Where do you draw inspiration from?
History, family, and storytelling are often focused around objects; I’ve always wanted to design, craft, and make that heritage beautiful through the idea of the heirloom. Aesthetically, I draw inspiration from Moorish architecture, the Belle Epoque, Morocco, Art Deco, Indian metal work, Art Nouveau, Ikebana Floral Design. Oral Histories. Kehinde Wiley. Zaha Hadid. Hafiz. Marilyn Minter. Gaudi. Nick Cave. Pipilotti Rist. Azuma Makoto. Fearless Women.
Can you talk about your practice in the light of a global pandemic and sociopolitical crisis—what changed, what remains the same?
In March and April, like the rest of the world, I needed to pivot quickly. I am quite good under pressure. I joke that the world may be falling apart, but I can parkour my way through with the best of them. The first month was about stabilizing my business and locking down as many grants and loans as possible. This was a stressful and highly focused time. At the first staff meeting after lockdown, I told everyone, “Congratulations, we are an online business with a fancy warehouse in Logan Square.” All of our efforts went online and I needed to create the custom consultation and the Adornment +Theory experience at home. This manifested in an IGTV series where we interviewed our designers and gem dealers, hosted a Rihanna dance party on Zoom, and hand-delivered custom-designed care packages to bridal couples. I was grateful to our loyal clients, who continued to buy and create custom designs during the period. My designing looks the same day-to-day, except with much more of an online element. I’m on Instagram more than ever. We’ve always had virtual consultations and our webstore as an option, now people are using it more. The preparation and foundation we built in advance helped us brace for impact. In terms of BLM, my associates and I have been involved from the onset. Issues of racism and lack of diversity in my field have been near and dear to my heart for years. Adornment +Theory hosted fine art shows and we podcast on the topic in early 2019. As a minority woman business owner, I am happy to see the discussions and much-needed work in many industries.
Where do you see the future of design in the post-COVID world?
Every designer has to adjust. You have to project and anticipate financial markets changing. For me, it’s monitoring soaring gold prices and Bitcoin. Knowing your key demographic and their discretionary income is key. It’s not enough to be a good designer, we have to utilize our creativity as business owners to stay ahead. For some, that’s online; for others it’s doubling down on high-touch experiences. As a fine jewelry designer, I know, and adore, that people will continue to fall in love even in the midst of crisis. Throughout human history, couples will still marry. It’s deeply romantic and quite beautiful. Witnessing all of the intimate micro-weddings that have taken place gives me hope and a deep sense of honor that a couple would entrust me with something so special. My designs are pieces people will wear everyday, and God willing, will pass down and remain heirlooms in their families. I don’t take that lightly. It’s what I love about what I do.
Greek-born Vasia Rigou is a Chicago-based art critic and pop culture journalist, largely on the subjects of contemporary art, design, and fashion. She moved to Chicago in 2013 to study Arts Journalism at the School of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC,) where she was awarded the New Artist Society Merit Scholarship. She grew up to appreciate art after years of carefully planned, culture-filled travel itineraries and museum-hopping around Europe with her family. During this time, she received a bachelor’s in English Literature, in her native Athens; a master’s in Media, in Nottingham, UK; and studied foreign languages—English, German, and Spanish at the University of Salamanca, Spain. Her writing—reviewing museum exhibitions, gallery shows, art fairs, fashion shows, and music festivals among others—has been published nationally and internationally both in print and online. In 2017, she founded and now serves as editor-in-chief of Rainbowed.—an independently published website focused on the visual and performing arts, digital media, and popular culture. When she’s not writing about art or looking at art—wine in hand, she keeps up with Chicago’s creative entrepreneurial and startup community, makes lists for pretty much everything, drinks immense amounts of coffee and takes cross-country road trips every chance she gets.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.rigouvasia.com