Helen Labartkava-Verdi writes for The Odessa Journal a unique column, giving us her inside expert view on a city’s most interesting brands.
She is founder of Labartkava Image Laboratory (stylist school), co-author of many fashion projects and producer of many advertisement campaigns in Ukraine and in Italy.
Helen is passionate everything about design and style, good wine and interesting people.
For the first time I saw these unusual rings on the hands of my future husband. They looked very modern, bold, sharp, but at the same time completely harmonious in form.
“What is this brand?“, I asked.
“It is my brother who makes such unique rings, OCTAV//E“, answered my love one.
I couldn’t help knowing such a brother.
OCTAV//E: Hi, my name is Oba. I am the author of the OCTAV//E project
LV: Oba, tell us about your childhood, have you always liked doing something with your hands?
OCTAV//E: I grew up in a creative family, where my father is a composer, and my mother is a dancer, who later mastered sewing skills, it is simply impossible not to start to create something in such conditions. Working with your hands and creating something of your own has always been the most interesting. I remember, as a child, it gave me pleasure to disassemble and unscrew everything to the smallest detail, and the donated machine on the control panel did not bypass this fate. It was important to understand the structure and operation of the surrounding things. It was this that later pushed me to ideas of interacting with the shapes and textures of objects.
LV: Did the story of creativity start with rings right away?
OCTAV//E: No, the first expression of this idea was the interest in the restoration of antique furniture that my mother collects. The path to the jewelry brand began with woodwork. In a small Odessa company dealing with alternative accessories, where I was invited as a specialist in carpentry. There, in my free time from work, I began to try to make my own jewelry. The first was a massive mahogany ring, a copy of which, I later cast in silver, and to this day it is an integral part of my image.
LV: Was everything easy for you?
OCTAV//E: I was so far from the production of jewelry made of precious metals that I started by asking Google “How to make a jewelry rings?” Having bought a specialized wax in the store, I made a model of the first ring on the bedside table, using a clerical knife and Dad’s old blowtorch. And then, by a happy coincidence, my friend turned out to have acquaintances in the jeweler’s shop. Roin, the owner of the workshop, was slightly surprised by this unusual shape of the ring, but still agreed to cast a complete piece from the model. I was very excited about the result, or rather the process of transforming the idea into its final form, expressed in silver.
LV: I wonder why you chose such a stylistic direction for your brand?
OCTAV//E: I started to study jewelry processes on my own, spending a lot of time in the workshop, watching the work of the craftsmen. The original style of the products was inspired by nature, which was later reflected in the beauty of space objects through textures. To achieve this goal, I had to look for new techniques and unusual tools. I really chose a completely new, at that time, jewelry direction for our region, inspired by the Japanese avant-garde and the work of the Australian master Alicia Hannah Naomi, and it became the prototype of today’s OCTAV//E large pieces of chopped texture, wildness and fluidity of forms.
LV: What does OCTAV//E mean?
OCTAV//E: In this title I embodied all the music that surrounds me from early childhood and it’s seven full octaves. Because each of my products is a reflection of the inner world and is absolutely unique. But I don’t fill my brand with unnecessary philosophy. I prefer honesty to ideas of self-expression.
LV: Tell us some secrets of the manufacturing process.
OCTAV//E: It all starts with an idea that is modeled by hand on a special wax. This process can take from several weeks to a couple of months. The finished model (wax) is cast in metal from recycled silver, followed by a post-production process in which the product takes on its finished look.
LV: Who are your clients?
OCTAV//E: It is very gratifying that today people allow themselves to experiment with style in clothes and jewelry, go beyond the generally accepted norms. More often, my clients are progressive young people who have a subtle sense of the style and beauty of everyday life, who follow all modern trends. These people are familiar with the style of my work and turn to the desire to realize their idea through my own prism of perception. With individual orders and the possibility of a personal meeting, I always try to penetrate, feel the person, so that the product created for him is the most suitable.
Over the 4 years of the brand’s existence, the circle of customers has expanded beyond Ukraine. Mainly thanks to participation in a closed presentation of collections for buyers at Paris Fashion Week in the Cube showroom and active development in social networks. This opened the door for cooperation with some showrooms in Europe and Canada.
LV: Do you make only rings?
OCTAV//E: The range of products is not limited just with the rings. Due to the openness of clients to new things, my portfolio is filled with many unique bracelets, pendants, cufflinks, cuffs and many other types of jewelry. As one of the stages of the brand’s development, I would like to work in collaboration with fashion designers to create special silver fittings for their collections.
LV: What is the cost of your unique pieces?
OCTAV//E: I would say not much, from $100 to $200 per piece.
LV: What plans do you have for the future?
OCTAV//E: Jewelcrafting requires constant improvement of skills and learning new techniques. I try to develop myself and recently got carried away with gemology (the science of gems). This will bring new artistic forms and meanings into the design. Perhaps the next collection will be full of uncut sapphires, opals and aquamarines.
P. S: I already have some OCTAV//E rings and I want more. Buy and wear Ukrainian production! Our unique production