Monica Sordo, founder of SORDO, on her artistic roots that honed her creative eye for design and her distinct approach to crafting jewellery.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?

A little mindful movement routine is mandatory before coffee. I normally do some sun salutations to stretch and breathe and set my intentions for the day. We are coffee lovers at home so we have our little ritual of grinding our beans and do a slow pour, it’s so relaxing… but I also love to go for an early walk to our local coffee shop and see people walk by, specially when travelling, is a fantastic way to absorb the mood and energy of the place, it makes me feel on syntony and ready for the day ahead.

How would you describe the ethos of your eponymous accessories label?

Bold and sophisticated creations in fluid dialogue with design, artisanship and culture.

What was it that drew you to work in jewellery design in the first place?

It was a sixth sense, an intuitive and organic research of my own language through the exploration of small sculptures that with time became wearable objects – it was never planned. Growing up I saw my dad inventing, creating and solving design flaws in his workshop, this was his zen space away from work. With him over time and later in life I discovered my passion for innovation in manufacturing and solving design challenges became sort of an obsession. My mom after retiring from banking became a silversmith. She created a hub of local artists where the use of fire as their main tool was the common thread. Here my curiosity about artisanship began, followed later on by a trip to Peru that soon became a long but life-changing journey looking for the masters who would craft my jewellery designs into reality and over time my mentors into social sustainability.

Monica Sordo, founder of Sordo

Sordo is rooted in a modernist-maximalist aesthetic. What drove this decision creatively – was it a gap in the market or do you naturally gravitate towards this style?

I naturally gravitate towards this style I believe due to the strong influence of my Venezuelan background. I was born and raised in the fascinating, lush and romantically chaotic Caracas, the Latin American mecca of modernist architecture, design and art, the port of the arrival of modernism to the South Land. Also, a country geographically gifted with some of the most beautiful and diverse natural wonders. To mention one of the many landmarks that were part of our daily lives, the Aula Magna amphitheater at the Universidad Central de Venezuela designed by Carlos Raul Villanueva who commissioned Alexander Calder to create the the “clouds” that will artistically and architecturally provide the perfect acoustics for the space. I have so many wonderful memories of going to concerts and shows as a kid with my mom under these massive, colourful, floating organic shapes. What fascinates me most nowadays about projects like this is how to solve problems through beautiful and functional design. Now let’s add my time spent by the beach, where mountains and cliffs break into the Caribbean Sea, islands we used to navigate around with love ones (its shapes have been imprinted in my mind that I can draw them without looking at any references), the breeze, the salt foam and the tropical rains… All of these feelings and memories I get to encapsulate in a design and share. For me it’s such an intuitive way to tell stories and to talk about our culture and heritage.

Over the years, all these influences had fully evolved into a very unique and personal language. At SORDO, we are very proud of having achieved a strong DNA that is recognisable and that always stays true to itself no matter what the trends are.

Where does your creative process as a designer start?

It starts with a blurry idea in the back of my mind. It’s like I can almost see it and touch it, but I have to entangle it by fragments, bringing in all sorts of references from my “library”. As mentioned, before I’m fascinated by nature, but another big mojo for me when creating is movement, exploring and traveling and merging constantly with different cultures and places get me in the right mood to create and, of course, to enrich that “library” mentioned before. These references can be more literal like the island shapes, volumes and textures mentioned before, but most of the time they are more intangible and personal, the light creating shadows, natural shapes and the different colour palettes it creates at different times during the day, the breeze reshaping the ocean water at full speed, the sound of the waves breaking into the beach and overall the feeling of being in the presence of so much beauty. I will say contemplating and being is a big part of my process.

Does having a work routine help or hinder your creativity?

It hinders it, sure. As women, we are cyclical and overtime I have learned to connect more and more with myself and with my femininity. When I feel more introspective and like designing, I dig in, but it is also important to spend time doing what my body and my mind are connecting with at the moment: it can be researching, nest- ing at the studio or organising and updating my workspace. I can be feeling more social, so it’s a great time to socialise and do some PR, think about new partnerships and marketing strategies. And very important when I need to rest and take a break, I go for it!

“Collaboration and creative exchange, in shared feelings, stories, and emotions as part of the essence of living, is a strong part of our philosophy. It broadens the dialogue that brings value and depth to the creative journey across all design disciplines”

How do you approach translating those inspirations and ideas to a larger team?

Is a good follow up to the question above. For me, it is important to communicate with my team about inspiration, ideas and new jewellery designs when I’m already at an advanced stage, when I’m excited and sure that this idea will work one way or another. Then the innovation phase kicks in and each of the members of their team will apply the skills towards this new challenge. I also make sure to surround myself with talented creative minds that bring fresh points of view to the table. Specifically for our visuals we have been collaborating with the talented creative duo Malos Habitos, based in Caracas, Venezuela. It is impossible to create a universe by yourself. Collaboration and creative exchange, in shared feelings, stories, and emotions as part of the essence of living, is a strong part of our philosophy. It broadens the dialogue that brings value and depth to the creative journey across all design disciplines.

What are your potential creativity blocks and how do you overcome this?

Not recognising and accepting the days I’m not connecting with my creativity has been my biggest block. I love a good run or a spicy yoga routine to clear my head and ground myself and see where I’m standing and move on from there.

Your visuals are impactful. Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics?

The Nineties with its blend of rebellion and in- novation and fashion leading the vanguard of pop culture and art. The highly glamourised fashion shoots were gone and are replaced with intimate snapshots of day-to-day life. There was a new approach then that extended to the early 2000s when I went to Milano to study fashion styling and merchandising. This was one of the periods in which I was most influenced by pop culture – Hans Feurer, Juergen Teller, Nan Goldin, Corinne Day and publications such as I-D and The Face.

What are your tips for styling your pieces?

This is one of the things I love the most about our jewellery pieces, they are so much fun to style, versatile, and even though it sounds cliché you can really wear them day to night, they are the perfect traveling accessories. You can make a more formal or even a black-tie ensemble look younger and cooler by adding our Cubagua Earrings and even layering with some ear cuffs or wearing as a set with the Cubagua Choker. You can elevate an everyday look by adding chunks of metal. I particularly love a white crisp oversized button down and denim or a turtleneck with the chokers layered on top and framing them with a blazer. For the summer, I like playing with a sarong and use our chokers as collars, and add a cuff and a ring for a summer cocktail look. Also, our inlaid stone jewellery pieces are great to create colour blocking looks. I love wearing our mother of pearl Nautilus Earrings with a white total look – so fresh and chic – or the patchwork version in multicolour stones for a print-on-print look.

What’s on the horizon for Monica Sordo?

We recently rebranded into SORDO (before Monica Sordo) in the aim to detach from the jewellery persona and open space for new de- sign projects. We are currently exploring bigger volumes and dimensions and leaning to- wards collectible design for interiors. We are also exploring the right formula to collaborate or mentor other designers and brands that wish to produce in responsible and sustainable ways, to share our know-how after so many years of research and training in the field of hand-crafted jewellery.

This is The Creativity Issue – what do you associate with that term and how do you hone it?

The gift of aesthetic significance. That being said beyond an ability or a skill, creativity ultimately has to do with our state of being. Creativity awakens us in the power of now and brings value and meaning to every aspect of our lives.

– For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram

May’s – The Creativity Issue with Tiffany & Co. – Download Now

Images: Supplied