For Adi Raffeld Podhorzer, anything and everything can become jewelry. The Israeli designer uses unique printing processes and uncommon materials, like leather and plastic, to create one-of-a-kind jewelry, fashion and art. She joined the Jewelry Journey podcast to talk about her creative process, her efforts to promote her brand and her passion for art and design. Read the episode transcript below.
Sharon: Welcome to the Jewelry Journey. Today, my guest is Adi Raffeld Podhorzer, an artist, fashion designer and jewelry designer who is based in Israel and sells there as well as all over the world. Adi is particularly attracted to unusual materials in her work. She’ll tell us more about that and her jewelry journey. Adi, so glad to be talking with you.
Adi: I’m so thrilled to be here. Thank you, Sharon.
Sharon: It’s great to have you. Please tell us about your jewelry journey. Were you attracted to jewelry when you were young?
Adi: Of course, it started when I was really young. I was attracted to everything that had color and texture. As a kid, I used to pretend that I was a designer. I remember having a shop that I needed to design rings for the dresses I picked. It was something I was born with; I could tell you for sure.
Sharon: As a jeweler and an artist, you work with very interesting materials. Can you tell us about the materials and how you came to work with them? What is it that appeals to you about different kinds of material?
Adi: First of all, five years ago, I graduated from the Bezalel Academy for Art and Design in Jerusalem, Israel, and I studied in the fashion and jewelry departments. My final project was in fashion, but I felt as I was designing my clothing that I needed something that was different. I printed on unique fabrics and materials, and I was curious to see how the print would be on different materials to make them as accessories for the clothing. I also made shoes, and the materials I used in my final project are the materials I use today as a fashion designer and a jewelry designer. I feel like everything is connected, and I think the printing process that I use—it’s unique printing actually—I use it on everything, and that makes everything very new and modern and interesting. Sometimes you see something and it seems like something else. It seems heavy and when you feel it and touch it, it’s almost weightless. I like the play between what the eye sees and what you really feel.
Sharon: I want to remind everybody that we’ll have images of your work in the show notes when we post this online, so they’ll be able to see what you do as well as your Instagram and your website.
Adi: Thank you.
Sharon: You work with—is it aluminum or titanium you use?
Adi: I use a lot of materials such as aluminum, plastic, plexiglass, different kinds of leather that are usually used for living rooms and things that are more—I don’t know exactly the word for that—
Sharon: For furniture?
Adi: Yeah, for furniture, exactly. I like the feeling of the materials. I like to create something. As a child, if we go back to the first question, I was very into making my own things from the beginning. When I buy something I need to change it somehow. I need to accessorize it with something else. I can’t leave it as it is. That’s also how I approach the materials I use. I pick things that are very different and make them into something else, so no one can realize what the material underneath was.
Sharon: What attracts you first? Do you see a piece of leather and get an idea for what you want to do with it, or do you have the idea of what you want to do and then you look for the material?
Adi: I love that question because it’s exactly what I do. It starts from seeing something, having a passion to do something with it and create something. All of my items in the collections are one of a kind, so nothing will be exactly the same. That’s what makes it unique and special, and people treat my jewelry like art.
Sharon: I saw what you had in the store in Jerusalem, and you had bracelets made of—to me, it looks like plastic. I don’t know what it is, but you carved them, right?
Adi: Yes, everything is handmade. I have this studio that is very old-fashioned because it doesn’t have modern machines. I also create the shape. It’s very nice having something and every day it looks different. Also, I’m into Judaica. I do the Mezuzah for the house. I call it jewelry for the home, and it seems almost like a piece you could wear on your body.
Sharon: And very beautiful too.
Adi: Thank you, Sharon.
Sharon: Your mother’s an artist, isn’t she?
Sharon: How did that influence you career and your development? Was she encouraging you from the get-go, or was she saying, “Listen, I did that,” and you went, “Oh, I want to try something else”?
Adi: My mom is the best mom ever and she’s so into my success. She really wants me to succeed in what I do and be happy with it. Since I was young, she encouraged me to do art, and something in me wants to be grateful for what she’s done for me. She has a studio; she’s a Judaica artist, very traditional. Actually, in her studio, I have some of my stuff over there, so it’s nice having both of us showing in the same window and having different conversations on things. We have our bonding. This last March, we flew together to an art show in Chicago just before the Covid-19 started, and it was really lucky for us. It was amazing and we had a really good time together I learned a lot of the work of being a designer and artist in this crazy world, and it’s because of my mom. She really shows me the way and she’s amazing, so thank you, mom.
Sharon: That’s great. It was great to meet both of you here. When you say studio—I call it your shop—is it in Jerusalem?
Adi: It’s her studio and her gallery as well. The idea of that place is that you could see the designer or the artist work in his studio and show his stuff as well, so it’s like a workshop.
Sharon: When you went to Chicago, was that to look at other art or was it to learn how to do a different kind of technique?
Adi: No, we came there to participate in an art show. It was a jewelry and Judaica art show; very special and unique and a lot of very interesting designers and artists were there. It was actually my second time there. I came there 10 years ago with my mother before I even started studying in Bezalel, but I came with her to help her. Now I was there by myself having my own boutique place, showing my stuff and selling. So, it was really nice.
Sharon: Yeah, that was very exciting, and the timing was exactly right.
Adi: Amazing, and you know what? Leaving two babies at home with my husband was a very big deal, but I’m so glad I did it. Every night we talked, my mom and I were like, “Oh my gosh, it’s a blast that we did that, that it worked out.”
Sharon: Yes, and two weeks later, you probably wouldn’t have been able to go with all of this lockdown stuff. So, you’re a fashion designer and you’re a jeweler and you’re an artist. How does one influence the other? Where do you start? Do you do a drawing first and then say, “Hey, that would be great on a piece of clothing”?
Adi: I feel it’s my DNA, so when it’s from you, it has no rules; it’s just what I feel. It depends if I have the muse. I’m a person who needs to create something new every day. I get bored really fast, so I think I play in this playground, being an artist. I’m also into styling, so that’s fun as well. I’m also an artist and a designer in jewelry and fashion, whatever, so I feel everything together makes a bright story for me. I’m very happy and thrilled about it. It works out. I don’t know how exactly, but it does.
Sharon: For your jewelry, do you make a bracelet or a necklace and say, “O.K., that was great. I’m done with it. I don’t have to do clothing to go with it, or I don’t have to do a piece of art.” Do you stop there, or do you always continue on the road?
Adi: It depends. It really depends on what kind of collection I’m into. The way I use plexiglass for jewelry and it’s clear, it could go with any clothing and every texture. That’s why a lot of clients like wearing my stuff, because they could go with it anywhere. They don’t need to decide what clothing will go with it. I feel there’s something about the material that makes sense in the whole story, and it depends if I’m into clothing now or I’m into jewelry or all together. You know what? It depends on what day. Maybe tomorrow I’ll answer you something else.
Sharon: I know how that goes. Where do you want to go from here? What are your plans? Do you want to grow the business? Do you want to be on the runway?
Adi: Last year, I did a collaboration with El Al Airlines. I sold a unique set of earrings and a necklace on the airplane through duty-free. It was really nice and a big stage for my brand. I had a big promotion there in the catalogue, and I’m also the presenter of my brand, so people used to say, “Hey, I know you. I saw you on the El Al airplane.” But I feel like the sky’s not the limit. I have a lot of dreams and I see myself on the runway, and I see myself also having boutique stores in the world combining art and fashion. It doesn’t end. I’m sorry, but you’re asking me things I’m really connected to. That’s what makes me wake up in the morning and have fun.
Sharon: Did you pursue El Al? Did they come to you, or did you bump into somebody and they had a connection?
Adi: I took a flight, and this catalogue is really something on that airline. Every Israeli and Jewish person from the world that flies a lot, they know this catalogue. I felt it was the right thing to do at that time, and so I needed to go through with my jewelry. It took time, but when it happened it was amazing.
Sharon: Wow! That’s so exciting. What else would you like us to know about you and your work? What have I not covered that you’d like us to know?
Adi: I think I said it all. Exactly what I said at the beginning, I feel like my English sometimes is not that well. If I could talk in my language, I would say a lot more things and feel more free about it. But I think I talked about everything and you could feel that it’s a part of me. It’s not like another job. This is my life. I live fashion. I live style. I live jewelry. I live accessories. I live shoes. I also have so many things at home that I buy and collect. That’s what I do over the years, from hats, to sunglasses, to necklaces, bracelets; you could name it and that’s me. I always tell my husband that after I pass away—I hope it happens before him, many more years—but I told him, “I don’t know what you’re going to do with all my stuff, but don’t even think to throw them away.”
Sharon: Well, your English is fabulous.
Adi: Thank you, Sharon.
Sharon: I should let everybody know that you lived in California at some point for a while when you were young.
Adi: Yes, as a child, I was five years old. Till the age of 7½ we lived in LA. It’s funny because I’m going to tell you that my father worked for El Al, something in security, so maybe as a kid I knew that El Al was something in the family and I wanted to be connected to that again. My mom, she was really into her Judaica art. She had a lot of clients there, so it was good for us being there those couple of years. So my English is worse since then, but you know what? When you don’t have someone that you talk to at home in English, you don’t practice it. That’s why I’m sorry for that.
Sharon: No, your English is fabulous. I’m sure all of us would like to speak another language as well as you speak English.
Adi: Oh, thank you so much. Getting these kinds of compliments is great, so thank you, Sharon. I appreciate it.
Sharon: Thank you so much for being here, Adi, and to everybody listening, that’s it for the Jewelry Journey today. Thank you so much for listening, and don’t forget we’re going to have images of Adi’s work in the show notes so you can see it. Visit her website or Instagram and we’ll have links to that with the show notes as well. Please join us for the next episode of the Jewelry Journey Podcast, when we’ll have another jewelry industry professional sharing their experience. You can find us wherever you download your podcasts and please rate us. Thanks so much.
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