Architecture & Abstraction Inspire Jewelry Line, Bande des Quatres
If you haven’t heard the name Bande des Quatres yet, it’s time you did. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across their jewelry line and was blown away with how unique and eye-catching their pieces are. I had been wandering along Montréal’s Boulevard St-Laurent when I came across Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h and made the find, and I’m so glad I did!
Bande des Quatres is a family collaboration between founder and designer, Erin Wahed, and her mother, renowned jeweler, Janis Kerman. The line was only started in 2011, but has already garnered the attention of Vogue Italia, as well as celebrity stylist Brad Goreski and his celebrity, Jessica Alba, who was recently spotted wearing a Bande des Quatres ring.
I asked Erin a few questions about the inspirations behind her line, the creation process behind these beautifully unique pieces, and what it’s like working with her mum!
E&F: If someone couldn’t see any photos of your jewelry, how would you describe your aesthetic to them?
EW: The Bande des Quatres design aesthetic is based on illusion and making the viewer question, think and wonder. With my background in photography, I was always attracted to photographing elements in the every day and abstracting them in a way that would become unidentifiable to the viewer. I took this aesthetic with me to Bande des Quatres, pushing the notion of a ring further, by testing the viewer and the wearer.
E&F: What is your process for creating each new piece? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
EW: Our process for creating each new piece is quite unique as I am based in New York and my mother, my collaborator and the goldsmith behind Bande des Quatres, is based in Montreal. Thankfully, the digital world has been incredibly helpful in making collaboration seamless when we’re not able to be in the same place at the same time.
However, when we sit down to design a collection, we always develop it together in person. Yet, as the collection develops and we undergo product development, the majority of the interaction and approvals are done through email or Skype. The first collection, we designed in Montreal, the second in Montreal and Toronto, and the third, which is currently in product development, we designed in Lennox, Massachusetts, and Civitanova, Italy.
When creating each piece, it starts by me deciding on the theme and pulling references. I come from a background in photography and art and am thus inspired by this history and aesthetic. For our first collection, the inspiration was the Bauhaus Movement, the second, architects, and the third will be a surprise. From there we sit together and start putting pen to paper. Then we play dress up, you might say, using paper models to see how the pieces could look on the wearer. From there we move onto product development where the paper models are remade using metals. Once the pieces are finalized, I then name them based on the theme and the artist that most inspired that specific piece.
E&F: What are your favourite pieces in your collection?
EW: Van der Rohe: This piece was the one that brought us to develop the brand of Bande des Quatres. It was the piece that we designed for an outfit that I would wear to my senior thesis show at New York University. From there, people kept commenting on it and convinced me we really had something, and this led us to develop Collection I.
Libeskind: This is my favorite ring from Collection II as it is the epitome of architectural jewelry. Inspired by architect Daniel Libeskind, this piece pushed us further than we had ever gone with the notion of combining engineering with jewelry making. The concept for this piece was to figure out how we can get a large 3-dimensional triangle to stay on the hand in a way that it gave the illusion it was floating. We managed to achieve this by developing a band that only went around ¾ of the finger.
Eisenman: With Collection II, we introduced bracelets into Bande des Quatres. The root of the Eisenman bracelet came from the notion of enlarging the Drewes ring in Collection I. I feel that this piece is tremendously successful in the way that the two triangles float on the wrist, again emphasizing the illusion that is ever-present in Bande des Quatres. I don’t take this one off.
E&F: I see your mom handles the production in Montreal, while you do the creative, PR and branding in NYC. What is it like working with your mom?
EW: Being exposed to jewelry as a child, watching my mother work, I knew that I would never have the patience to hand-make jewelry, but it always fascinated me.
Each design is a collaboration: conceived by myself and hand-crafted by my mother. Working with my mother has truly been a gift. I’ve never had a knack for drawing. It’s always ideas for me, so she can read my mind in the sense that I’ll point to something and she’ll know exactly what I’m thinking and how to translate it. That really works extremely well. It wouldn’t work like that with just anyone. I think you must have that family bond to be able to do that.
E&F: Do you plan to expand beyond rings and bracelets and into other types of accessories?
EW: Collection III will include earrings, which we are very excited about.
E&F: What has been the most exciting, recent development for Bande des Quatres?
EW: Bande des Quatres was recently featured in an Italian Vogue story shot by Steven Meisel and styled by Karl Templer. This was a very exciting development as when pieces are pulled for editorials, you never know if they will make it into the story. Excitingly enough they did!
Bande des Quatres pieces can be ordered online or purchased through their stockists.