Photos: George Alexandrakis Photography
Fey Papanikou started making jewelry while she was studying architecture. After she graduated, she focused on designing unique pieces of jewelry that were inspired by Greece and arts. Her jewelry is known for its simple and geometric shapes. Amphitheatre, a combination of traditional and modern forms, is one of her most recognized designs. Her jewelry is loved all over the world and she has many different collections with unique designs.
what does jewelry mean to you?
Jewellery is a creation and a way of expression, like any art form. Jewellery can be a construction that adorns the body and interacts with it. I would say it is applied art as it has been created from the beginning with the intention of being worn.
How did your connection with jewellery begin and when did you make the decision to become a professional designer?
This connection started in 2008, alongside my studies in Architecture and after I had attended workshops on jewellery. But I was always fascinated by the small scale, the making by hand and seeing the finished work in real time in front of me
After graduation I decided to apply all my knowledge and experience to what I found makes me happy to wake up in the morning and keeps me professionally alert.
Was there a jewellery designer who may have inspired you and for what reason?
The Brazilian Antonio Bernardo is a designer I admire a lot. His design principles are consistent and the overall result has identity and character. I am fascinated by the way he plays with volumes and three-dimensional forms. He is inventive, bold and at the same time apt and simple.
After so many years of career, what is it that makes you smile?
After 10 years on the road, what makes me smile is all the people I have met through this project, who have loved my work and are constantly looking forward to every new project and creation.
Something that has made me stronger and happier in the last year is the growth of the workshop’s potential, which is slowly growing and is made up of wonderful beings who enjoy all that is happening as much as I do . When you think about where you started and reflect on all the challenges you have had and still have, you can’t help but feel lucky and happy.
What are your inspirational sources?
The people I meet on the street, people I appreciate as well as my friends are my main source of inspiration. I enjoy observing every age and the charm that every woman exudes by creating jewelry that will be timeless.
I draw images from Architecture, travel, natural or cityscape, Greek history, tradition and then filter the stimuli and that is where the creation comes in.
What is the process from inspiration, to design, to the realization and the final exposition of the jewelry in your showroom?
The process from conception of the idea to realization has a long way to go. It starts with thoughts, sketches and research. Then with flexible materials that act as experimental tools to reproduce folds and volumes, paper models or anything that can render the form in the original template are made. This is followed by the perfect design of each piece individually and finally its realization with the materials I mainly use in all the collections, such as bronze, silver and gold.
How much time is needed for each new collection?
Usually it takes six months, but sometimes an idea can run around in my head for a long time until it comes to life. When the moment arrives, you know it and now the whole process comes effortlessly. The Labyrinth Collection came as a thought at some point in my life in early 2016, but it took two years for it to take on form.
I notice that your collections are structured in such a way that they appeal to different styles, from a casual to a more classic but also more rocky look… Do you consciously create your collections this way, do you observe people in the city or do you follow trends for what will sell easier?
I’m always impressed by how they take the same piece from a collection, wearing it in a different way and style, and make it their own and adapt it to their own aesthetic.
Is there a piece in your collection that you wouldn’t want to consign for sale, what is it and why would you not give it away?
From occasion to occasion there are individual pieces that have been created purely out of a need for my own expression, which are in a constant state of evolution, so it’s hard to define if they will ever be ready to part with.
How do you experience when you are asked for a custom design? Which order would you would never take on.
Custom made designs can be exciting as working with the person involved can produce a surprising result that none of us had in mind in the first place. I don’t usually undertake commissions that deviate too much from my design and style, nor do I undertake the realization of a piece of jewelry that someone has seen elsewhere.
What is your opinion of the copies that are being made by people presenting themselves as creators. How do you receive the widespread copying of your “Amphitheatre” design?
It’s something that has probably happened and will continue to happen. I find that people with inspiration and a strong need to create have original designs and so their path professionally is steady and long. If you lack this source need, you will always follow developments by imitating someone else’s work. In cases where you realize that this is to your detriment, you take a deep breath and move forward more vigorously. I guess they liked “The Amphitheatre” a lot after all!