Jewelry Designer Faris Du Graf’s Minimalist Works of Art Make a Personal Statement
Jewelry designer Faris Du Graf is a minimalist. “It’s ironic because jewelry is all about adornment and adding more. I am not ornate, but I make ornamentations.” Her jewelry line, FARIS, though stunningly crafted, does first appear clean and modern. But put it on and the gentle, rippling shape of the pendant necklace is lost to the austerity of the metal; the graceful Ladyday earrings appear mechanical and botanical. What is delicate, when worn, becomes a powerful fashion statement—and hardly what one would categorize as minimalist.
This harmony is Du Graf’s signature, which is equal parts rigid and soft, sculptural and organic. For Du Graf, striking the balance between opposites is a natural result of her design process, which demands she remain agile at all times. Ahead, Du Graf reminds us that when creating something from nothing, every movement is crucial and the finished result is rarely exactly what you thought it would be.
There’s nothing that spurs Du Graf’s creativity like the thrill of knowing that her next design is out in the world, waiting to be found. “It’s important for me to stay engaged and curious and come back to the drawing table with something new and fresh,” she says of her design process. “I always carry a sketchbook with me to jot things down—be it shapes that I see, or just a feeling or vibration that moves me. When it comes time to make [the jewelry], I gather my sketchbooks and I move back through those moments, revisiting the feelings I wanted to capture.”
Imbued with new perspective, Du Graf retreats to her Seattle studio to construct her jewelry by hand along with her small team of artisans. Using a wax carving to create her model, the artist shapes her design, adding and subtracting material until it feels just right—a balance that requires the artist to be nimble. “It’s very therapeutic,” Du Graf admits, adding that she’ll often pick up the wax during her off-hours as her own form of meditation. “A lot of jewelry designers these days will use a computer to design their shape, and I think that’s great, but for me, working with wax allows me to be more reactive and exploratory—more hands-on.” The malleable wax is transformed into a wearable, metal sculpture, molded and cast in-house into the collection’s newest necklace, bracelet or earrings.
The freedom of this hands-on, tactile play gives personality to Du Graf’s art. So do the personas she imagines as she designs the pieces. “They’re always so different, these women that I imagine while designing—different from each other and also from the woman who ends up wearing my jewelry in real life.” Du Graf recalls some of her usual personas: the older, artful woman; the business professional looking for a statement piece; a young fashionista on the hunt for newness—all are wearing Du Graf’s jewelry collection as if it were sculpted just for them.