Who said bigger is better? Eschewing the established scale of billboard-sized campaigns, New York-based jeweller Jean Prounis has collaborated with miniaturist Carmen Mazarrasa, an artist who specialises in creating hyper-detailed diminutive dioramas packed with charm, to realise a unique installation at Dover Street Market New York.
The doll’s house-sized home crafted by Mazarrasa – named Palazzo Prounis – contains grand ambition. The jewels playfully take on the role of characters within a domestic setting, gaining an anthropomorphic quality. A green tourmaline and 22ct gold ring – humorously dubbed ‘Edith, a staunch bohemian’ by Prounis – lounges in bed reading a novel, while a garnet cabochon gold bracelet – Edith’s regal grandmother – reclines on a chaise longue, poised to pour a glass of wine, and pearls sit in the bath. ‘When I discovered Carmen’s miniature worlds during the height of the pandemic, they brought an inspiring energy to an unusual time,’ says Prounis. ‘It was a time when home and personal space became globally transformed.’
Working on a small scale allowed the duo to let their imagination run large. Working between New York and Madrid, where Mazarrasa is based, the pair shared references to places, homes and objects they coveted, such as rare Neoclassical sculptures: ‘Places like this, immense wonders of the architecture and design world, can seem so far removed from our own reality. By taking these references and transferring them into a small scale, Carmen and I seek to allow these spaces to become within reach of anyone who visits the Palazzo,’ says Prounis.
Palazzo Prounis: miniature world populated by jewellery
Mazarrasa, who also trained as a jewellery designer before pursuing miniatures, executes every room with painstaking detail and is a nimble master of carpentry, upholstery, oil painting, and much more: she can spend weeks sourcing the perfect fabric for a pair of miniscule curtains. Each book in the Palazzo library is hand-printed and references a real-life tome. A tiny cushion is embroidered with miniscule ‘JP’ lettering. But she uses humble everyday materials: recycled cardboard; porcelain; ceramic; handmade tiles; dry wall.
‘Scale is an amazing thing,’ says Mazarrasa. ‘When you take an everyday, recognisable, utilitarian thing out of it’s natural scale, you immediately render it useless – and that’s where the magic happens and your brain makes a small leap and goes into play mode. I look at full-scale objects and immediately start thinking of things I can repurpose to reproduce them. The biggest challenge is knowing when to stop!’
Jean Prounis is building a following from loyal sybarites who covet her exquisite pieces as everyday items that feel as special as heirlooms. ‘All of our jewellery is designed to be lived in; most of our collectors rarely remove their pieces and feel it is part of their own legacy and identity,’ she says. ‘Each piece is imbued with a deep history, derived from it’s ancient references but also from the ancient techniques that we employ in the construction of each piece.
‘Palazzo Prounis is a palace of memories, each corner and nook evoking a reminiscence and warmth of the anchors that objects can become for us when the world around us seems so volatile.’
The miniature Palazzo installation will be held at Dover Street Market New York from Dec. 8th - 31st, before travelling to LA
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Tilly is a British writer, editor and digital consultant based in New York, covering luxury fashion, jewellery, design, culture, art, travel, wellness and more. An alumna of Central Saint Martins, she is Contributing Editor for Wallpaper* and has interviewed a cross section of design legends including Sir David Adjaye, Samuel Ross, Pamela Shamshiri and Piet Oudolf for the magazine.
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