take it from there.