By Jacquie De Almeida
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is expected to be one of the most successful movies of all time. With ticket sales pulling in an estimated $161.1 million US in its opening weekend, it is well on its way to getting into the record books. That’s pretty impressive, which makes the news that one of Canada’s own jewellery designers is prominently featured even more impressive.
Montreal-based designer Claudio Pino is known for his sculptural and kinetic rings, his work seen in the pages of several publications, including Jewellery Business. We caught up with Pino to talk about his work in the movie and the creative process behind his designs.
JB: The Hunger Games is a worldwide sensation. How does it feel to be a part of something so big?
CP: I feel honoured! Seeing my sculptural rings worn by Stanley Tucci as ‘Caesar Flickerman’ in Catching Fire is such a great feeling! After more than 15 years of being dedicated full-time exclusively to jewellery design—in particular to one-of-a-kind rings—this unique vitrine opens so many new doors. It is a dimension of the world of jewellery design that I hadn’t explored before. The response has been amazing. Since the release of posters of Caesar Flickerman wearing my rings, I have received more than 100 e-mails. A few people have asked that I design custom rings in the same spirit of the one selected for this character. The Hunger Games has generated creativity, bringing together so many artists in different fields. For me, it’s a dream come true and, at the same time, a new horizon for my sculptural rings.
JB: Your design style is truly unique, so much so that anyone who is familiar with your work can pick it out quite easily. Was your goal always to create sculptural or kinetic pieces?
CP: Yes! My rings are principally recognized by their extravagant and sculptural characteristics. Each design is filled with details that tell stories through the special symbols found on the bands. Sometimes, the details are hidden inside the band or under the stone, which makes them exclusively for the owner to see and enjoy. Each design is a never-ending search for a unique combination of physical attributes, sculptural portability, and conceptual research, as well as an extension of the wearer’s body. It must feel extremely natural to him or her, yet always different to anyone looking at it. For me, this allows my creativity to flourish continuously.Â
In fact, it was in 2000 that I began making a series of kinetics rings that evolved from one I had that featured a beautiful Australian fire opal. I was trying to find a way to show how amazing the gemstone was when it was in motion. I wanted to show everyone all the different bright blue and purple flakes it offered. Thus, I created a small mechanism for the first time where the stone was free to move and yet always faced the wearer. Over the years, I developed by own esthetic signature, forever challenging my imagination with every new design I made.
This is what brought me to The Hunger Games costume stylist, Trish Summerville. Everything started following the exhibition, “Innovation and Craftsmanship in Metal: Jewelry Artists of Quebec” at the Aaron Faber Gallery in Manhattan in May 2012. Lilian Raji was public relations director for the exhibit and when she saw my rings, she had a vision! She felt my signature style was the perfect fit for the unique world of The Hunger Games. She presented a few of them to Trish, who agreed with Lilian and selected my rings ‘Interactive Mirror’ and ‘Vena Amoris’ to be worn by Tucci’s character, Caesar Flickerman. These two rings explore ‘extravaganza,’ ‘uniqueness,’ ‘luxury,’ ‘contemporary,’ and ‘futurist.’ They are glamorous with precious and exclusive embellishments. For these designs, I was inspired by old navigational instruments. For instance, ‘Interactive Mirror’ creates the impression of a third eye with a kinetic mirror that rotates 360 degrees in four directions, all thanks to a carefully designed and complex mechanism and the movement of the wearer’s hand.
JB: I noticed in your bio that you say your rings only come alive when they find their owners. How does that philosophy affect your design process?
CP: When I draw a design, I do so knowing that one day it will find its owner, who will create a special relationship with it. This relationship helps incubate the concept. Sometimes, people contact me first to custom design a ring, talking about the one they love or themselves so I can make jewellery especially for them according to their personality. I really love to have this kind of exchange with a client—it is always an honour to have that chance. With the kinetic rings, the relationship is even more intricate, since their mechanisms give the set gemstone the freedom to follow the owner’s movements, reflecting him or her in many small, intricate ways.
JB: What advice do you have for designers looking to create an impact such as yours?
CP: My advice would be to persevere, stay disciplined, and to study extensively the history of jewellery. In addition, they should develop both the conceptual and technical aspects of each design and take some risks. Push forward your ideas without imitating what has been done in the past. When you do so, you’ll see your efforts being rewarded and creativity flourishing continuously. Before all else, the most important thing is to keep the flame of your passion for jewellery design alive and nurture the artist within you!