Vatna pendant from Flowen's Specimens collection.
ANGELES ó At first blush, the fossil laboratory at the
George C. Page Museum might seem like a strange place to
introduce a new fine jewelry line, but after seeing the
fossil-like earrings, scarab-beetle clutches and
shell-like webbed rings that make up the new Flowen
Specimens collection, itís hard to think of a more
appropriate place in the entire city than a mammoth boneís
toss away from the bubbling fossil repository known as
the La Brea Tar Pits.
collaborative effort from the L.A.-based wife and
husband team of Flavia Lowenstein and Juan Azulay,
Flowenís earrings, pendant necklaces, clutch purses
and rings are impossibly detailed, delicate-looking webs
of metal that all at once seem half biological, half
geological and all otherworldly, like prehistoric
sponges or insects frozen for eternity in amber.
an accessories designer," Lowenstein said.
"But I really wanted to create something meaningful
and different ó statement pieces. My mother worked in
an art gallery, so Iíve always been very much inspired
by art and sculpture, and my husband is ex-faculty (at
Southern California Institute of Architecture), trained
as an architect and also a media artist, so weíre
passionate about trying to push the envelope...."
designs introduced recently at an event at the Page
Museum are reminiscent of something Alexander McQueen,
Iris van Herpen or another avant-garde fashion designer
might do. Thin webs and loops of metal seem to grow
around diamonds like metal fingers of coral, turning in
on themselves to form intricate rings of double-walled
latticework or sprout like a pair of primeval brass
knuckles from the mouth of a leather clutch.
couple spent three years working on turning their
sketches first into 2-D computer models and then into
durable 3-D pieces. "Itís not 3-D printing, and
itís not casting," Lowenstein said. "The
pieces are grown from a sterling silver powder."
(Neither Lowenstein nor her husband wanted to discuss
the process in more detail for fear of giving away
proprietary information, saying only that the computer
end of the work is done in the U.S. and the jewelry is
"grown" in Italy.)
described the pieces as fossilized remains from a kind
of alternative past. "The theme is Ďnature as
imagined,í" he said, which means asking:
"What would the natural world look like through
these artifacts if it had (evolved) this way instead of
that way. ... These pieces belong in a world where a lot
of things have been taken out of it, and (all thatís
left is) nature at its most extreme."
of the pieces in the Specimens collection are silver
plated with either gold or a rubberized coating called
"gommato" (the only exceptions are the clasps
on the leather clutches, which are gold-plated brass).
Retail prices start around $400 and top out around
$18,000 for some heavily diamond-encrusted pieces.