Interview with Eleonora Federici of Gioielleria Marinone from Italy

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Eleonora Federici

From a young age, Eleonora Federici parents were immersed in a passion for art across various domains, given their roles as jewellers who consistently provide their clientele with exquisite gems in Italy.

Interview With The 2023 MUSE Design Awards Winner – Eleonora Federici

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I may have been one of the few children to visit the Uffizi Museum in Florence three times by the age of 15.

My parents surrounded me with a love for art in every form and field, as they are jewelers who always offer their customers the finest jewels and collaborate with the best designers and craftsmen in Italy. Art, quality, and high-end jewelry flow through my veins. I graduated with honors in Modern Art and later became a Gemologist which was a real game changer for me as gemstones became my first real muse.

From the start, my mother allowed me to take the reins of direction for the creation and production of custom-made jewelry in the family shop. I also learned how to carve wax to create my own models and later acquired bench jeweler skills.

My latest achievement was completing the Jewelry Design & Technology course at the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad (California, USA), the foremost institute in the world. I earned my Jewelry CAD/CAM designer diploma there. There one of my projects, the single earring "The Hummingbird," won the recognition from the school.

I always believed that my jewelry and designs were special, so after that, I decided to prove my worth to myself and the world. In 2021-2022, I entered "The Hummingbird" into three competitions and won two international awards! This year, I achieved two more important milestones: winning this award and receiving the Silver NY Product Design Award for my bracelet "Model IV" (pronounced as the Roman numeral four).

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?
I think I was born to be a designer. I have always had great creativity, a love for art, and a desire to express something deep and leave something in the world after me. I don't see a big distinction between different types of designers; design is design. Of course, what distinguishes my jewelry from many others is a modern style that is also resistant to changing trends, and above all, wearable and comfortable.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

I am the Creative Director and Jewelry Designer of the historic family-owned jewelry store - Gioielleria Marinone (Pavia, Italy). My father and mother passed it down to me and my brother Carlo, who works alongside me and also handles the watchmaking part of the business. Our jewelry store was founded in 1980, and I have almost twenty years of experience in the field.

Along this long journey, I have been able to develop technical skills, knowledge, and experience that few can boast in the industry, and I am very proud of them. I am capable of overseeing the production of a piece of jewelry from the initial idea to the finished product. Being a qualified gemologist, I am not only able to select the best stones for my shop and my jewelry pieces, but also to guide customers in choosing the best for themselves. I have experience in purchasing, having attended international trade fairs and visited gem-producing countries. I have a 360-degree view of the industry, something that rarely happens in a simple jewelry designer.

Having an idea in mind does not mean that it is producible, and often beautiful ideas must be substantially modified so that they can be. With the qualification of CAD/CAM Jewelry designer today, I can also design my models with 3D software, reducing waste, optimizing production, and giving my clients the opportunity to see their jewelry through renderings even before it is produced.

It is a highly bespoke service that is increasingly hard to find in a world where mass production has led even major brands to no longer adapt to their customers. I have a different vision: the piece of jewelry as a wearable work of art, as a unique and inimitable piece, or customized to the customer's liking.

4What does “design” mean to you?

To me, design means Art, perfection, emotion, innovation... it is what distinguishes a product that is eternally beautiful from one of poor quality, the one that you get tired of after a few months or years of purchase. Design adds value that is not yet appreciated in many cultures today, but it will soon find more and more space. I am sure of this.

What was Leonardo da Vinci, for example, if not precursor of what we would now define as design? He is considered by many to be the first designer in history, as he was able to create works of art that combined form and function perfectly. His vision of design was based on art, but also on science and technology, and this is what made him so innovative for his time. Today, design has evolved, but the multidisciplinary approach and attention to form, function, and technology are still essential to creating high-quality products.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
I appreciate all types of design, of course my favorites are fashion design and product design. But I am also very fascinated and drawn to interior design because it in some way relates to my own field: the relationship between people and space. And also the jewelry I design is a sharing of space between our bodies and an object that characterizes it, embellishes it, and expresses it.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?
A good design is the one that remains timeless and still relevant after years of its creation. Is the one that improves the user's experience and adds value to their life. Last but not least, has to evoke emotions and be memorable.
7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

I don't believe I can fully encapsulate my artistic style with a simple description, as my imagination knows no bounds and is free to explore any inspiration that comes my way. With nature's ever-changing beauty and the fluidity of motion as my primary sources of inspiration, my designs are incredibly diverse and unique, each one a testament to my vision and artistic philosophy.

I strive to create pieces that are one-of-a-kind, and exceptional in every way, a reflection of my unwavering commitment to the craft. Each design embodies my passion and creativity, while remaining deeply respectful of the beauty and wonder of the world. In short, my designs are a reflection of my artistic ethos, which seeks to capture the essence of the world's beauty in every piece I create.

8Tell us about your design process.

My creative process is truly unique. I begin by creating the piece in three dimensions within my mind's eye. Have you seen the hit TV show, 'The Queen's Gambit'? Like the chess champion in the series, who could see the chess pieces moving in three dimensions on the ceiling, I too possess this gift. It allows me to envision the piece with absolute clarity. This is why the transition from my mind to the finished 3D artwork, whether created using 3D software or hand-carved wax, is natural and intuitive.

I don't really need to draw anything on paper. I almost always go straight from the initial idea to the modeling phase. Of course, during the process, I may make improvements and changes to the initial concept. But the power of my imagination is such that I am able to bring it to life in its three-dimensional form with precision and clarity. It is a gift that has served me well in my artistic endeavors and is the reason why my work is so unique and captivating.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

I firmly believe that my country bears great influence when it comes to the appreciation of beauty, the harmony of forms, and the cultivation of art. However, my personal creative process is quite unique, as I have previously described. In my mind, my creative process transcends borders and cultural boundaries, taking me on a journey of discovery and exploration that knows no limits.

Through my work, I transcend cultural boundaries and explore new avenues of creative expression. I am inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds me and the many different cultures that I have encountered throughout my life.

While my work may be influenced by my surroundings and my heritage, my creative process is shaped by my imagination, my curiosity, and my passion for my craft. It is through this unique lens that I am able to create works that are truly exceptional. I believe that my work represents a synthesis of tradition and innovation, melding classic forms with contemporary sensibilities to create something truly special and unique.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
It means a lot to me to receive this award distinction. Personally, it is a great source of satisfaction because creativity often requires courage and belief in oneself and one's dreams. When a panel of international judges recognizes your work as among the best in the world, it provides a boost of energy and self-confidence. This award validates my belief in my dream of becoming a renowned jewelry designer who leaves a mark.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

I entered this project because it represents what I am going through as a person and an artist. It fully embodies the three principles that are fundamental to me: beauty, wearability, and being a bearer of an important message. The most important part of this design is its message, as it symbolizes the moment when change - which also brings destruction and detachment - generates something new and wonderful.

It represents the pinnacle of the process of renewal and transformation that we all, as human beings, must go through sooner or later. The gemstone, a blue topaz, is a metaphor for the human being trying to emerge from the old and escape from limiting and suffocating beliefs. It is a representation of our conscious or unconscious struggles to break free and realize our full potential.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The most significant challenge here was to convey a message of disruptive change through a piece of jewelry that was also elegant and harmonious. Two concepts that seem to be in complete antithesis.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

This is not the first award I have won. With the single earring "The Hummingbird," I started this journey to establish myself and find recognition for my talent beyond my local context. Participating in competitions at this level pushes you to give more, to never settle, to demand perfection.

A lot of people and friends has always told me that being very demanding and critical of myself, aspiring to perfection, is a limitation and a flaw. I never believed them. And winning at these levels proves me right and encourages me to continue with my philosophy.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
The constant need for research and innovation, the opportunity to create something new and improved with each project, and the daily challenges that keep me motivated and engaged.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?
I am Italian! What else is there to say? Italy has an acknowledged long and rich history in art and design, dating back to the Roman Empire and earlier... Italian design is known for its elegance, sophistication, and attention to detail. Italian designers have had a significant role in the global design industry, influencing everything! "Made in Italy" is still a symbol of the best in the world.
16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
We will certainly see a greater development of new technologies, as AI begins to take its first steps into the world of art. In a few years, we will find ourselves facing a different world, where many beliefs and deeply rooted preconceptions will be shaken up. I have always been drawn to technology, which is why I became a CAD/CAM designer, and I believe that the collaboration between humans and machines can lead to incredible and extraordinary developments.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
Don't limit your imagination, don't listen to those who don't believe in you or don't understand your style. Keep moving forward, work hard with passion, and the results will come.
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
Network and communicate with your peers, utilize social media and the internet as sources of information to stay up-to-date. Learn from anyone around you. And if you feel that the world is evolving, take courses to enhance your skills and keep up with the times.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
When I was young, I loved art so much that I wished to become an art conservator as an adult, so that I could spend my days surrounded by the beauty and history of some of the world's most precious artworks. Now, my aim is to create Art with jewels.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

There have been several people who have inspired me. Some I have never met, like the great unappreciated artists of the past such as H. Matisse or Vincent Van Gogh. They were outsiders like me, but changed the world artistically speaking.

Some have been with me since the beginning, like my parents Anna Maria and Daniele, who started with little money but had big dreams and the courage to risk everything to follow their true passion.

Others have only been in my life for a short time, and they are the ones who disappointed or betrayed me. I won't name them, but I want to thank them because they made me stronger and showed me exactly what I don't want to be.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Be persistent in a positive way. This means having self-confidence in who you are and not giving up on achieving your dreams.
22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Yes, I want to thank all the people who believe in me. I won’t let them down. And I will honor the memory of my father who passed away untimely last year and had always been proud of me.

Winning Entry



This bangle was inspired by the idea of disruption, which is linked to the concept of rebirth and renewal. The …
(Read more at MUSE Design Awards)

Eleonora Federici

From a young age, Eleonora Federici parents were immersed in a passion for art across various domains, given their roles as jewellers who consistently provide their clientele with exquisite gems in Italy.

Read more about Eleonora Federici’s interview for the 2023 NY Product Design Awards here!