Saida Mouradova, founder of Object & Dawn is a pioneer. In an exclusive interview with Ann-Marie Voina for Insight, she discusses her preference for the ancient over the ultra-modern and the importance of designing for the metaverse.
Image Credits: Digital rendering of The Rushi Headpiece System in Onyx, sold on DressX and The Artemisia Mesh Top, photographed by Aaron Lacy.
Saida Mouradova’s designs are centered around the notion of transformation. After feeling constrained by the mainstream and corporate mandates that stifled her creative vision, she set out to carve her own path and founded Object & Dawn — a luxury jewellery brand that merges ancient crafts with modern techniques to produce modular and customisable jewellery pieces. Velvet lined garter belts, complex headsystems and beaded harnesses: designs that will get you noticed and demand recognition for daring to approach jewellery as bodily adornment. Mouradova disovered her signature craft — an ancient beading method — during a visit to the Red Sand Dunes of Mud Ne in Vietnam. The technique itself leans to an almost tribal asethetic, but merged with Mouradova’s modern and worldy vision it becomes an interesting fusion that can only be described as metaversal. So it comes as no surprise that the designer’s latest venture explores just that: the metaverse. Read on to discover more about her creative process, her digitised collection in collaboration with digital fashion platform, DRESSX, and her take on minting NFTs.
Image credits: Digital rendering of The Rushi Headpiece System in Onyx, sold on DRESSX
AMV: When it comes to your creations there is an overarching emphasis on the transformative notion that they bring to the wearer.
SM: Our pieces are designed to help you bring out an empowered version of yourself. One that you might not be able to display in your usual day to day life. One of the things I love most is watching a client try on a piece for the first time and see themselves in the mirror. Suddenly, a sense of confidence washes over their face — their posture straightens, their shoulders pull back.
Most of our pieces are modular, meaning elements can be added or removed to make the pieces bolder or more subdued — they transform with your environment. Let’s say you’re at work and feel more comfortable in a smaller piece, many of our necklaces allow this. You can then add more components as you head to dinner or a dance party.
AMV: In terms of production, you have explored various possibilities, including 3D printing and casting. Then, you discovered an ancient beading method that delivered a unique experience to the wearer when worn.
SM: After the early experiments with advanced technology, I found too many shortcomings. 3D printing is fascinating and eventually will be part of production. But the tech just isn’t quite ready yet. Once I found and refined our beading technique, it became clear that ancient was better than ultra modern. Processes that have been used for hundreds of years can sometimes be far better than the most cutting edge technology. Since then, a key focus of our brand has been to find and preserve ancient techniques that are being obsoleted by mass market manufacturing. There’s a resonance in them that you can’t achieve with the most modern of factories.
Image credits: Daria Shapovalova is wearing an Object & Dawn digital Onyx Rushi headpiece digitized by DRESSX. Photo - Yana Tokarchuk and Sasha Spilberg is wearing Object & Dawn digital Onyx Eingana Crown and Blue Freja modular cape digitized by DRESSX.
AMV: You have a line of accessories and jewellery currently being sold on DRESSX — what prompted you to digitise your creations?
SM: With the Covid lockdowns last year, it became clear that brands had to go digital for presentations. We’ve long had an eye on the pulse of digital fashion and now you see digital worlds, AR & VR accelerating as well. Younger Millenials, Gen-Z and beyond live digital-first lives and we know there is a place for Object & Dawn in the Metaverse. We had been watching DRESSX for a while. Having been very familiar with the founders’ track records, we had no doubt they would execute well and likely revolutionize digital fashion. We felt the collaboration with them was an excellent early step in our digital product journey. A spokesperson from DRESSX affirms the partership. "Digitized for the first time in partnership with DRESSX, Object & Dawn 3D pieces allow even more creative freedom to our clientele, delivering magical, powerful, and artistic experiences to the digital wearers. The brand’s digital accessories available exclusively at DressX provide a truly unique opportunity to wear the world-renowned celebrities-endorsed handmade pieces in their digital versions at a fraction of their real price".
AMV: For someone who is actively invested in the tangible aspects of design — from the skills and craftsmanship that go into making the objects, to imagining how they should move and be worn — did you ever feel apprehensive about what digitising your objects would mean for your designs, your creative process and your customer?
SM: No, quite the opposite. We were excited about giving more people the opportunity to get a glimpse of the Object & Dawn experience. I’ve heard from many fans that they love our designs, especially the most elaborate headpieces and harnesses. But they couldn’t imagine themselves wearing one. With digital, you don’t have to imagine. You can get a sense of that empowered feeling easily and from anywhere before investing in a physical piece.
AMV: Do you see yourself continuing to implement digital designs into your collections? Have you considered producing NFTs?
SM: I’d love to see people wearing Object & Dawn in VR worlds such as video games. We’re exploring opportunities here. We also may collaborate with artists on NFTs. Like most, NFTs caught our attention during the big boom earlier this year. But we’re not going to mint an NFT just so we can say we did. It seems like a lot of brands are jumping on the bandwagon to ”check the NFT box” and be in the conversation. What’s more exciting to us is the opportunity to combine digital and physical experiences. Wearable art IRL and wearable art in the Metaverse, while also cultivating the Object & Dawn community through digital ownership. There are endless opportunities with NFTs and we’re monitoring the space closely. But authenticity is what got us here and it will always remain our guiding principle.
Words: Ann-Marie Voina