PYRAMID Artwork Is Pure Gold – Interview with Flavie Michou Joaillerie
Funkatech Artwork For PYRAMID Created By Flavie Michou Joaillerie
PYRAMID are known very well in London for their raucous basslines, tight production work and winning awards relating to various compositions whether they be originals or remixing the work of others. Their fans will agree when I say that the music they deliver is somewhat a treasure. When perusing for the brand new double A ‘Leads To Nothing‘ & ‘Rumble‘ – check them out here – you’ll see that the artwork they have with the release is in fact, pure gold. And silver. And with sunglasses.
Bespoke jewellery designer Flavie Michou has followed up on a Funkatech idea and has with great care and attention created some artwork that is worth far more than the norm. The London-based French designer has been in the jewellery industry for over 13 years and she answers a few questions about the trade as we talk about teaching the craft to orphans, jewellery that costs more than houses and rings representing sex-toys.
Interview with Flavie Michou
You have done some traveling, where have you been?
I have traveled to many countries: Germany, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Tunisia, Corsica to name a few. When I was 15 I visited America and did a road-trip in Miami and Florida. This was one of my most memorable trips as it was my first and it really opened my eyes up to how big the world was.
My highlights from traveling include my time in Lebanon and Mexico. I went to Lebanon with my ex-employer and whilst there we undertook an intensive jewellery setting course. Mexico was my other highlight as it was so different to anything I had ever experienced. Whilst there I undertook volunteer work and taught jewellery techniques to local women, and crafts to orphaned children. I also attended the thousand-year-old Dia de Muertos (Day Of The Dead) festival – which is where I found the inspiration to create my Michocan collection.
Where did you learn your craft?
Both my parents are artists and have been a big influence on me in terms of making crafts and being creative. When I was 15 I was offered a place at the jewellery school Nicolas Flamel– Ecole Boulle, and later obtained my Bachelor of Arts. I then went on to work for various prestigious jewellery workshops on the Grand Boulevard in Paris, which helped refine my skills.
You are a London-based French designer, what brings you over to London from Paris?
The reason I moved to London from Paris was to travel and to better my English language speaking skills. The reason I have stayed so long is simply because it’s London! It’s big and crazy and hectic, sometimes scary, but never a dull moment. I like that.
There are quite a few British designers that I look up to – Shaun Leane, Theo Fennell, Solange Azagury-Partridge to name a few. They make edgy pieces whilst still maintaining quality. You don’t really see that often in France. My aim is to make jewellery similar to theirs – something fun and quirky that makes the wearer smile, but is still stylish and maintains quality. With these designers in mind, I figure that the best place for me to do that is in London.
What kind of jewellery do you create and what is the process you go through? For example, the pieces you’ve done for PYRAMID?
There are 2 kinds of jewellery I create. One is the more classic style – bridal jewellery made out of platinum gold and precious stones. The other kind of jewellery I create is my own designs. My current collections are all a bit fun and edgy but with high-end quality. The collections include pendants, rings, and bracelets that are hand-made from sterling silver and semi-precious stones. All pieces have a quirk to them and feature either moveable parts that the wearer can play with, or secret stones.
With the PYRAMID pieces, I first studied photos of Nicky and Scotty to ensure I picked out the right physical characteristics to sketch out the design and make specific measurements. It helped that I know the boys a bit and am familiar with their personalities – so I tried to make that shine through in the skulls. I think the skulls came out looking quite “cool”, and I suppose Nicky and Scotty are kind of cool.
In terms of manual labour involved, both the pieces were hand-made. I then used various techniques to turn them into what they are now – filing, drilling, adjusting and polishing. Again trying to create the element of fun – both the pieces can be worn as pendants and have moveable glasses.
I have a new collection to be launched in November – Paradox. This collection is very different to the other ones as it is more of an accessible high-street range. The idea of Paradox came to me after playing with a Woodcraft puzzle. I wanted to make pendants that looked like woodcraft – where the body of each piece was sliced instead of whole. Whilst the Woodcraft puzzle doesn’t seem like a stereotypically stylish object, my aim was to make unique pieces by creating beauty from it – I did this by turning them into metal pendants that look fresh.
You have quite a penchant for skulls in a few of your pieces, have you seen some real skulls on your travels?
I have actually seen a real skull before! It was when I was in jewellery school. I was with friends and it was late at night. We had used a metal bar to open up a water sewer and then walked through it. The sewer led us to under a Parisian cemetery, and catacombs. It was an exciting adventure, but very scary all the same. Looking back on it, probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do (I certainly wouldn’t do it again or recommend it to anyone), but I was young at the time and didn’t know any better.
Has this been one of the more stranger of requests or have you had some very bizarre ones before?
I think my most bizarre request (and I feel a bit embarrassed to say this), was a ring I made which represented a sex-toy. It had a standard band with a long tube sticking out of it with a cabochon stuck on the end of it. It’s not something I would make as part of my own collections, but it was work that I was commissioned to take on through another jeweler.
Another bizarre request was a tattoo design for a friend. My friend – an Australian who was traveling through Europe at the time, wanted to get a tattoo to mark her stay in the UK. As she also has an obsession with skulls, she asked me to design her something. This was a timely process mainly because it’s a tattoo and something she is stuck with for the rest of her life – so I wanted to make sure I got it right, and more so that it was meaningful for her. The end result was a Bollywood themed sugar-skull. It had the usual make of a sugar-skull, but included a bindi, nose ring, tikka and bright colours. My friend’s parents are Pakistani, so it kind of seemed fitting. We called it the “Pakistani Princess skull”. I can’t wait to make the same one for her finger now.
How are you influenced? Musically, visually, naturally?
Friends and family play a big influence in how I make my jewellery. My collections also take inspiration from everyday life experiences.
With music, I am quite open-minded and like many different artists from different genres. I like PYRAMID (obviously). There are quite a few female artists that I am a fan of too – not just because of their music, but also because of their style. I’d love to one day have my pieces worn on stage by Bjork, Florence Welsh, Roisin Murphy, Angel Haze, Yasmin and Aluna Francis… one day I guess.
Visually, I love bright colours as they stand-out and attract attention, but I also like dark colours as they are more classic and am a big fan of see-through patterns (like lace). I love mechanical objects too – things that you can play with, move, twist, and open – I guess this comes out in my pieces.
What is the most expensive jewellery item that you have ever come across?
The most expensive jewellery item I have come across was a few years ago. The company I was working for received a job through a high-end company called De Beers. The actual client was a princess and the item was a big collar made from diamonds. As it was a custom piece – I’m not sure what the price was (as I didn’t take care of that part of the business), but given that there were over 120ct diamonds, I would say it would’ve retailed at a minimum of £200,000. Definitely the most expensive piece I have ever worked on, I remember when it was done I didn’t feel comfortable trying it on for fear of breaking it!
Where can we see more of your work?
I have 3 stockists in the UK. Johnny Rocket in London, Diana Porter Contemporary Jewellery in Bristol, and Robinsons Goldsmith in Bangor – Ireland. I am also stocked on jewelstreet.com, and have my own website – see below. Later this year I will be showing at Craft Central’s Made in Clerkenwell exhibition from 28 November – 1 December which showcases 150 UK designer/makers.
What is next for Flavie Michou?
My new collection Paradox will be launched in November – so look out for that. I’m working at expanding the business further in the UK and entering the international market for both my high-end and high-street designs. Part of my team is based in Australia and I have a trip planned for the end of this year. Am going to push the Flavie Michou Joaillerie brand name there and find stockists in Melbourne and Sydney.
To make something similar to what Flavie has done for PYRAMID and Funkatech is truly something that shows passion and dedication. Something which Funkatech appreciates incredibly, and admires.
“The bespoke pendants that where made by Flavie are second to none. The quality of the final product is fantastic and the likeness she managed to get of the PYRAMID lads is amazing. A great team to work with and on a short timescale delivered the goods to the highest standard. Looking forward to working with them again! – Asad Funkatech
Leads To Nothing by PYRAMID is out now and Flavie Michou Jewellery is open for business
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