Mayza Joao trained as an architect in Brazil and came to London to do an MA in Regeneration. In 2007 she changed tack and started making jewellery.
How is it being a jeweller in London?
Very exciting. There are lots of incentives offered to new designers and many opportunities to get involved in exhibitions here and Europe. These are non-existent in Brazil so I think I can develop more rapidly here.
What do you love most about London?
Cycling everywhere. It’s impossible in Brazilian cities.
What do you miss most about Brazil?
Brazilians are very gregarious, and it’s a less individualistic society, so it is very easy to make friends there. Meeting up with people is more spontaneous; here you always have to make arrangements in advance.
How does being Brazilian shape your aesthetic?
I studied architecture for five years at Brasilia University back in the 1980s and worked for many years as an architect before switching career. To be Brazilian is to grow up under the influence of Modernism. It’s a benchmark in our culture, and we love it, with its references to our beaches and our ethnicity. My jewellery is influenced by the sculptural and curvaceous features of Brazilian modernist buildings.
Do you have any plans to return to Brazil?
No. I will stay here for some time as I am selling my work abroad. I’ve already started in Holland. The Dutch were ’fed’ on Modernism as well and tend to like my stuff.