“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” was and remains Marie Munier’s motto in life. Being highly regarded in the Middle East and beyond the creation of contemporary jewelry, Munier revealed to Men’s Passion in an exclusive one-on-one about her artistic path, and her unique exhibitions at Dar Al Funoon for her jewelry line and at Sheikh Mubarak Fahad Al Salem Al Sabah, Salmiyah Palace for her lighting sculptures.
What can you tell us about the progress of your work since 1970?
When I decided to launch my line of jewelry, I started it among my friends and close people and I succeeded, and exhibitions of my success started. My line was based on excavation elements and pieces such as coins, Roman heads, Pharaohs’ ceramics, so the influence of the Mediterranean was present in my creations. They are spectacular and not small jewelry, I used to amalgamate those pieces and inspirations with precious stones as Ruby, Diamonds… After six years of success, we had the war in Lebanon and this success was cut down from the world, when the situation was calm I used to come to Kuwait frequently, my success was acclaimed here and I kept a close relation with my Kuwaiti clientele.
The progress became relevant when my daughter Nathalie joined me after specializing in gemology studies. We decided to work on contemporary pieces and follow what the young wanted, so affordable pieces were created. But unfortunately things after war changed and so does the woman… no one was interested in extravagant pieces anymore and in my opinion the spectacular woman vanished from the society and got replaced by the nouveau riche.
Being bored from the artistic life I needed to create something different and there came the idea to apply my jewelry drawings to lighting elements.
How did the idea to shift towards interior decoration elements become reality?
The idea came when I was searching for lighting to my apartment, so I said to myself why I don’t create my own lighting piece having several magical drawings. It was the same trial I did with my jewelry lines, it is not evident to create a piece and integrate light to it and give effects on the wall and the interiors and at the same time reflect an agreeable ambiance. I ended up with 24 pieces!
I am trying to adapt to the situation I am in, the young are more attracted to the apartments than jewelry, moreover this line is called “Jewels for Home”, in the past I used to dress the women with jewelry and now is the time to illuminate the interiors with my creations.
I started this collection two years ago, and selling was very promising at my boutique and atelier, so I decided to move, and as Kuwait is good luck charm for me and that Sheikh Mubarak invited me to exhibit my creations at his place, it encouraged me.
Out of all the materials (metal, stones, etc.) you work with, what is the most successful one for you?
The excavation pieces, the amalgamation of these pieces and the semi-precious stones helps a lot but the originality of this jewel is that basically it was made by excavation elements, whether it was mosaic of Roman stones or Phoenician, Egyptian masks, ceramic, superb antique pearls, Bronze heads, we worked with several elements.
Through these elements I had the chance to imagine beautiful creations such as brooches, rings I didn’t work small pieces they were extravagant spectacular pieces.
In my contemporary pieces I use silver, vermeil, copper whether oxidized or silvered, or stainless steel for the outdoors use creations because it’s more resistant to weather conditions. Any material I worked with had a remarkable success.
Tell us about your design style. What makes your collections unique in the industry?
My creations have a strong personality and each piece has a story to tell. People who bought my jewelries have the nostalgia of old times and they wear them years later with the same appealing way.
My Kuwaiti clients wear my pieces with pleasure and pride, and during the war here one of my clients kept her jewelries in a safe and preserved them more than her diamonds. This is where I know that my collections are unique and timeless.
Who buys your creations?
It’s not the common people… People with personality, having something to say and know what they want, I would say strong women and I am always happy to stay in contact with them because they know how to wear them and they are happy about it.
Back then it was the women of upper society in Lebanon who encouraged me and nurtured my creations. I kept it all through pictures, memories and I preserved them in my archives.
What do you have to tell us about copying your designs?
I always thank God for giving me the gift; we can be a designer, a painter but a gift is very unique, it is like having an inner idea and it became apparent. I have this lenience (without pretention) to create magnificent pieces.
They tried to copy me a lot and I was never upset… Marie Munier is well known, it is a school and it is the style; I was very proud about copying me, and when they used to that I was already on something different at an altered level. I am sure about one thing, I never lack of inspiration.
As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?
What makes me inspired is looking at the woman; her features and I immediately know what will suit her best without killing her qualities and character. I have the element in hands and the person in front of me, which helps a lot.
When I work abstractly I think that if I can wear this piece someone else will definitely do and I never worked and created a jewel just for the sake of finalizing a piece, I give each piece its time and value. I also got inspired to create a collection for men, cufflinks, belt buckles, and key chains, even pins.
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the jewelry design business?
Unfortunately designing is becoming a trend! Everyone wants to be a designer, a painter, and a jeweler but to make it as an occupation there’s a fundamental study to follow and it is specializing in Fine Arts or Design, then if they are gifted they succeed, if not they will copy others and we cannot call them creators. So with the creation one should make studies to learn the know-how of the forms, colors, and materials, yet the gift and the imagination are the appropriate rudiments for their success.
What is the favorite piece you have ever created – and what made it so special?
I don’t have one specific special piece, I have several I didn’t sell and kept for my daughter and myself and, maybe one day if she will make a retrospective exhibition on jewelry, she will be having a private collection to share with the public.