Flying Down To Rio With SOBRAL Jewelry
Those of you who payed close attention to our holiday gift guide round-ups might remember spotting some ultra funky Harvey bangle bracelets from SOBRAL‘s Flash Gordon collection, which features pieces made of recycled computer boards and keyboard keys. I remember being so smitten with the bracelets that I yearned to learn more about the SOBRAL line — and the man behind the exquisite designs, which feel like carnival in Brazil with their vibrant pops of color and their playful luminosity. Some of the pieces feel like ice cubes floating atop a sea of confetti, while others have the vibe of exciting street art with their mosaic-like motifs.
The line’s founder, Rio de Janeiro native Carlos Sobral, began his career in the 1960s, when he started making jewelry from metal corroded with acid. But since the material was popular among other designers of the era, Sobral found himself looking for a more unique medium through which to express his artistic vision. When he watched Argentinian artists working with resin at a craft fair in Cabo Frio, he was beyond intrigued — and, after some serious research, he finally began to experiment with the material. It soon became his medium of choice. “Resin is like a chameleon,” Sobral says. “It mimics every possible color and material.”
In 1992, Sobral started designing jewelry under his own name and selling it wholesale. Still, he didn’t really create some serious buzz until he opened his first store at Rio’s International Airport in 2000. By 2003, he’d opened his first store in Europe, located on the Isle Saint Louis in Paris. Five years later, Karl Lagerfeld approached enlisted his help to design a jewelry line, which placed Sobral at the center of the couture universe. Soon thereafter, he opened his first U.S. store in New York City’s Soho nabe — and the City That Never Sleeps certainly didn’t sleep on this promising designer.
Pictured here are some of Sobral’s exciting resin jewelry pieces. Pieces like the Clarissa earrings, which feature multi-colored horizontal stripes along the earrings’ rectangular shape, constitute part of Sobral’s famed Pop Art collection, which the designer cites as one of his all-time favorites. Sobral says, “The Pop Art collection is very vibrant and captures the light spirit of the
Cariocas — those of us who have the pleasure of living in Rio. I wasn’t surprised when Forbes magazine named Rio de Janeiro
the ‘Happiest City in the World’ in 2009, and I think the Pop Art collection captures that spirit.”
Aside from the Pop Art collection, one of my favorites is the Art Deco collection, which feature a black-as-night backdrop covered with mosaic-like slithers of vibrant colors. From the Art Deco Stick Necklace pictured at top to the Art Deco Bangle Bracelets (pictured third below), these lively pieces exude a whimsical charm while maintaining their artful sophistication. Another one of my top picks: the Anita Malfatti bracelet, pictured third from top, which features watercolor-like strokes of samba-ready color.
Carlos Sobral’s designs are heavily influenced by the work of Austrian painter and architect Friedrich Hundertwasser, Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, and Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramist Joan Miró. And, of course, everything he creates is informed by his surroundings in Brazil. “Mário de Andrade, a great Brazilian, used to say that our ancestors were anthropophagic Indians (cannibals),” he says. “The Brazilian culture “eats” everything it encounters — our artistic expressions have absorbed a little bit of every cultural heritage and spiced it up with a Brazilian twist.”
And we, of course, can feast on the Sobral line and enjoy all of its flavors.
Pictured above: Art Deco Stick Necklace, $120; Cause & Effect Nimbus Bracelet, $82; Anita Malfani Bracelet, $88; and Black Retroz Ancora Earrings, $48. All available at SobralUSA.com
Pictured below: Flash Gordon Queen Necklace Copper, $160; Pop Art Clarissa Earrings, $40; Art Deco Bangle Bracelet, $65; and Cause & Effect Convex Ring, $48. All available at SobralUSA.com