She now speaks perfect Spanish, and as a natural and passionate collector, she has visited every market in the city, and everywhere she travels to as well. She has an amazing ability to find treasures in the most unlikely places, and has a strong eye for collecting powerful and personal art. In her travels through Central and South America, she has gone off the tourist's path to personally meet artisans and artists.
Meeting Esther was a turning point in my path as a jeweler. Her reaction to my work made me see that I could trust my taste and my instincts, and it confirmed my feeling that if I make what I love, there will always be someone who loves it too. I will be forever grateful for Esther's support during these past years, as she has continued to purchase her favorite pieces from my collections, and has also inspired me to stay true to my own voice as a jeweler.
I visited Esther in her home a few months ago, to interview her about her passion for collecting, and to document her beautiful textile, art and jewelry pieces.
I look for quality in design. I look for proportion, and I notice what materials are used. If it is a textile, I appreciate harmony in color, fabric and texture. I will always value creativity over price, or over the fact that I will wear a piece.
It has taken me years to develop a certain taste, and for my eye to distinguish a quality piece. It required training in the wider sense: I grew up in a home filled with beautiful objects, because both my parents studied visual arts. I loved going with them to museums and getting lost in a painting. I also drew and painted from an early age, and in college, I studied Art History. When I find colors that work together, I get enormous pleasure. For me, it is like listening to a great piece of music.
When did you begin collecting?
At a certain point in my life, it was no longer enough for me to see a beautiful object in a museum. I wanted to own it and live with it, even if I didn't necessarily use it. I think I began collecting when I was young and somebody gave me a large letterpress drawer (setzkasten), which I hung on the wall. I began placing small objects that I collected in each section: a stone, a ring, a piece of wood, a drawing. I was twelve years old. I am a visual being. For me, it is very important to be surrounded by beautiful objects. I am affected by visual disharmony, even more that I am by air pollution. It makes me feel uneasy.
What do you feel when you purchase a piece?
I think that when I select something I am attracted to, I connect to a need that came from my mother. She had a happy childhood in Poland, in a town called Oberschlesien Schwarzwaldau (a black place in a dark forest). When the Second World War ended, the Russians occupied her town and she and her family had to flee. They were only able to take a few belongings, and my mother never recovered from the shock. She and her family moved to Germany, and she became a typical refugee: she lost her home, her country, her language, and her self-esteem because of it.
I was my mother's first child, and I had such a deep empathy towards her, that I've often dreamt about the loss she went through. Owning things makes me feel safe. As I collect, I get a feeling of security and pleasure knowing I am recreating a place that no longer exists. When my mother married my father in Germany, he designed and built her a beautiful home, but they only lived there for a few years, because he got a job in Teheran. Again, my mother -and all of us- were transplanted to a completely different culture. I have moved fourteen times in my life, so I too have few roots.
Every object that I collect has a story. The journey I took to find it, the person I met who made it, our conversations, our connection; all of it is present in the object. Collecting is the way in which I connect and relate to the world around me. It is how I learnt Spanish. Visiting markets is how I get to know a culture, the food, the language, the stories each person shares. I am very curious; I could have been a journalist.
What is your relationship with the people who make the object you are purchasing?
An important aspect of my interest in collecting is that I genuinely care about the artisans I meet. I find that people who work with their hands have a special sensibility and joy. I know they are grateful to see how much I appreciate their work, it is an experience they do not have every day. When I meet them, I want to learn everything I can about their craft, why they chose certain colors, how the piece they are making is worn, and what it means to them.
I once visited a school near San Luis Potosí, in a town called Santa Maria, where they make rebozos. It was a Saturday, and as I walked past empty classrooms filled with afternoon light, I reached the last room and found a young man who was making a rebozo on a wooden loom. He was working in silence, surrounded by white walls, concentrated, as if in meditation. I approached him and asked about his work. As he spoke, I could see he was happy that I was interested, because he cared about his work and had few occasions to talk about it. He said most people thought he made hammocks. I treasure moments like these.
Is there a limit in the price you are willing to pay for something you love?
The price has to be in relation to the quality of a piece. I do have limits, but sometimes it will be worth paying more for a piece than I had foreseen. The limits I have on spending make me look more closely. The search is important, not just walking into a store and buying everything I want, which can be boring. This search connects me with the world.
The first time you saw my work, what made you stop?
It is a moment I remember, and a sensation I rarely have. You know I love visiting markets -and I rarely say this- but your jewelry really stood out. It is difficult to see pieces of such quality in terms of design. Your jewelry transmits something that is hard to find: your history, your artistic background; it is a style that has a lot to do with drawings, and graphic design.
The harmony between shapes, proportion, texture, light and dark are like that of a good drawing. Your work is alive; nothing seems traced with a ruler. I love that you are playing with the same basic shapes: a circle, dots, lines, and that is how you are creative. Your pieces are pure and authentic; they have handschrift, the mark of your hand. I also love that your jewelry goes with every type of clothing and occasion; it is timeless and lasts a lifetime.