Inspirations

Jewellery creation is a very personal affair. When I look back on the influences which have inspired me, I find that the Ari D. Norman design philosophy is composed of many elements which originate from events and experiences from my past that capture the story of my life.

Whilst living in Belgium, at an early age, I was enthralled by the Art Nouveau decorative interiors, which could be seen in Brussels and Antwerp. In my youth I visited Paris several times and was most impressed by the beautiful Art Nouveau ironwork outside each and every metro station.

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My fascination with the past led me to seek out original antique moulds for glass objects made in Victorian times and I adorned such glass pieces with sterling silver trellis work mirroring the feel of the magnificent and striking age of beauty…the Belle Epoque.

In addition I visited the Carnavalet Museum that displayed the original, stunning Art Nouveau exterior and interior of a jewellery shop designed by Alphonse Mucha when he went into partnership with a great Art Nouveau designer ~ Georges Fouquet. Prague too became a favourite city, where I happily wandered around the old town, marvelling at what had been the home of Alphonse Mucha and indeed I remember spending a complete day in the Mucha Museum absorbing the story of his life and studying his creations.

After the completion of my formal education, I embarked on adventurous journeys around the world visiting the Far East, India, North and South America, Scandinavia and Europe. My travels awoke in me an excitement and appreciation of contrasting cultural expression. As I travelled I was excited and delighted by the varied handicrafts displayed in the different countries.

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Whilst visiting the workshop of a master Mexican silversmith nick named “el mexicano”. I found myself inspired to modify some of his existing pieces in to my own creations; for example taking the swan neck of a salt and pepper shaker and turning it into the graceful handle of a letter opener.

In Taxco, Mexico I was drawn to the silver articles crafted by its many silversmiths who produced both bold and delicate pieces using the traditional methods passed on from father to son for many generations. In India I marveled at the skill of the semi-precious stone cutters of Agra who still to this day cut semi-precious stones and set them in intricate patterns in white marble just as their forefathers did hundreds of years ago when decorating the Taj Mahal.

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Seeing the Taj Mahal bathed in the light of a full moon I was fascinated by the delicate and intricate semi-precious stone hand set mosaics set in its marble. Nearby I sought out the families of stone cutters who descended directly from those that had adorned the Ta j Mahal centuries before. Resulting in a beautifully unique collection of white and black marble boxes hand set with semi-precious stones in patterns reflecting the beauty of the Ta j Mahal.

Before setting out on my travels my father always advised me to search in each country to try and find unique items that were made there. He said “Bring back a few samples son”. Being a diligent son seeking approval I took his words very seriously. Very soon my family home began to fill up with mysterious and exciting packages containing musical instruments, batik, stone ornaments, Mexican sweaters, jeans, onyx chess sets, inlaid
turtle shell jewellery from Sri Lanka, semi-precious stones set in marble boxes from India, jewellery and much more. When I finally returned home my father and I carefully sifted through the many varied treasures in the sitting room which had become a true “Aladdin’s cave”.

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A dazzling array of international handicrafts; Hand carved tiger eye hippopotamus from Hong Kong, hand carved stone figurine from India, turtle shell boxes with silver inlay from Sri Lanka, cast statues from Thailand, wooden flute from Peru, cloth stuffed toy donkey from Ecuador, abalone encrusted lion and fish statue giftware from Mexico, hand carved onyx necklace from Mexico, hand painted papier mache lion from Mexico, hand painted tree bark picture from Mexico, onyx table from Mexico.
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Watch strap from the original set of 6 samples which I purchased from the Carlos Rosenberg jewellery shop located in the centre of Mexico City which put me on the    “silver road”.

From this vast array the only pieces which sparked commercial interest from the many retail outlets that we approached was for silver jewellery from Mexico. Thus my journey into the world of silver began some forty years ago. Initially, I traveled to Mexico five or six times a year staying for two or three weeks at a time, returning with suitcases full of ethnic Mexican silver jewellery. After the jewellery was processed by the London Assay office we packed it into the boot of my father’s car which became a familiar sight driving up and
down the vibrant King’s Road, Chelsea.

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Examples of ethnic Mexican silver jewellery handmade in Taxco. In fact the owl and the bird pendants became much loved pieces worn by my mother.

Shopkeepers would come running out from their establishments stopping our car and asking for more of this and more of that and demanding to examine any new arrivals. After one or two years of trading in this manner, my creative spirit became inspired. I felt the need to design a unique collection of silver jewellery and gift items, rather than simply purchasing what was already available.

My inspiration was the beauty I saw in Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, these three became the basic building blocks of our design philosophy.

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Taxco handmade identity bracelet which I presented to my father in 1974 and subsequently also presented the same model to both my sons, Lee and Adam.
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A selection of the early pieces created by Ari D. Norman which convey the romance and excitement of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.

Without question, be it my first designs or the ones strewn across my desk as I write this, I built a business out of what inspired me, the adventure of the Victorian era, the romance of Art Nouveau, and the liberated spirit of Art Deco. Even now my emotions still stir when I think of the spirit and people of these eras. Imagining the life they led and the sights they saw still evokes great passion within. Combine these influences with modern taste, add the British hallmark, and I truly believe our creations are destined to be treasured antiques of tomorrow.

On occasion when I visit Portobello market and the like, I still chuckle when I see the occasional sign stating “Early Ari Norman hallmarked silver” I must admit sometimes it makes me think – maybe I’m the antique of tomorrow!

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Our family home since 1984 – a spiritual and creative oasis. Designed by Ernest Trobridge, with the authentic spirit of “an Englishman’s home is his castle”. Constructed using traditional English building materials.

In homage to all that has inspired me, throughout this catalogue you will find what I like to call the ABC’s of the Ari D Norman brand and family. Each letter of the alphabet below is dedicated to the many influences that have and continue to have creative influence on both Ari D Norman the man and the company:adn-2012-catalogue-9b

In the weeks and months to come I look forward to taking you with me on this trip down memory lane and  the winding roads of my past, present and future.

Warmest regards,

Ari Norman
Chairman & Managing Director
Ari D Norman Ltd
Argenta House
Argenta Way
London NW10 0AZ
England

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