Anna Tomich and Jorge López Conde both have backgrounds in interior design and architecture and they’re the young pair behind LOTOCOHO, a jewellery company which they started around four years ago and whose international presence has taken them to London, Paris, Bangkok, Bahrain, the USA, Shanghai, Luxembourg, Florence…
How would you describe the way you work? We have developed a design system using geometric techniques which allow us to scale things down to fit the size of the human body, and by doing this have given them a whole new significance. We have applied the techniques of architecture to the world of jewellery. This is what makes our pieces unique, since this use of geometry makes it impossible to work with moulds; our pieces can be mass-produced but not using industrial techniques. We’re involved in the assembly process from start to finish. We take the techniques we each picked up in our respective fields, 3D modelling, for example, and apply them to these designs and materials. We play around with scale and our mock-ups become pieces of jewellery.
There is a clear fusion between architectural and natural shapes in your pieces. We talk about a geometric transformation of signs into symbols which refer to a real object with a concrete name. This object always has a story which ties it to world culture in a mythological sense, through the landscape or the mountains: mountains of peace or of strength… So each piece has its own story which reminds you of your origin, which is the Earth itself or the shapes of the landscape.
What sort of materials do you usually work with? Acrylics, aluminium powder, rust in the pieces… Gold, silver, copper, bronze, brass and mixtures of gold, silver and diamond, different stones like quartz and chalcedony, 16 types of wood and different types of gilt, such as red gold… with methods taken not only from jewellery making but also architecture, 3D, cutting lasers…
…it has come as a great surprise to us that our concept is best understood in the world of fashion and it is there that there is most support for innovation. In this sense it’s a field that is more advanced than the world of art and architecture.
How does it feel to see your pieces both in the most exclusive of fashion shops and also in art galleries? You’re right that our pieces are sold in shops which specialise in design and also in museums: we’re currently waiting for confirmation from the Pompidou Centre and we’re selling pieces in the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, the MOMA in New York and the Thyssen in Madrid, where one of our necklaces also recently featured in the exhibition “Impressionism and Open-air Painting. From Corot to Van Gogh”. For us it is important, and enjoyable, for our work to have a presence in art galleries. All the pieces have a meaning, not always a conventional one, which can be much better understood in those spaces, but it has come as a surprise to us that our concept is best understood in the world of fashion and it is there that there is most support for innovation. In this sense it’s a field that is more advanced than the world of art and architecture.
Who and what inspires you? We always say that we’re heavily influenced by Aby Warburg’s atlas work, sketching out an abstract idea related to a certain concept and creating a story from there. On the other hand, when it comes to the matter of form and material, we draw inspiration from a wide range of sources, from Issey Miyake to Sol LeWitt. On a more personal level, we both consider Enric Miralles as our greatest role model. As for fashion, we’re fascinated by the work that Burberry has been doing recently but if we had to focus on designers or fashion houses where the style clearly fits ours, once again we’d go for Miyake, Céline, Fendi… Henrik Vibskov, who we’ve been in touch with and are really eager to work with. And Spaniards too, Josep Font for sure.
Who are your pieces aimed at? We’d say, someone of between 35 and 45 or older, with far greater aspirations than just their professional interests.
Which celebrity would you like to wear your jewellery? When we found out that Marina Abramovic loved our pieces, it was clear to us that she was our ideal customer. The same is true of Jane Birkin: they are women who, despite being scrutinised by the media, are respected on both a personal and professional level and who have a beauty that transcends what is pretty and what is ugly – that is what appeals to us. Other figures who are perhaps less prestigious, so to speak, but who nonetheless try to do things a bit differently, and who pique our interest, include Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister. She’s someone we have set our sights on; we’re hoping for a chance to offer her some of our pieces. Also Cat Power or Erykah Badu. In Spain, Estrella Morente, because she implicitly represents everything that we value in Spanish culture, not to mention being a very well respected artist.
Going back to Marina Abramovic, how did your collaboration with her come about? A stylist got in touch with us to request some pieces: she was working on a fashion report with Marina for the debut of the opera “The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic” at the Teatro Real in Madrid and she told us that she really loved our work. Marina invited us to her dressing room on the opening night wanting to buy some pieces. We couldn’t let her pay for them but she insisted that she didn’t want us to give them to her for free so we came to an agreement; she would pose for some photos in the theatre wearing our work after the debut. The opera ends with a poem entitled Volcano of Snow, which was perfect, as one of the pieces that she chose for herself was the “Teide” brooch, which represents the volcano.
Your work has a considerable international presence in a number of very different countries. What is your relationship with the Spanish market like? We have never really set our minds on the Spanish market as such. We very much want to and we have tried but it’s very difficult and unfortunately being Spanish isn’t so much a help as a hindrance. We tried to break into it at the very start but we gave up straight away and turned our focus to the international market which treats us very well, to tell you the truth. We know that if you find recognition elsewhere, people come to respect you here but it’s very difficult. It’s a question of culture and it has to do with the fact that the market is dominated by a select few businesses and families. However, we do have some great Spanish clients, people who follow and support us. What’s a shame is that a lack of government support undermines the institutions responsible for generating the Marca España… You go along to a fair and you notice that although the Spanish products are exceptional, and unique to Spanish producers, there’s no respect for products bearing the ‘Made in Spain’ tag. There’s a lack of industry and if that industry, which comes from the support of institutions, shops and the opinion of the general public, of the country itself, doesn’t exist, it all gets very complicated.
What’s a shame is that a lack of government support undermines the institutions responsible for generating the Marca España. You go along to a festival and you notice that although Spanish products are exceptional, and unique to Spanish producers, there’s no respect for products bearing the ‘Made in Spain’ tag.
Your studio is located in Madrid although you are represented by the British showroom AMF. What is your relationship with the British market like and what advantages do you find there? London is an international trade capital closely linked with Asia. It provides the US with a connection to Asia through Europe. After many meetings with AMF, our showroom, it became very clear to us that Asia was the next step and we had to turn our focus to those clients. We’d always thought of that as our market, Asia and the US. Then we thought, well, Anna’s from London and the Foreign Office there offers a lot of support to those born in London and we had it in mind to set up there. We also made a lot of great contacts at fairs and at Selfridges department stores, for example, and that encouraged us a lot. Many shops showed a lot of interest. Objectively speaking, Paris is the fashion capital of the world, and our showroom sells in Paris despite having been founded in London. It’s a way of having a presence at the Fashion Weeks in both Paris and London.
To finish off, asking Anna and Jorge if there’s anything they’d like to add, they return to the subject of their inspiration. For us, music is fundamental. Music and fashion are the two most progressive disciplines, and it’s from them that we’re gradually adopting new ideas and concepts. They link you to the world in a more comprehensive way, more directly and more quickly than the world of art.
For more information, visit: www.lotocoho.com