Mara Paris is a jewelry line designed by architect Ayça Özbank Taşkan.
Architectural and modern art inspirations turn into wearable pieces within the collections. Each piece is handcrafted by expert artisans. They are available in 925 Sterling Silver and Vermeil.
Mara Paris aims to bring together elegance and uniqueness through sculptural pieces. Mara Paris offers jewelry to people who love to wear and collect exceptional objects.
Interview featured in Paris By Design book by Eva Jorgensen
The artful jewelry of Mara Paris owes its success to architect-turned-designer Ayça Özbank Taşkan
Ayça Özbank Taşkan is settling down. A multifaceted and multitalented artist, she's been a student, architect, magazine writer, and in various design roles while relocating from Istanbul to Venice, Padua, Milan, Berlin and Helsinki.
But in 2015, right as she was moving from Helsinki to Paris, the excitement around her line of jewelry, Mara Paris, took off. Inspired by a wide range of sources - from David Bowie to the Walt Disney Concert Hall to the line drawings of Picasso - Ayça still maintains variety in her creative work even though she's now focused on one medium.
Where did you grow up? What were those years like, and how did they influence who you've become and the work you do today?
I was born in Istanbul to a family of artists. I had a colorful and happy childhood. I spent a lot of time surrounded by artist friends of my parents. The idea of working in a creative field gradually grew on me, and I decided to study architecture, a field in which I believe I could combine art and design.
I left Istanbul to move to Italy. I lived four years between Venice and Padua, studying architecture at Università Iuav di Venezia (IUAV), surrounded by Palladian architecture and the cultural richness of one of the most surreally beautiful cities in the world. Then I spent four years in Milan, studying at Politecnico di Milano within a slightly more modern and fast-paced environment.
Different cultures have always inspired me. The places I have lived and visited have offered me a lot with their culture, art, and design history. I'm always amazed at how our surroundings affect our approaches.
I've also had the chance to live in Helsinki and Berlin. I believe experiencing Scandinavian culture firsthand is a must for everyone who is working in design. For the past several years, I've been living in Paris. I've established Mara Paris here, and I'm quite happy to be here.
How did you become a jewelry designer?
I am a big fun of multidisciplinary approach. Before starting jewelry design, I tried to do various things: I worked as an architect, I wrote regularly about architecture in magazines, I got into photography, and worked on some design projects within other disciplines.
I started Mara Paris as a project alongside my architecture career in 2015. The core idea was to create wearable pieces inspired by architecture and modern art for people who love to wear and collect exceptional objects. A precise definition helped a lot during the initial decision making process. The rest came naturally. Over time, I focused solely on Mara Paris due to its energy and potential.
My husband is also a designer. We've been thinking about and building the brand together since the beginning. He and my mother have been biggest supporters since the first prototypes.
What is your favorite part of your work?
Jewelry is closely related to identity. I design jewelry as an expression of the creative energy from various inspirations of mine. I come from an architecture background, and architectural projects tend to be quite complicated, involving big teams with many different specialities. Seeing the end result takes years. Designing jewelry can be done with a small team at an amazingly fast pace. It is possible to prepare two collections within a small team at an, hold them in my hands, and witness them being worn. I find this very exciting and more suitable to the rhythm of life we live today.
What do you find most difficult?
The production phase is the most challenging part. Each piece of Mara Paris jewelry is handcrafted by expert artisans. They's always a new challenge with each model. Sometimes we have to produce a design using a whole new set of techniques; this complicated the initial prototyping phase. Usually, each jewelry piece goes throught three or four specialized artisans to reach the final result. As the designer, I supervise this process carefully.
What inspires your designs?
I try to design each collection with a unique state of mind, moving from one inspiration to another.
"Curves & Personas" is inspired by modern art and architecture. "Curves" is inspired by deconstructionist architects like Franck Gehry and Zaha Hadid. Jewelry pieces are shaped similar to the way they work with surfaces and curves in their designs. Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall, especially its facade, was one of the most important inspirations. Gehry designed a public building that enriches the city with the light reflecting from its curves. I tried to design ear cuffs and earrings that adorn people with light reflections in a similar manner. "Personas" is inspired by simple line drawings by Picasso and Matisse.
"Two" was inspired by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa. Scarpa worked as the president of the university where I studied in Venice, IUAV. He has left modernist traces in Venice with his designs like the Olivetti Showroom and the Brion Cemetery. This always fascinated me, and I tried to turn some of the details he used into jewelry.
How does Paris inspire you?
First and foremost, I believe it is crucial to love our surroundings and the culture we live inside. We can only achieve peace and creativity this way. Paris is the seventh city that I've lived in. Since the first day, the city has treated me well. French people know well l'art de vivre. The fabric of the city is built on top of this. Paris is not exhausting; it doesn't drain your energy like many other big cities do. I benefit from its cultural richness. Exhibitions, performances, concerts, museums are almost endless. I can always keep a very active to-do-list, which never gets boring. All of these influences keep me inspired. It's not a coincidence that Mara Paris was born here.
What should we expect from Mara Paris and you in the future?
Mara Paris will continue to evolve, full of energy and surprises. When I look back, I see that we have achieved quite a lot. It makes me excited about the future. We currently have clients from all over the world. My jewelry has reached locations that I have never visited myself. There are even some people who have tattooed my figures on their bodies. It's fascinating.