We are jewellery crazy here at #TeamCoco towers, especially when something as extraordinary and unusual as Chic Pig presents itself before our very eyes.
Chic Pig is the unique jewellery design business by Chiara Bello, her designs ooze fun and frivolity and we are seriously lusting after her latest animal design collection. You name it and Chiara has probably included it in her designs, from cute cats and dashing dogs, to funny frogs and lovely ladybugs all added to her jewellery range of rings and pendants.
We wanted to find out more about Chiara and where her ideas come from to design such unusual items of jewellery.
Q. HOC. Did you start out in your career designing unique jewellery or did you grow into the designer that you are today?
Chiara. I trained as an architect and studied design at the Royal College of Art, so I have been a designer my whole life (and loved sketching and painting animal and funny characters since a child!). So as a curious designer I tapped into jewellery in 2008, and applied the design process to a new field that I wanted to explore.
Q. HOC. Can you tell us how you started out designing animal jewellery, and where your creative ideas come from?
Chiara. I had a beautiful ring belonging to my mum from the 50s: it was gold with blue enamel. I had the idea to use that technique but use the animals as subjects, to make it fun but at the same time extremely chic (how only animals can be ;-)). This was the perfect project for me, linking together 2 of my passions: design/craftmanship and drawing fun animals.
Q. HOC. You are Italian and use Italian craftsmen and women from artisan businesses to produce your jewellery, was is a conscious decision to use Italian artisans or did it just happen organically?
Chiara. It was really timely that I met Paolo, a family friend who owned a small jewellery lab in the heart of the North-Italian city of Valenza (a city with more than 100 years of tradition of jewellery craftmanship, where brands like Tiffany and Damiani have their jewellery made) and I fell in love with the process of jewellery making, the enamel technique, the wooden tables and interesting tools, and above all the skills of those people.
Q. HOC. You are Italy-based, but you set up Chic Pig while living in London. Do you sell Chic Pig designs in London only or do you sell to a wider market?
Chiara. The project was born while I was living in Camden – London, and I was surrounded by creativity and the animals of the London Zoo ;-). The second collection (The Home) was born in Zürich, while I was living there and the last one (soon will be released) was born in the Italian Riviera, where I currently live. My design travels like me, so I currently sell in Europe Switzerland and US through my website and the Wolf&Badger platform.
Q. HOC. Do you have a favourite piece that you have designed?
Chiara. I like Lino Pig because is iconic and fun, but the piece I wear the most is Lulu Goose: chic and funny at the same time, just like me!
Q. HOC. Your brand is unique in its concept, do you find that you have a niche type of clientele or do your designs span across many different types?
Chiara. Chic Pig is for sophisticated women with a sense of humour… It’s playful and colourful and wants to bring happiness and fun to everyone who dares to!
Q. HOC. On your website www.chicpig.com you showcase the 5-day process of how you design, produce, and finish all your jewellery, have you found this a useful marketing tool when promoting your business?
Chiara. In the fast-paced world we live in it is important to take the time to understand how things are made. The passion and care that craftsman and women put in their work is incredible and sometimes the role of the designer is just to make visible what is invisible. This is exactly what I did with showing how long it takes to make a ring. Chic Pig is not a factory, it is an art-lab where each piece is a little sculpture designed, forged and finished.
Q. HOC. Do you remember your first piece of Chic Pig jewellery that you made and sold?
Chiara. Yes! I walked into a small jewellery boutique in Brera (Milan) during the Design Week and the women fell in love with Chic Pig, bought the whole collection and displayed it in the main window! I was speechless!
Q. HOC. Did anyone offer you any strong advice before launching your business that you still follow to this day?
Chiara. Yes, I learned at the Royal College of Art to be original and create my unique style without compromises.
Q. HOC. Do you ever have a bad design day where you are unhappy with your drawings, and if so, how do you build yourself back up to re-design and start afresh?
Chiara. The first collection had far more animals than the second and third. I was overexcited and made some animals that simply did not work as rings. I had to decide to reduce the number of animals to just few really good ones.
Q. HOC. If you were to offer one piece of advice to someone thinking of getting into a niche type of jewellery designing, what would it be?
Chiara. Find your uniqueness and never give up!
Thank you for taking the time to answer all our #WomenWorldwide questions for House of Coco Magazine.