Ayca Ozbank 'MARA PARIS'

Ayça is an architect & designer based in Paris. She was born in a family of artists in Istanbul. During her childhood, she was immersed in art and creativity. This pushed her to study a discipline that would help her work in various fields. In 2005, she moved to Venice to study architecture as a first step of her journey that includes many locations. She has lived between Venice and Padua, studying in IUAV, surrounded by Palladio’s architecture and the cultural richness of one of the most surreal cities in the world. Then, she has settled in Milan, studying in Politecnico di Milano, within slightly more modern and fast-paced environment. Afterward, she has moved to Helsinki where she had the chance to experience the Scandinavian culture which has been fundamentally influential in her designs. She also lived in Berlin for a short while. Apart from the studies, places that she lived and visited have offered her a lot with their culture, art and design history. She finds it fascinating how our surroundings, whether it is the city, culture or people affects our approaches. Jewelry is closely related to identity. She designs jewelry as an expression of the creative energy from various inspirations of her. She tries to form each collection around a different concept, which then requires her to explore new approaches. She sees her designs as wearable sculptures that are aesthetically interesting.

Mara Paris started to flourish when she was moving from Helsinki to Paris in 2015. The core idea was to create wearable pieces inspired by architecture and modern art for people who love to wear and collect exceptional objects.

When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

At my very early age. When I was a kid my response to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” was “an architect”.

That’s because probably, I was born to a family of artists. I spent a lot of time surrounded by artist friends of my parents. The idea of working in a creative field gradually grew on me, and I decided to study architecture, a field in which I believe I could combine art and design.

How does your background in architecture influence your jewelry designs?

Architecture has very central role in my life. A lot of my thinking processes, inspirations and stories are tied together through architecture. Architecture is equally technical as it is aesthetical. Each project requires discovery of new materials and techniques. Methodologies and their skillsets help architects to research, anticipate, design, test and finally build volumes that function well and that are harmonious with its surroundings. I try to design each jewelry collection around a different concept, which then requires me to explore new approaches to materials and new techniques. I see my designs as wearable sculptures that are aesthetically interesting. They also need to function well. That is why I always rigorously test the first prototypes. In these respects, I find a lot of similarities within the skills of both disciplines. My latest collection “Form Is A Mystery” reveals the intrinsic connection between memory and abstract shapes. Each piece symbolizes recollections of my life in Helsinki, from my earlier experiences as an architect and designer to my discovery of Alvar Aalto’s work.

My “Curves” collection is inspired by deconstructionist architects like Gehry and Hadid. Jewelry pieces are shaped similar to the way they work with surfaces and curves in their designs. Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, especially its façade, was one of the most important inspirations. He designed a public building that enriches the city with light reflecting from its curves. I tried to design ear cuffs and earrings that adorn people with light reflections in a similar manner.

My “Two” collection, was inspired by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa. Scarpa worked as the president of the university that studied in Venice, IUAV. He has left modernist traces in Venice with his designs like Olivetti showroom and Brion cemetery. This always fascinated me and I tried to turn some of the details he used into jewelry.

What is your main source of inspiration?

It is a combination of multiple things. Mainly architecture and modern art. Different cultures have always inspired me. The places I have lived and visited have offered me a lot with their culture, art, and design history. I’m always amazed at how our surroundings affect our approaches.

 What is the relationship between traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design in your work?

I believe we form a great team with the craftsmen that I work with. Each Mara Paris piece is handmade and it takes nine craftsmen to make a Mara Paris jewelry. I have a huge respect for all the patience they have and the long production process that they go through. And I feel that in return, they respect my vision as a designer. We have a great relationship and they are highly motivated to materialize what I design.

What is the best advice you have received? What advice would you give to young designers?

I studied architecture in Venice at IUAV. I believe that one of the most important thing that I learned there is as designers we always have to have a process. It is not magic. For good design there needs to be a good design process.