a talk with gittit szwarc from knobbly studio

we caught up with gittit szwarc, the founder and designer behind israel-based jewellery brand knobbly studio to learn more about martial arts, elon musk and the end of humankind.

could you talk us through a ‘typical’ day in your life?

I'm not a fan of routine, so this is always changing, but I can describe what it's been like lately. 

I try to get a quiet hour of work done from home in the morning, to get into the big picture and prioritize. then I get on my bicycle – it's about a 45 minute ride from my house to the studio, I essentially cross the entire city of tel aviv. I used to drive, but I found I arrive much more clear-headed and positive when I cycle.

we're going through a dizzying growth phase right now, so when I arrive I need to just be available to my team for a few hours, to answer any questions and help them get used to new workflows. in between I might be just outside the studio snapping pictures for instagram in some strong midday shadows, or I'll walk to the beach to do the same if there's time.

in the afternoons I might be working with my studio partner on our next project – we recently renovated our space together and made part of it into a gallery for rotating exhibitions, so we could be meeting with the artists, working on our social media/press for the upcoming exhibition, or one of our endless schemes for small changes in the studio because renovating is something that never really ends!

I like to work late after everyone's gone, so that's usually when I sketch new pieces or flesh out ideas for new imagery I'd like to create.

your background is really interesting and pretty diverse, with experience in all sorts of things from martial arts to maths. why did you decide to become a designer, and why did you decide on knobbly studio?

I can't really say I decided to do it – it was something I started doing out of restlessness when I was studying at university and teaching capoeira; the response was good and it grew until it gradually elbowed out anything else I had going on in my life! I think all the disciplines I've been involved in really inform my design process though. I'm really into the human form in movement and I'm interested in the way our eye perceives things differently under different conditions of angle, light or context, and those are themes that are always there in my designs. I came up with the name knobbly it was descriptive of one of the first things I made, and I've wanted to change the name ever since, but haven't found the right one yet!

how do you feel being based in israel inspires your designs and brand ethos?

when israelis travel to other places in the western world we're often perceived as rude, but often what's actually going on is that we really value "getting to the point". we want things to be functional and to cut the frills. I definitely think that comes through in my designs. I try to strip away any design elements that aren't needed to define that piece. at the same time, because I know my location can be perceived as off-putting, I try to create a sense of intimacy in my visuals. I don't try to show the city but rather the feeling of being in it.

you recently collaborated with french photographer and tattooist, laurie franck - how did that collaboration come around? what made you want to work with laurie?

I saw laurie's work on instagram and sent her a message saying I loved it and asked if she would be into doing something together. she said yes and we had such a good connection right from the start. she's since been to tel aviv twice to visit and so we can create together! I loved the way she used the minimum necessary to convey an image of a human body. some of her drawings could almost be just a random line and two dots, but because our eye is so attuned to finding humanity in everything, we can't miss it. it ties back to the interest in perception that I talked about - we're constantly primed for finding human forms, so we do.

if you could collaborate with anyone - living or dead - who would it be?

elon musk. I don't know what I might have to offer to help his vision but he's decided how he's going to change the world and I'm into it. an israeli singer once said in a live show, "throw your heart ahead of you and then run to catch it". that's what he does.

what exciting projects do you have lined up for knobbly studio for the rest of this year?

right now I'm pretty excited about our work in the gallery we built, mars (@marsonvenus). the opening show with laurie franck was a huge success and drew a lot of people who are just our kind of people, so we're excited to grow that community. at some point I'd like to collaborate with multiple artists and data scientists to curate an exhibition about a subject I've been pondering for a couple years, which is the correlation between human forms rising in fashion (all the nude shapes, hand prints, face earrings) and our apocalyptic feelings about the end of humankind.

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by nav gill