Tomorrow, Phillips is presenting “Jewels Now – Ana Khouri”—the designer’s first solo exhibition. Highlighting Ana Khouri’s work as a sculptor and a designer, the exhibition is set to feature over 50 of Khouri’s haute jewelry pieces, including a never-before-seen selection. This year, the designer also celebrates the fifth anniversary of her namesake label.
To learn more about her diverse art techniques, working with various materials, and staying in the present moment, Whitewall spoke with Khouri.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about “Jewels Now: Ana Khouri” at Phillips.
ANA KHOURI: “Jewels Now – Ana Khouri” marks a special milestone for me as it’s the first exhibition solely dedicated to my work at an auction house. We will be showcasing over 50 pieces of high jewelry over the course of a three-day period. We started the conversation casually and the more we got involved in it, the more it all made sense. It was a very organic process and it has been an amazing experience to work with Phillips.
WW: How did your past training in traditional art inform you designs of today?
AK: My background and love of sculpture plays heavily in my favor, allowing me a richer understanding of the creative possibilities that weren’t being explored in jewelry design. My idea of jewelry goes beyond the intended purpose of ornamentation, entering more into the realm of art and sculpture. The designs are about the myriad ways that a piece can take shape on the wearer, and the balance the work creates with the body. In the same way that an ordinary object can be elevated to the level of art, so to can jewelry be further elevated through a renewed focus on its form and design.
WW: What is the largest influence on your work? Have you seen or traveled anywhere recently that’s been particularly inspiring?
AK: Rather than look outward for inspiration, I strive to capture the boundless energy and defiant originality within. My work represents that vital pursuit. It’s my belief that by focusing inward I can translate that spirit into powerfully expressive pieces of jewelry.
With time I’ve come to appreciate that the only way to create something new is to make something that is extremely personal. You have to strip away the nonessential, distill what remains into its pure form, and channel only that energy essential to who you are in your work. For me, that means an approach to jewelry that did not exist before. It’s a desire to make something that does not remind anyone of any other thing. I would like to create pieces that are not simply beautiful, but ones that move you. I want to give them an experience.
WW: Tell us a bit about your creative process. Where does it begin?
AK: My work is continuously evolving however; I believe my design philosophy remains the same—simplicity in composition and in motivation. If beauty is something that is fluid and abstract, then it is not intrinsic to any particular material. Sometimes the fairest things are the most ordinary, and sometimes, the things that are automatically said to be so, because they are precious, are not. I don’t simply want my pieces to adorn, or to stand alone as beautiful objects. I want them to be as perfect as possible. I want my designs to evoke their connection to space—its vastness, its majesty and its superlative form. Over the years I became more comfortable with pushing the boundaries on design, sourcing the best gems and the best craftsmanship. I became more comfortable in my own skin.
WW: You said, “The feeling I want to impart is one of radiance, in every sense: That of light, of emotion, of energy and, of course, that of beauty.” What materials or design choices enable you to radiate the way in which you aim to?
AK: It’s a desire to make something that does not remind anyone of any other thing. Through shapes and volumes and connections that we haven’t encountered before, I aim to bring attention to the essence that went into creating these pieces. I hope that everyone who sees them will leave with their own internal reflection, and, ultimately, a more intimate and personal connection with the pieces themselves. My goal is to spin these precious materials into something that is much more than an extravagant accessory.
WW: Your jewelry is engaging and unique. Who is an Ana Khouri wearer?
AK: The Ana Khouri woman sees jewelry as not only beautiful objects, but ones that move them, that make them feel something visceral. We believe in creating a more intimate and personal connection with the pieces themselves. Generally, the Ana Khouri women have a uniqueness about them, something that is inherently their own. They are artistic, inspirational, natural, gentle, strong and have a genuine connection with the designs.
WW: Is there a material you’re interested in exploring, but haven’t yet?
AK: Yes, there are so many materials that I am interested in exploring but haven’t yet. My background in fine arts, specifically with sculpture allows me the comfort to explore the myriad ways different materials mix together. I’ve been exploring the combination of different materials such as steel, brass, and iron to name a few, and finding out ways to make them work on the designs.
WW: This year, you’re celebrating the 5th anniversary of your namesake label. What has been a career highlight?
AK: I believe the present is always the highlight and the best if yet to come.