Hello dear reader, It's discount code time again! You can now claim 20% off all beautiful accessories from Antonio Ben Chimol by entering HEY4XM5B. I first came across these crazy cool bracelets when shopping in a local boutique, Della Kaur and fell in love with their understated style and chic simplicity. The bullet bracelet with its contrasting pink and grey colouring makes a bold statement.
The powder set includes minerals and metals transformed and hermetically (I had to look that one up it means airtight) sealed inside transparent tubes. They work separately, linking two together for a necklace or intertwined for the wrap look – be careful though, they can pinch if you aren’t paying attention to the magnetic fasteners.
Intrigued by Antonio’s story I asked if I could interview him and he kindly accepted. There’s something at first a little unnerving, then quite refreshing about Antonio’s offbeat attitude and forthrightness. Switching from the poetic to the pissed off with the nonchalance of a true European. Dropping details of the (5) languages he speaks and how his company evolved (the result of a not-so-great business decision) Antonio's designs are as individual as his personality. But don’t just take my word for it...
1. You dropped out of higher education to embark on a great adventure – sailing boats across the Atlantic. How do you feel this prepared you for life and your career now?
You know to own a company is exactly the same as to be part of a boat crew, from my sailing experience I did learn that we have to enjoy the moment. The good weather as for example success, collections selling well, clients paying their invoices, etc. In the mean time you have to be ready for the storms, when your crew fail, the new collection is not selling, clients piss you off and suppliers make mistakes. If you don’t find the way to survive the storm, it is the end!
To see how fragile and small we are comparative to the ocean, the whales, sharks and storms it remind you every day that you are human. This is a very good tip when you deal with people from all around the world because they are human as well!
I grew up in a small town as Bologna, a transatlantic experience did open my mind and my general view of life, confronting myself with other cultures, people and languages. To leave Italy on a sail boat was just the beginning of a long trip that I have not yet finished I have lived in Rome, Bangkok, New York, Paris, Milan, Sardinia Island, Berlin and Barcelona. Where next?
2. What first drew you to jewellery design?
An accident. I was the owner of a night club in the north of Sardinia Island, once I decided to organise a big concert but things went wrong. In one night I lost a lot of money and to cover the expenses I lost my part of the club. To make money quickly I had to invent something and why not bracelets done with car springs? This was The MASAI bracelet and it was a hit - two million units sold in 6 month. It is still in my collection and selling very well since 1996.
3. Can you remember the first piece of jewellery you saw that made an impact on you?
Yes absolutely, was a gold and emerald dragonfly by Cartier on my grandmother’s book cover. I have no Idea why that jewel made such an impact on my memory in that way.
4. What do you provide your customers with that they can’t get from high end stores?
Original designs. The chance to own a wonderful piece, the opportunity to wear something that is not always the same model and label as everybody else but without sacrificing quality. The name of my last model is BLACK SHEEP BRACELET, in the label it is written “leave the heard behind and buy original designs”.
5. Do you remember where you first got your inspiration for the current collection?
It is just a constant search for something new, something that nobody has yet seen or done. New shapes, solutions kinds of clips, textures or different colours, something unique. I kindly invite you to discover my sea urchin bracelet, the colours of the rainbow or compare the colours combinations of my Bullet bracelets with the flowers you find in nature. There you will find my inspiration.
6. Each of your collections hide a secret within (Rainbow – 7 colours, politician – with 2 faces etc.) Do you feel your opinions on nature/politics shape your designs or vice versa?
Everything is connected, it would be nice to finally have a politician or leader conscious about that point.
7. How would you describe Antonio Ben Chimol products to a blind person?
I will ask them to touch it!
8. What’s coming up next season for Antonio Ben Chimol?
I keep this a secret.
9. What is your life and career mantra?
Be yourself in the good as in the bad, no matter what they say.
I think I may be taking this on as my mantra too!
The Interview has been edited for grammatical accuracy.