As part of last week's annual fine-watch fair, SalonQP held at the Saatchi Gallery, the 'Gems of Time' exhibition returned for a second year to celebrate the intricacies and innovation of the jewelled watch. Curated by Wallpaper* watches and jewellery director Caragh McKay and designed by editor-at-large Leila Latchin, the exhibition presented an opulent backdrop from which to display the suite of dazzling and brightly coloured jewelled watches.
One of the key design cornerstones of the display came from fashion and beauty illustrator Nuno Da Costa, who collaborated with McKay and Latchin to produce the intricate wallpaper which depicted the jewelled pieces on show from the brands. 'It has lots of moving parts to it,' he says. 'The process of designing is fluid - you start with one idea then you develop.' Da Costa began with the surreal image of the hands and layered the pattern, careful to give each watch brand the same status.
His way of working almost reflects the jewelled pieces themselves in that it juxtaposes modern technological advancement with craftsmanship. 'Normally I will scan in a pencil sketch, print it, then paint on the print. Scanning it in allows me to save a copy, in a way, and gives me more freedom to experiment.' Da Costa aimed for a kaleidoscopic effect to mirror the brilliant hues of the pieces themselves, accepting mistakes as part of the process. 'Because I'm self taught, my mind hasn't been funnelled into any one way of doing things. I've learnt a lot through trial and error; if you make a mistake but put it in a different context, it's no longer a mistake. Illustration is like fashion photography before the digital - you don't always know where it's going to take you.'
Is he pleased with the finished result? 'The wallpaper's got an energy and a movement to it. Even though you're drawing something that's static, all the elements are working together to create a synergy.'