EXCLUSIVE: Architecture’s asymmetry turned into art jewelry

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Interview with Romanian-born Angela CIOBANU, architect and international jewelry designer, about being the happiest person on earth by doing exactly what you like in life.

Young Angela is on her way now, guided by pure talent. Find out ‘what’s bad for the heart is good for the art’ in her opinion…

credit photo: Michael Schindegger
credit photo: Michael Schindegger

You’re Romanian, but now you live and work in Austria. You’re an architect, but you turned to jewellery. How was it all this journey of yours? Is it there a ‘genetic inheritance”? Do you have any jeweler in the family?

I have no architect and no jeweler in my family. I went for architecture out of passion and for jewelry out of a bigger one. Considering the ‘journeys’, there must be some ‘nomadic’ gene in my DNA code 🙂 , as I do indeed love traveling a lot. However, there isn’t such a long distance between architecture and jewellery, and Vienna is only 1.5 h away from Bucharest.


You participated in many exhibitions around the world – SIERAAD Amsterdam, INHORGENTA (FORUM INNOVATION) Munich, HOMI Fair Milan, JOYA Barcelona, BEIJING INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY METAL & JEWELLERY ART EXHIBITION, World Art Museum, Beijing, China, PARALLEL WORLDS collective exhibition at ‘Alliages Gallery’, Lille s.o. – and won many awards. What was actually the moment that simply powered you?

In June-July 2012 I participated at ‘Who’s Next’, Paris, and this was my first international event. After this event, there were many others to come, but I think the moment I really felt I was on the right track was during the 2014 edition of Joya Barcelona, when I presented my Forget-Me-Not series for the first time.

 2_foto_Mircea_Struteanu ring forget me 23_foto_Angela_Ciobanu


Your first piece of jewelry was a ring that you created in 2010 and sadly you lost it. Have you tried to recreate it in your future collections?

I like to think of that ring now as of the ‘coin’ I had to pay for crossing a certain line in my life. Perhaps it is nothing of this kind, in reality, but the thought offers me a bit of comfort each time I look back and get angry about losing that piece. Before ever working jewellery, I returned to Bucharest from Brussels, where I had been working in architecture.

first ring
the first ring

This was in March 2010. When seeing the results in my work, I decided to stay for a while and continue with jewelry, without being sure for how long this would happen. It was in November, I believe, that I participated for the first time in an event and won the ‘Autor’ Award. A few days later, I was flying back to Brussels to attend an interview for a new and very attractive job as concept architect. It must have happened in the airport that I lost it, but by the time I got home the ring was missing.

In the end, I decided to go back to Bucharest, where I continued as an apprentice in David’s studio for one more year and a half, until I moved to Vienna.

As for recreating it, soon after I made the ring, somebody ordered me a new one, different but bearing the same style. It was the first order I have received.


Rings, earrings, brooches are part of collections with beautiful names such as ‘Forget-Me-Not’, ‘Scratched Beauty’, ‘The Flow of the Point’… What’s next?

I am currently working on developing the body of works that I started last year, ‘Hollow’. But apart from that, I started the work on some other pieces, something totally new for me, as you will see.


The objects that you create are unique. What inspires you when creating jewelry and what are you looking to express in a gem?

Hard to point at something in particular. I guess it is a mixture of events and my own feelings and thoughts about them. My own perception transposed into something that can be worn on the body, as a piece of jewelry. Strong emotions are, probably, the best stimuli for creativity and there are some wise words that say ‘what’s bad for the heart is good for the art’. Not necessarily willing to accept it, true however.

_MG_4532 copy

_MG_4621 copy

_MG_4691 copy

How long it takes you to work on a piece?

It depends a lot on the piece and on my mood, as well. It could take some hours or several days. The hardest part is, however, the one preceding the work on the bench itself, the one where I put together my thoughts and ideas. For this, it is very difficult to define a time limit.


Last year, one piece from your “Forget-Me-Not” was purchased by Alliages Gallery, Lille, being part of the permanent collection. What means this for a young jewelry designer?

‘Come Closer’ brooch

In fact, two of my pieces are now part of Alliages permanent collection. Apart from the ring that has been purchased, the brooch ‘Come Closer’ became part of the collection last year, as a finalist of the Alliages Award.

The collection is meant to be donated to a museum, therefore the pieces will then become part of the museum’s collection. It is certainly an honour for any artist, young or old.



Have you ever lived a moment when you would have rather hidden the fact you are a Romanian?

Certainly not. There are, however, moments when I would gladly hide the fact that I am human, if I could. 🙂


What are your strengths in the contemporary jewelry world?

I never think of myself in terms of strengths or limitations and I honestly don’t know what to answer. It could be the very aspect that you pointed out in the beginning of this interview: my background in another academic domain and in another culture.

97_foto_Angela_Ciobanu48_  79_foto_Angela_Ciobanu



Doing something different from what you have been initially trained for and living in a place far from what you have called ‘home’ for a long time gives you the chance, I believe, to look at things from various points of view, that you might have otherwise ignored. It also gives you a certain flexibility and the courage to move further, as you are already out of that safe comfort zone. And I perceive this as a big advantage, in any domain, not only contemporary jewelry.

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