Nogol Zahabi, alangoo.wordpress.com
One of the most recognized designers on ALANGOO.com right now is Moein Shashaei. The architect and designer is known for his one of a kind metalsmith jewelry. He studied architecture at Tehran University and right now is studying communications and design at the Pratt Institute in New York City.
His brand name is Zangaar and he joined ALANGOO in September 2014.
The below interview is for ALANGOO Blog’s Designer Story.
Nogol: Why did you study architecture and how did that passion turn into your brand Zangaar?
Moein: It’s a very long story. You know in architecture you are mainly pre-occupied with forms and make forms that relate to a function. Going from architecture to jewelry making was more a practice and an interaction as an artist with forms that may have some issues with functionality. For me designing things that I could actually make myself was something that was lacking in Architecture, that of which I found in jewelry making.
Nogol: What does Zangaar mean and how did you come up with this name?
Moein: The first thing that appealed to me when I started making jewelry was my long time love for metals. When brass and copper change their color, they become “Zangaari” (the Persian word for the new color.)
I started calling my pieces Zangaari, because I thought that word in particular says more than anything about my jewelry.
Nogol: What is your design process? Do you sketch beforehand or do you play with the materials?
Moein: I do sketch but not in the same way as in typical jewelry workshops. In workshops, you have the one-to-one scale drawings of what you are going to do in the most meticulous way. That was never possible for me. The person who taught me jewelry making techniques kept telling me “You are blacksmithing, metalsmithing. What are you doing? This is not how jewelers work.” In my process I start with something that I know I want to make. I have a blurry image in my mind, and as I keep working the design becomes clearer.
Nogol: Then you go and search for the right metal to make your piece?
Moein: Or I just look at my shelf and I see what I have there.
Nogol: I saw you used a Persian antique Safavid period bird (c. 1501-1736) in one of your designs. Does it have a story to tell? Also in your other pieces you used old Iranian locks and bells….
Moein: I think that is a prime example of a piece that has a story to tell. I found the bird in an antique store in Isfahan. I just fell in love with it and I bought it. I had no idea what to do with it, so it ended up just sitting on my desk for more than six months. Then one day I was listening to Mohammadreza Shajarian and heard the lyrics “homaye oje saadat be dam ma oftad, agar to ra gozari bar magham ma oftad.”
In that moment I thought “Oh! Homa”. In Persian homa is a bird which we believe if it sits on your shoulder, or if you find it and make it your own, then you will have eternal bliss. It was then that I realized that I wanted to make something based on this. I know its not a piece of conventional jewelry. I just wanted to create something to make it possible for this bird to sit on the shoulder and that was it.
Nogol: So in a way you didn’t think about a necklace to make; you thought about a structure that can carry this bird on ones shoulder?
Moein: Yes, exactly. Even now I don’t think it’s necklace. Do you?
Nogol: I thought it is a necklace but not just any necklace.
Moein: Oh good, thats enlightening to me.
Nogol: Tell us about taking Mr. Parviz Tanavoli’s classes (one of the master sculptors in Iran). Are you attending his classes now?
Moein: Yes, I didn’t attend any of his jewelry classes, but he was the person who influenced me and my practice the most. Even before I become his student, I adored him and my practice was influenced by his works and styles.
His modern and traditional fusion style of Persian art influenced me more than anything.
Nogol: When I look at your jewelry designs they all look like sculptures and some look like building plans, like the ring with an arch. Do you think that this is because of your architecture background?
Moein: That is a very nice question actually. I’d like to ask you, did you know I had an architectural background when you were looking at them?
Nogol: Well, when I saw your pieces on ALANGOO.com for the first time, I thought, “These are interesting. Something is different with this designer.” Then when I read “Moein is an architect.” I thought “That is the difference.”
Moein: Oh good, maybe you as an architect can understand that. I don’t know, but lets say it was not intentional, even if you can see it there. I never deliberately design in a way you would design a building. In contrast, when I was in art school and I started to design jewelry, I wanted to liberate myself from all those rigid rules of architecture school. So maybe most of my jewelries are improvized. I never have a pre-designed plan of what I am going to do like architects or professional jewelers have. I never have a completely vivid vision of what to do from the start.
Nogol: What inspires you and your jewelry making the most?
Moein: I could say Persian Architecture for example, but its not just that. I just look at my short practice and see what I was preoccupied by at that particular time. In one year it was Persian Architecture. The next year, jewelry became more serious for me and I loved to learn about the mechanics of Persian locks. So my inspiration became making locks. I didn’t care about jewelry; I just wanted to make locks. Now after five years and the journey I went through, I am in New York and studying and I don’t have the time like I did before. The things that tend to inspire me most are the things I find in daily life without deliberately looking for them.
Nogol: What do you see in Zangaar’s future?
Moein: I don’t know if its going to be a jewlery line or not. I doubted if it is jewelry so far.
Nogol: Are they going to be wearables?
Moein: Yes they are going to be wearable.
Nogol: In an ideal world what do you want to see from the platforms that are available, how do you want them to showcase your work?
Moein: I would like the platform to find the right target for my work.
Select pieces of wearable art by Moein is available on ALANGOO.com for purchase. Show support to independent artists, always!