Saida Mouradova, founder of New York-based jewellery brand Object & Dawn, is a pioneer whose designs are centred around the notion of transformation. After feeling constrained by the mainstream and corporate mandates that stifled her creative vision while working in the fashion industry, she set out to carve her own path.
Object & Dawn merges ancient crafts with modern techniques to produce modular and customisable jewellery pieces, such as velvet-lined garter belts, complex headware systems and beaded harnesses. These are designs that will get you noticed and demand recognition for daring to approach jewellery as bodily adornment.
Saida disovered her signature craft — an ancient beading method — during a visit to the Red Sand Dunes of Mud Ne in Vietnam. The technique itself leans to an almost tribal asethetic, but merged with Mouradova’s modern and worldly vision, it becomes an interesting fusion that can only be described as metaversal. So it comes as no surprise that the designer’s latest venture explores just that: the metaverse. Read on to discover more about her creative process, her digitised collection in collaboration with digital fashion platform DressX, and her take on minting NFTs.
Object & Dawn founder Saida Mouradova
When it comes to your creations, there is an overarching emphasis on the transformative notion that they bring to the wearer. Tell us more.
“Our pieces are designed to help you bring out an empowered version of yourself; one that you might not be able to display in your usual day-to-day life. One of the things I love most is watching a client try on a piece for the first time and see themselves in the mirror. Suddenly, a sense of confidence washes over their face — their posture straightens, their shoulders pull back. Most of our pieces are modular, meaning elements can be added or removed to make the pieces bolder or more subdued — they transform with your environment. Let’s say you’re at work and feel more comfortable in a smaller piece… many of our necklaces allow this. You can then add more components as you head to dinner or a dance party.”
In terms of production, you have explored various possibilities, including 3D printing and casting. Then, you discovered an ancient beading method that delivered a unique experience to the wearer when worn. What did you love about this?
“After the early experiments with advanced technology, I found too many shortcomings. 3D printing is fascinating and eventually will be part of production, but the tech just isn’t quite ready yet. Once I found and refined our beading technique, it became clear that ancient was better than ultra modern. Processes that have been used for hundreds of years can sometimes be far better than the most cutting-edge technology. Since then, a key focus of our brand has been to find and preserve ancient techniques that are being made obsolete by mass-market manufacturing. There’s a resonance in them that you can’t achieve with the most modern of factories.”
You have a line of accessories and jewellery currently being sold on DressX — what prompted you to digitise your creations?
“With the Covid lockdowns last year, it became clear that brands had to go digital for presentations. We’ve long had an eye on the pulse of digital fashion and now you see digital worlds, AR and VR [augmented reality and virtual reality] accelerating as well. Younger Millenials, Gen-Z and beyond live digital-first lives and we know there is a place for Object & Dawn in the metaverse. We had been watching DressX for a while. Having been very familiar with the founders’ track records, we had no doubt they would execute it well and likely revolutionise digital fashion. We felt the collaboration with them was an excellent early step in our digital product journey.”
Virtual Object & Dawn Rushi headdress, $70, shop at DRESSX
For someone who is actively invested in the tangible aspects of design — from the skills and craftsmanship that go into making the objects, to imagining how they should move and be worn — did you ever feel apprehensive about what digitising your objects would mean for your designs, your creative process and your customer?
“No, quite the opposite. We were excited about giving more people the opportunity to get a glimpse of the Object & Dawn experience. I’ve heard from many fans that they love our designs, especially the most elaborate headpieces and harnesses. But they couldn’t imagine themselves wearing one. With digital, you don’t have to imagine. You can get a sense of that empowered feeling easily and from anywhere before investing in a physical piece.”
Do you see yourself continuing to implement digital designs into your collections? Have you considered producing NFTs?
“I’d love to see people wearing Object & Dawn in VR worlds such as video games. We’re exploring opportunities here. We also may collaborate with artists on NFTs [non-fungible tokens]. Like most, NFTs caught our attention during the big boom earlier this year, but we’re not going to mint an NFT just so we can say we did. It seems like a lot of brands are jumping on the bandwagon to check the NFT box and be in the conversation. What’s more exciting to us is the opportunity to combine digital and physical experiences. Wearable art IRL [in real life] and wearable art in the metaverse, while also cultivating the Object & Dawn community through digital ownership. There are endless opportunities with NFTs and we’re monitoring the space closely, but authenticity is what got us here and it will always remain our guiding principle.”
The physical Object & Dawn Rushi headdress, $700, shop at Object & Dawn
A version of this article was originally published on Adorn Insight, the editorial division of leading jewellery consultancy Adorn. The author Ann-Marie Voina can be found on Instagram at @amvoina