Images and words: Pedro Pinho
Lane Marinho is a shoemaker and Regina Dabdab is a jewellery designer. Those words might be limited to describe their work though. They both create visual pieces that are meant to be worn, yet they remain distant from fashion: something about their process goes against retail as we know it today.
Regina Dabdab at her studio.
I’m not a jewelry designer, and I’ll never be. I’m not conventional like that”
says Dabdab, who started out working for major shoe companies who moved her to France. However, the stress of it all started taking its toll. She slowly started approaching design from a different point of view, smaller, quieter. Glueing odd objects that she used to collect to make necklaces that soon got picked up in magazine editorials here and there. Regina never studied jewelry and her creation process was very fluid. “I taught myself how to design. There is a certain purity in classically trained designers that wouldn’t allow me space to get where I am today”. Her challenging designs are oddly different from everything out there: some necklaces use bones from a cow, unpolished crystals and driftwood.
It all happens at Vila Madalena, where Regina works in a small workshop. I arrived at 9 AM, in a quiet street, to encounter only two people working on details of a large order that had to be shipped that week. The place is quiet and it sorta feels like a home. No glass doors and music blasting, as you would expect in retail stores, the silence is almost sacred. I ask to see some of the pieces and her assistant immediately points to a necklace. “You should take a look at this one” she says as she hands me a necklace made out of pyrite. It is extremely simple, a large pyrite decorated with a gold pendant that resembles driftwood. Pyrite is also known as “fool’s gold” and that sort of breakdown comes up a lot in Dabdab’s designs: semi-precious stones are treated as delicate gems while precious elements such as gold and silver are broken down to resemble simpler materials, forms and textures. Hanging up in the studio, huge pieces made out of driftwood from Corsica, a sort of necklace for your walls. There aren’t many pieces though: “I’d never do an order of 500 necklaces, I’m not going to get any bigger, my work is exclusive.”
Lane Marinho at her studio.
Lane Marinho also works in a similar manner. She started out handmaking shoes, carefully measuring out each part of her client’s feet. Small natural stones sewn into strands of rope flourish each pair of shoes, with bold and bright colours. She quickly became known in town, probably because her process was just so damn charming. People would visit her apartment filled with plants, and have a nice conversation as she took measurements. It’s no wonder that a few clients decided to wear them as part of their bridal look.
Nowadays, you can still book an appointment with her at her new studio and she will personally open the door and talk about the shoes. Not just that: one quick look around the place and it’s obvious that her creativity goes way beyond shoemaking. Colorful cutouts of fabric sewn together hang from her wall and sketches of necklaces are open at her table. Lane is a very visual person and she stages the images from her brand herself in very meticulous scenes that pair her designs with palm trees, seashells and fabric. Lately that visual mind is particularly keen on pottery and she has been learning the steps that will enable her to manually create pottery from start to finish, molding to firing. The pottery pieces you’ll find in her studio resemble in some way Dabdab’s creations, that same kind of twisting concept, in which matter is visually manipulated to change it’s value or meaning. In this case, Lane molds pottery to resemble organical shapes: seashells, sea corals and natural stones. The earth becomes the sea.
Both creators share one similarity above all: everything, each little detail, touches their hands. If you want to buy some of their designs, you’ll have to talk to them face to face. They’ll carefully make each piece by hand and personally hand it out to you. It seems that they both have reached an interesting balance: quiet time alone to craft and real interaction with people that will get to use what you do. As Regina puts it: “My workshop in France was very lonely. And I believe it doesn’t make sense to be in Brazil and alone. Now, I love that I get to greet people at the door. It makes energy flow. I feel at home.”