Gaetano Pesce, the accomplished Italian architect and furniture designer, woke up one day to discover that he had, quite inadvertently, created 250 pieces of jewellery. The brightly coloured resin rings, necklaces, bracelets and pins, which piled up in his New York studio and are now part of an exhibit at Galerie Basia Embiricos in Paris, started as a mere weekend hobby for the 73-year-old designer.
'I've always liked working with materials I don't know anything about,' says Pesce. 'So one day I just started experimenting, and slowly I started coming up with pieces that were quite innovative.'
Friends used to pass by, he says, and leave wearing a ring or bracelet. 'I never thought of it as a business until my friend in Paris suggested doing an exhibition.'
Made from a heated urethane resin compound, the pieces look like techni-colour drip castles for the body. None of them are based on sketches, and all are the result of roughly an hour-long, free-form process which is half driven by Pesce's hand, half by the whims of the elastic material itself, with a dash of serendipity thrown in for fun.
'The resin became a friend,' says Pesce, like a giddy kid with a toy. And like any good friend, he's on intimate terms with the material's moods and how it will act up after 30, 45 or 60 minutes of being heated. 'I can dialogue with this friend to receive a certain stimulation and idea.'
Pesce's first foray into jewellery sparked his love for experimentation and freedom, but there's one traditional consideration he's thrown out the window: beauty. 'I work a bit in a malfatto [badly done] way,' he admits of the eccentric, unstudied results. 'It becomes a new kind of beauty, which I find very interesting.'
The designer concludes of his weekend hobby: 'It's a little bit like making cakes. I want to make a nice cake, a very good cake. But not a beautiful one.'