Reza Esmaeeli in interview by Tom Davis
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS, Interview by Tom Davis, Jewellery Focus, Editor
“Combining architecture and fine jewellery, Sepanta Design draws on the unique patterns woven into Persian carpets as the inspiration behind its design-focused pieces. Reza Esmaeeli talks to TOM DAVIS about the process behind the design”, Jewellery Focus, September 2016, P52-54.
What’s your background and how did you get into the industry?
We started Sepanta in 2014. Both my partner and I come from an architectural ha1/4kground but we always had a passion for creating jewellery pieces. It was a Christmas day that we sat down and decided we needed make a career out of this passion. It’s a totally different industry to the architectural sector, so we had a lot to learn about it and it wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be at the beginning. It took us much longer to get all the bits and pieces because at the beginning we were thinking about where this is going to be located. We both come from different countries, but we came to the conclusion that the UK and London is perhaps one of the best starting locations for us, as well as for us to be based. We then had to get to know the whole production line and everybody in the industry – who is who, who does what, who supplies what and just generally finding more about the production chain. That included sales and marketing as well so it took quite a while.
Tell us about the brand
It was our hobby and passion so we were always looking at jewellery pieces from other designers; we tried to look at who is in the sector and what they were doing to learn how we could define ourselves in the market. It took us a while and we had a lot of back and forth but we finally came to the decision that we really liked Sepanta as a brand and fine jewellery in general. At the same time, we very much like the qualities of other types of jewellery, which traditional and classic fine jewellery doesn’t have. We wanted to combine the aspects of different types of jewellery to create something that was our own, design-focused and luxurious. We used our skills as architects and product designer and designing on a daily basis, to find the patterns who could help turn our jewellery pieces into reality.
What type of jewellery does Sepanta create?
Our jewellery is based on the patterns from Persian carpets. This is something we fell in love with when we visited the carpet museum in Istanbul. We bought as many books as we could about Persian carpets and since then we have created a lot of documents that we have at home which we look at all the time and try to educate ourselves about it. It’s a source of inspiration and we try to use those patterns and bring them to life through our jewellery.
How do you bring your architectural knowledge into that?
The metal of the jewellery is done in the same way we work in the architecture industry. We make sketches of every design, we visualize it and then we put that into the computer. We use certain software that are not the same as the software that jewellers use. The software that we use is used mostly in the movie-making industry. It’s for the animation industry so it’s not as precise as software for jewellery, but at the same time there is much more flexibility for creating the fluid shapes and forms of Sepanta. Once we create the designs in a free-form way we then try to make them as precise as possible and up to the level they need to be for a fine jewellery piece.
You mention fluid designs, is that a big part of Sepanta?
Yes, because the pieces are always very different in the collections, as well as the different parts of the pieces. The lines constantly change so we need those special software to develop each piece of jewellery.
Your debut collection is Parria. Could you tell us about that?
Parria is our first collection and it took us a year and a half to create – part of that was because we are perfectionists and we wanted to make the design perfect, and the other part was that we had to learn the whole process while we were doing it. The design and making process was, very experimental in a way, we were trying to avoid doing it in the established methods and instead create our own unique way of doing things. We had a lot of tests, we made around 60 to 70 test pieces of the Parria collection before we got exactly what we wanted.
Are you working on any new collections?
We have two new collections that we are working on for IJL, and that was of course a much smoother process. We had already done it once before so the production chain ran much smoother. They are coming along well, they are almost finished but we are still working on a few little bits and pieces. The pieces have been liked by the people we have sent it to, so we are really looking forward to the launch. One of the collections is Zinat and the other is Mouj, which resembles the waves of a stormy sea.
Have you been affected by the rising price of gold at all?
Not really. The value of the piece is based on the time, energy and effort that we put into it. We spend at least three months. just to design one piece, and that’s what really establishes the price of the piece rather than the price of gold.
What type of materials do you use?
18-carat gold has been the stand out material that we have used so far, and they have different colour finishes; yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and black rhodium garmental finishes. We also use a combination of different colour sapphires and diamonds. We have a necklace in one of the new collections, which is my new favourite piece, and the necklace is in silver and the pendant is in gold. That stops it being too heavy around the neck.
How many retailers do you deal with in the UK?
It hasn’t been very straightforward so far because the typology of the pieces are difficult to tag. When we talk to the classic jewelers, it’s not something they have ever stocked and they are a little sceptical at first because they are not sure if they will have a customer for it. When we go to the more artistic and fashion-led boutiques that stock designer pieces, but those pieces are normally silver and fabric rather than gold and diamonds. We are still trying to find our place at the moment but our plan is to expand out of the UK if everything goes to plan. If we are going to be in five British shops then I think that is enough for us to start thinking about expanding out of the UK.
Which countries would you expand into?
We very much like the idea of moving into the United States because we think the design and the look of our jewellery would be very well received there. The galleries that we have seen in New York and Miami have designer pieces with fine materials, which is not as common in the UK. That’s something we’d like to do but it’s not in the near future.
How big is the company?
At the beginning, it was just Yevgeniya and myself. We now have three other designers who work with us, not as full-time but they have helped us with the design of the two new collections. That’s just the design aspect – the production stages all happen in collaboration with other companies.
What does the future hold for Sepanta?
In five years time we want to achieve our ambitions in the UK market, and in we are hoping we can move into the US and at least two other countries in Europe – ideally Italy and either France or Spain.