A visit to Gabriela Artigas’s studio is a gift, for it enables one to step out of the city and enter a space imbued with all things distinctly Gabriela. The earth floors are juxtaposed with colorful, modern furniture, upon which finished jewelry is displayed alongside interesting trinkets, chunks of quartz and turquoise, and bits of new designs in the making. This charming and dynamic potpourri of high fashion, nature, sleek design, and whimsy can be seen not just in Gabriela’s workspace, but also in the art she creates and the outlook with which she lives her life. She is at once eclectic and concordant.
The title of “jewelry designer” is but one of the many hats Gabriela Artigas wears, and the success of her namesake line is that much more impressive for the fact that it was a happy accident. While studying textile design in her hometown of Mexico City, Gabriela went to the supermarket and was struck by the vibrant colors of a toothbrush brand. She promptly bought a handful, removed the bristles, and molded them into cuffs. A few short weeks later, she contacted the factory to inquire about purchasing several thousand toothbrushes, for every time she wore one of her cuffs, it was instantly bought off of her wrist. The instantaneous sensation of the toothbrush cuff prompted her to try making jewelry using other materials. Shortly after, she designed her first collection, “21,” in 2003.
When asked where she draws inspiration, Gabriela smiles and gestures around her, as if to suggest that it’s really a silly question – one that cannot be supplied with a defined or concrete answer. The world at large is the wellspring of her creativity and the smallest details find their way into her artistry. She sources semiprecious stones from all over the globe, twisting the materials in contemporary ways and playing with asymmetrical motifs. The idea behind a design is just as significant as the result itself; a striking black coral necklace was conceived because she liked the idea of going back into history and delving underneath the water to find one of nature’s richest materials, then updating its connotation in a modern setting.
This theme of contrast prevails. Gabriela mixes a miniskirt with sneakers and wears a diamond stud in one ear, a delicate gold hoop in the other. She combines copper vintage chains with rough quartz, beetle wings with obsidian, and chunks of faceted jade with smooth ebony. She finds beauty in the awkward and says of her creative process, “It's not about inspiration, but about the conversation one has with materials. It's about the process of sitting down and playing with surfaces, shapes, textures, and how they relate to the body.” Her jewelry line is rooted in her very being; as a natural offshoot of her sensibility, it is unsusceptible to fleeting fashion trends. Accordingly, her design process cannot be constrained: Gabriela lets the materials’ similarities and differences play off of one another, influencing the arrangement and ensuring that the outcome will be respectful of its individual components. The ensuing collection is an amalgamation of Gabriela’s delight with the natural world, appreciation of incongruity, intuitive aesthetic taste, and steadfast exploration of everything that surrounds her.