If you haven’t heard of Toronto-based jewelry design firm Joseph Nogucci, it’s probably because you’re one of the thousands of mega-fans of the brand that just doesn’t know the name; but you can actually spot one of their unique bracelets on the wrist of a style-savvy fashionista from across the room. We caught up with Managing Directors (and brothers) Mario Christian and Luca Daniel to find out more about the architecture-inspired jewelry line that’s taking the accessory world by storm…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
We’re a pretty adventurous and experimental group of designers, each with some interesting backgrounds ranging from engineering to biology to architecture. We’re a particularly collaborative group, likely due to our architectural upbringing in the proverbial “studio” culture, and we really try to make our office as inclusive and encouraging, for the growth of ideas, as possible. We absolutely adore traveling and exploring different cultures and cities. We also are huge fans of The Beatles.
How did you get into the jewelry business?
Mario: Our business evolved from a few sketches in a notebook. Heng and I were in the middle of our Masters of Architecture thesis at the University of Toronto, and my brother Luca was finishing his Material Engineering degree at Waterloo when we had originally decided to begin prototyping jewelry. Six months later, we launched the Joseph Nogucci portfolio site. Reception was almost immediate, and we sold out of our first run of pieces in less than a week. From that point on, we realized that this was our opportunity to combine our passions for design and material fabrication and took on the roles of building the Nogucci brand full time. We now have a global reach, receiving thousands of international orders and shipping worldwide.
What inspired the name of the your jewelry business “Joseph Nogucci”?
Mario: During my first year in architecture school in 2004, I began to develop my design sensibilities and one piece of art that really struck a chord with me was a piece called the “noguchi table,” currently retailed by Herman Miller. It was designed by a Japanese landscape architect named Isamu Noguchi. His work spanned the better part of the mid 1900s and was mainly focused on landscape work and some furniture. After having used this table as precedent for many architectural iterations during my years at the University of Toronto, it became clear that this piece was an important part of my upbringing as a young designer. During my Masters years, I began having a recurring dream of working in a sterile architect’s office with the name “Joseph Nogucci” over the entrance way. It’s more than clear that my mind had associated the name “Noguchi” with “Nogucci” and this recurrent dream became something I’d expect more often than not.
When it came time to name my own firm, the decision was almost immediate. I had been working for this anonymous architectural firm called Joseph Nogucci in my dreams for so long, it only made sense. Everyone was on board.
What inspires the various collections you offer?
A lot of what we design is rooted in some manifestation of “meaning.” It’s the result of us throwing around ideas in our office and trying out new things, but also offering up a meaningful experience to the user. We want our jewelry to carry with it memories, ambitions and dreams of the wearer, so we try our best to make pieces that can be charged by the wearer and take on their own individual meaning. Morfologi, for example, has two particular design lines that were inspired by the Grid and the Hive. The Wavemaker bracelets, part of the Morfologi Hive collection, for instance, come in a variety of enamel variations and are meant to be charged with the personality attributes of the wearer – be them caring, passion, power, etc. It’s about creating a connection with your customers and not just selling them a pretty bracelet.
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…it’s one of the most eclectic places on earth. It has such a vibrantly assorted social, artistic and design scene and truly is a world class city in all respects. It’s also an amazing and encouraging city within which to be a designer. Also, we love Toronto because of the bittersweet agony of being Leafs fans.
What are three things you simply cannot live without?
Internet, email and travel.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
We’re really lucky to live in Toronto, a city bursting at the seams with exciting new restaurants. It’s really inspiring to try a new spot and instantly be transported. Bar Isabel is a Spanish tapas bar that opened about a year ago, but I have to say it’s still one of the favourite spots among us. The fish ceviche, smoked sweet breads, and whole octopus are among just a few of the impressive eats you’ll find in this casual, dimly lit restaurant with an old world feeling.
What’s your favourite drink/cocktail and where do you go to get it?
Grand Electric has a serious selection of bourbon. Their classic bourbon sour is delicious and works perfectly with Grand E’s laidback taco menu.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with all your city-trotting?
You can follow everything we’re up to on Google+, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Check us out! We guarantee a pretty fun visual experience. Everything we’ve ever designed is on these platforms, which includes several hundred individual pieces.