Autoctona’s Alessandra Murgia is one of my favorite contemporary jewelry designers. Her sense of restraint and the discipline she puts into the design and fabrication of her pieces is what sets the line apart. I sat with the Portland-based designer and shared a cup of tea with her while gushing over my new favorite piece: her wood and silver “spikes”—somewhat reminiscent of fake gauges and somehow chic and caveman-like, so esoterically minimalist.
The Dandy Project: Tell me about your line, your philosophy, your influences, and inspirations.
Alessandra Murgia: I set out to create wearables that enable a deeper relationship between the individual and the piece. I want to challenge the conventional idea of what an accessory or a piece of clothing should be and how it should be worn. Forward thinking objects, with an intrinsic sense of modernity. Impeccably crafted, companions for life. My inspiration always comes down to be a formula of archaic and futuristic references. It’s a balance of opposites. It mirrors my actual life, I was brought up in a very old and traditional culture but for the past 15 years I chose to experience some of the most modern and vibrant places in the world.
TDP: What type of man do you have in mind when you design your men’s pieces?
AM: I envision a man with a taste for the essential and a meaningful approach to modern style. He has to crave newness and uniqueness. I see Autoctona pieces as tools to express character and personality, that’s the reason why multipurpose objects like Linea or the Bolos are created. They offer a diverse range of interactions and possibilities for the wearer.
TDP: Tell me about the relevance of the notion of “unisex” today.
AM: I don’t have much affinity with the traditional notions of femininity and masculinity portrayed by the established fashion industry. It has to do with a sense of contemporaneity which neither of those notions offers anymore. My interest is in designing meaningful objects rather than creating a product for either men or women. It’s also a direct consequence of how we live and how those traditional roles of men and women are now blended. I think there is a real desire to express feelings like fragility and ambiguity in men’s dressing and power and strength in women’s.
TDP: One of the things I love about Autoctona is the restraint and discipline that you place in the design and fabrication of your pieces. Tell me how this comes into play and how important it is in your creation.
AM: It is at the core of our philosophy. It’s about exploring possibilities, utilizations and form of a shape. For instance, the cylindrical shape for our tips, now translated in three different sizes, transformed into a mechanism for the Linea clasp and into an object itself in the Studs selection. It’s about creating signature shapes and continuously renewing them through usage, color and texture. Color and materials are incredibly important. We have now developed our core colors and fades for the nylon palette, and with the introduction of marble our range of materials includes now stone, metal, fabric and wood. But they are in a way elements that serve the creation of the same formula of clean geometry, esoterica references and interplay of textures and colors.
TDP: Any exciting plans for Autoctona moving forward?
AM: Yes, I’ve been looking into expanding our range the past year. Autoctona will finally launch a line of companions, including scarves and small leather goods, in 2014. It’s amazing to see our aesthetic applied to a completely new territory. We have just shipped our first capsule collection designed for the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. It was a very special project since day one; I’m very proud of the three objects created. In addition to our custom work with private clients, we also consultancy services, and I’m very excited to see what this new territory will bring.