I met Susi Prinz thanks to a mutual friend – Cristina Bintintan, the owner of the Golden Carrot in Zurich. The minute I walked into Susi’s Atelier at Mittelstrasse 18 in Seefeld, I knew we will hit it off. Susi is one of those women who walks without an armour, her amazingness hides in her lack of fear from being or looking vulnerable. Susi is looks like an uninhibited child who laughs and cries with an equal abandon. She talks and moves with an outrageous ease. You might take her easy-going manner for naivety or frivolousness, but make no mistake. Susi is not just compassionate and thoughtful. You can recognize her deep intellect and adeptness, her leniency and generosity of spirit, heart and mind only when you get to her work. Her jewelry of course represents everything Susi is. These are accessories that require gumption and sass to be worn. And if you have it, flaunt it.
Susi was born in Madrid and raised of German parents. Beside a jewelry artist Susi likes to call herself a rebellious designer, a noble-punk and an ambassador for the actual Zeitgeist. Her one-of-a-kind pieces are for women who are not afraid to be in the spotlight. In her work Susi likes to celebrate and recycle a mix of styles, using materials and elements like porcelain, wood, bakelite, bones or glass. Her unconventional Haute Couture style is a refined mixture of the Japanese concept Wabi Sabi, meaning beauty in its imperfection, retro-elements of the Steam Punk, and aspects of the shabby- chic look.
Here is what Susi has to say more about her line of punchy accessories:
Tsitaliya: Hi Susi, I love your pieces and their short stories, did you always know this is what you will be doing one day? Susi: Almost 10 years ago, I went to get my hair done at Javier Q’s salon in Madrid. He had always admired my jewelry style and he asked me if I could source some really cool, unique pieces for him to sell in his Salon. I started searching around at different jewelry fairs and markets, but wasn’t really captivated by anything I saw. I wasn’t able to find the fresh and slightly crazy designs he was looking for. My beloved Canadian friend, Sandy D, pushed me to create my own pieces. “Stop complaining about this and that…do it yourself,” she said. I was uncertain at first, and a little afraid. In the end, I just went for it, like jumping into the unknown. I remember the first necklace I sold to a friend at a dinner party…she was delighted and I was amazed…amazed that someone would really want to buy a piece of jewelry that I had designed and created! This was the beginning. I had never thought of myself in that way before. I never thought before that I could do what I do now. I discovered a hidden passion. I somehow discovered myself. It might sound kitsch but it’s true.
Tsitaliya: The kind of woman who would dare to wear your pieces? Susi: I want to provoke, for sure. Most of my pieces can’t fade or even fit in an outfit. They are definitely statement pieces. With that said I want to encourage women to experiment for themselves and play with their own style. I think women should, very consciously, enjoy themselves. There is an aspect, of course, to pleasing others, but also at the same time declaring that you are different, not mainstream. My pieces are for women with sense of humor. Fun and humour are central components of my designs. The kind of woman who would wear them has to be able to enjoy the experience of being tapped on the shoulder while standing on line at the boarding gate at the airport and being asked, “Excuse me, Madame, where the hell did you get this necklace?”
Tsitaliya: Do you feel women in Switzerland understand your pieces? Susi: From my experience I feel that women in Switzerland are quite conservative. They don’t dare to experiment with their outfit nor with themselves as much as women would do in New York, London or Paris. I often feel that in Switzerland the desire for attention is considered a sign of weakness instead of personifying strength and self-confidence. Understatement has preference. Does that anything to do with the overall tendency to neutralism? Maybe, I don’t know.
Indeed, I often don’t feel understood. But on the other hand I feel calm and free to develop my ideas in this neutral surrounding. It’s a rebellion against boredom, mainstream and conformity. I try not to care so much about what people think or say. I try to listen to my intuition.
From the creative point of view I really feel mostly understood and accepted in cities like New York or London. Here I breathe an outright public consent for individuality. Do you look different? Great! People will overwhelm you with compliments because they love eccentric looks.
Tsitaliya: Are you sentimental? Do you keep some of your works that have a special meaning to you? Susi: Indeed, I am sentimental and I am a notorious romantic. But I don’t try to keep pieces even if they carry some meaning to me. My necklaces are like my babies growing into kids and then adults. After they are born I want them to start walking and become independent. When they are sold and walk away, I have the need to make new ones. Still I feel attracted to some pieces more than to others.
Tsitaliya: Where do you look for inspiration? It seems you read a lot and you know a lot about legends, myths and stories?I love the names you choose for your jewellery. For example “Destroy the order”, “I went bananas”, “Torschusspanik” and “Seven Souls”. Susi: Everything inspires me, often in the most unexpected way. Sometimes I see a piece on display at an old jewelry market and it just triggers something….a story, a memory, some old experience. It could be a song…music is so evocative, like Ane Brune & Fleshquartet “The Opening”…so beautiful. I love the lyrics of Jorge Drexler, Jason Mraz (I know…I am a bit old-fashioned…) or Julien Clerc (funny…they all start with a “j”). It might be a cool movie that is still in my mind… for example the Argentine film “Un Cuento Chino” by Sebastian Borensztein or the Norwegian short film “Tube Atlantic”. I loved it. I take things with me from all the experiences in my life and you can see little traces of it in my jewelry.
Another strong inspiration is rituals, everyday rituals and rituals of faith. For example, I have found some beautiful old religious pieces with interesting history. Often, the very devout would rub the pendant over and over, so that after many years the saint would have a completely flat nose! When I write the stories for my necklaces, I love to research words too….did you ever hear of the word “buccaneer”? It means pirate, sailor…or adventurer.
Tsitaliya: Is there a story you want to translate into a piece of jewelry, but so far you haven’t been able to do it? Susi: There is a movie called: 21gr. from the director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. It is to be said that we all lose 21gr. at the moment of our death, when our soul leaves the body. I want to find a tiny little spoon that measures exact this weight. It would become a wonderful necklace. But I haven’t found it yet. Or in other words: the right spoon hasn’t yet found me.
Tsitaliya: How would you describe your work? Susi: Unconventional and eyecatching, provocative and fun.
Tsitaliya: The most important lesson you’ve learned during your travels? Susi: Don’t be afraid. I’m still learning the lesson.
Tsitaliya: Do you find it difficult to balance work, life and staying creative and vibrant? Susi: Of course I find it difficult. I often feel like having several balls juggling all together in the air trying to avoid any of these falling down: kids, family, friends, homework, health, creative work, business, etc. I created a jewlery piece called “Die Trapezisten”. It describes this situation similar to being in a circus.
Tsitaliya: What keeps you going all this time? Susi: The need to feel alive and creative. I am a lucky person because I was born on the sunny side of life. I am thankful everyday for what I have. I feel humble. And I want to keep on learning whatsoever.
Tsitaliya: What comes next from Susi Prinz? Susi: I am developing, for the first time a limited series of jewelry pieces that are still very personal and unique. Now that I have developed the prototype, I am becoming less the artist and more of an entrepreneur. Uff! Not an easy task, but good for my own personal growth. Another project I am working on right now is a collaboration with a handbag brand. This is an exciting way for me to further develop my unique style and creativity.