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Zen and the art of turning technological junk into slick contemporary jewels

  • Design
  • - 27 March 2015
    paola-mirai-10

    What corresponds in the collective imagination the notion of “a complete artist”? The idea of an artisan, or that of a sculptor-painter or architect-designer or maybe even of that of the genius of Leonardo’s memory?

    Maybe of all these profiles put together and no one in particular. Yet, beyond the way of expression, the concept of a complete artist marries, in the first place, with the image of the seeker. The seeker is the one who does not stop before the unknown but, armed only with his own intelligence and passion, deepens, studies and sweats, in order to understand and succeed.

    Able to express his genius, able to communicate it. Communicate his own passion time after time through the artistic expression best suited or through the use of an innovative language. A language which is close to his way of feeling and seeing things.

    This idea of the artist is that which best reflects the versatility of Paola Mirai. Paola grew up in advertising and worked, until the early 2000s, as an Art Director. She loves to communicate and build images through the use of different languages borrowed from cinema, from comics and from the world of art in general. Up to the point where work has allowed her to proceed, even in an artisan way, armed with paper, scissors and glue – like what used to happened during the planning of advertising campaigns – the professional experience of Paola proceeds in a linear fashion. But with the coming of the digital age, the use of computers, the need of continuous updating hardware and software marked the beginning of Paola’s search.

    A search which extends along two parallel tracks. On the one hand, Paola focuses on the discovery, recycling and innovative use of what lies behind the world of technology. A world that is seemingly cold yet in reality is the highest expression of human ingenuity; the history of mankind, since the dawn of time to the present, is all contained in a chip. On the other, the artist began to experiment with transparent materials which allow her to emphasize her discovery and at the same time does not add anything to the beauty of what is already present in the circuits of computers, in the gears of a watch or in the mechanisms of radio and other electronic devices. Paola has decided to bring together men’s sizes with those of a woman by creating jewelry which may unite these two worlds.

    The search for a perfect medium, transparent and flexible, soft and durable at the same time, has taken five years and has brought Paola to the discovery and to the reuse of a polymer normally used in the aerospace industry. With constancy and perseverance, thanks to the help of chemical experts and goldsmiths, Paola has finally been able to get the result she was expecting. The simplicity of a translucent material embraces, like amber around the complexity of microcircuits. Contemporary artifacts become the key players of a dialectic of fullness and emptiness which seems to wink to Oriental art and to the works of Chinese Calligraphers. At the same time, bracelets, rings and pendants have become showcases of contemporary beauty and evoke reflection on the obsolescence of the  ‘fossils of 2000′ by Munari; not surprising, she is also fascinated in the art of zen.

    The value of Paola’s creations has been quickly understood by museums which she herself contacts and to which entrusts her work. The pieces made have multiplied and have been split into two main collections: Cirkuita and Orotrasparente. Cirkuita reflects her first love; recovered technological pieces are dipped in polymer that, in Paola’s hands, are modeled into rings, earrings and pendants. However, in the second collection, Paola has chosen precious materials and combines the polymer with gold leaf, pearls, rubies and other stones which are entrusted to the transparency of the innovative material, made into jewelry.

    The artist’s research continues on many fronts. Every point of arrival becomes stimulus for the launch of a new start. Furthermore, Paola is also committed on the educational front. She has developed workshops for children and organized by the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo da Vinci” and the Triennale in Milan. She wants to convey her passion and the meaning of her research to younger generations. Research which is the basis of her work and is the necessary model from which to start any experiment, without expecting to “succeed” but rather for the sake of traveling and discovering new worlds of possible expression.

    Paola Mirai’s workshop can be found in the area of the Navigli, on the ground floor of an old court-house. Visiting this space is the best way to discover the artistic-artisan dimension Paola is submerged in. It is a real workshop where she creates, assembles and works. But the large loft is also a studio in which are immersed – just like in the precious orotrasparente (“transparent gold”) – all the jewelry and sculptures in addition to the materials and furniture she salvages and brings back to life.

    Via Pietro Custodi 12, Milano

    www.paolamirai.it




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    2 Comments

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