Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Paola Delgado, the designer of Mujus jewelry. I was instantly intrigued at how unique each piece was and how different Mujus jewelry was from other jewelry on the market. Her creations include bright colors and abstract shapes and are made of tagua seed. Paola was born and raised in Lima, Peru and later moved to the United States to attend college. After graduating and working at Goldman Sachs, she decided to put her creativity to use and start Mujus. Since 2009, she has created affordable and environmentally friendly jewelry while giving back to communities in Peru and the United States. Check out my interview with Paola below!
Why did you choose such bright colors for the jewelry?
There are actually a couple of reasons. First, in its simplest form, colors make me happy. On a grey day when I see something really colorful such as a painting or a brightly colored flower I cannot help but to notice it and smile. This is what I want my designs to do to the people who wear them, to make them smile when they look at themselves in the mirror.
Second, I worked in finance for four years. We did a lot of presentations and used colors that were all predetermined, even the order in which we had to use them. It was stifling to my creative side and I wanted to break away from that, experimenting with all the colors that I was not “allowed” to use, go wild with them. My initial color palette had more than shades!
Finally, I do adore modern abstract art especially the Picasso’s and late Miro’s. Each of these paintings, as much as I hope my jewelry does, tells a different story to each individual. Different individuals see in the shapes of my necklaces and color patterns completely different things. I like to achieve that level of communication with my clients through the color and form of my pieces.
How did you come up with the abstract shapes on the jewelry (hearts, xo’s, etc)?
I am inspired by objects found in my surroundings as well as paintings in abstract modern art tradition.
Tagua and seeds in general are such a wonderful and gentle material that allows me as a designer to play with them and make them into any form I want. During the year, I take photos of things and paintings that are interesting to me. I know that when the time is right they are going to be the inspiration for a piece. In this way during design time, I have dozens of photos of forms that I want to have hand carved to play with. Once these are ready, I play around with them for weeks until I narrow down the ones that I want to use in a collection.
Are the jewelry pieces inspired by Peru at all?
I am inspired by Peru in everything I do in my life. In particular in my collection, each piece is a mixture of my Peruvian heritage and my experiences in the different cities that I have lived in the US, especially New York City where I have lived the longest.
For instance, the Andean culture is incredibly colorful, especially in their outfits and folklore. I grew up watching a typical dance from Puno (where my father is from) called “La Diablada” or the dance of the devil. If you look at the outfits used in this dance they are full of vibrant colors (some of them blinding to the sight), the moves are bold and they have a defining personality to them.
Some of this experience is reflected in Mujus’ Rebelde necklace: the colorfulness has been kept by using 13 different colors that are a more subdue version of the bright colors found in the outfits of the Diablada dance.
Similarly, one of our most popular necklaces is the Gema, inspired by a very common image in the Peruvian Andes, a mother lulling to sleep her baby: the two sides of the necklace are a mother’s arms around a small seed placed at the center of the bib. Most people will not see it that way but for me there is no mistake in the interpretation.
What is your favorite piece in this current collection?
It really changes all the time. For a while I was in love with the Gema necklace, I felt so pretty wearing it. Right now I like my new creations: the Qala color block necklace and the Colca necklace.
Do you have plans to make your brand even more eco-friendly in the future?
Eco friendly is a way of living, it is an attitude we take towards life. In this respect, yes I would love to use additional eco-friendly materials in all aspects of the designs such as reclaimed silver clasps and vintage materials. I love to experiment with new materials in general.
What can we look forward to next for Mujus?
A lot of things! In terms of design, as my confidence as a designer grows, I am more comfortable making bolder choices of colors and shapes and this will be reflected in future pieces. Also, my goal has always been to make Mujus a cross product and cross country brand. In Peru, we are currently working on a comprehensive male collection as well as a home décor line (another one of my passions).
After that, I want to have the time to travel around the world and find eco-friendly materials and people ready to improve their standard of living creating new designs with Mujus. A big part of Mujus are the artisans that work in it. I want to find as many wonderful materials and artisans as I have found in my home country and work with them discovering new things.
You can check out Paola’s designs on Mujus’s website at http://www.mujus.com.
Cheyenne Headrick is an Editorial Assistant at Chic Galleria. She is a recent graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in English. She likes interior design, watching comedies, and reading. You can follow her on twitter at @cnheadrick.