[ FIGURE ] A day with Anastassia Sel

2018.02.23
[ FIGURE ] A day with Anastassia Sel

Have you ever wanted to set foot in the creative field but kept being held back by thoughts like “I am not trained…”, “What if my creativity runs out?” or maybe “What I do now is too different from a creative job”.

What will then happen if you heard that a friend just switched from a 9-5 finance job to a complete freelance jewelry designer? Will that perhaps push you a little further? That’s how Anastassia Sel began her journey of a jewelry designer.

 

Interviewer’s note - Cynthia,  co-founder of MOVIDA 

"It has been almost 2 years now since I met Anastassia in Craft Ontario during her trunk show for her Nostalgia collection launch.

Soon enough, I was drawn to her designs in this shop filled with unique finds. I was particularly fascinated by the combination of materials and the amorphous and sculptural shapes designed for different parts of a human body.

Yet, I didn’t get to know the artistic side of her more profoundly until I visited her studio this time."

 

 

"The first thing that caught my attention was the mounting paintings in the corner. The layered paintings were yelling 'ask her about us!'.

Anastassia has been painting and healing through painting ever since she was a kid. To be very frank, I wasn’t sure if it would be rude to ask why didn’t she sell them to galleries because each of them is a masterpiece. Her answer was simple and sweet, 'To my mom, they are me at every stage of my life. She wants to keep them.' "

 

Anastassia was raised in Southern Russia where the summers are hot and winters are wild.

They had a piece of land that provided food for the family for the year. In 2015, she founded her namesake jewelry brand, Anastassia Sel.

Her bespoke designs are 100% designed and handmade in Toronto with precious and semi-precious materials.

 

 

In only 2 years, Anastassia Sel’s designs have been featured in Canadian publications such as Elle, Flare, and Glow magazine and walked the New York, Milan and Toronto runways.

All of this can sound a little intense for as short as 2 years but they can all be attributed to the “coolness” of the wearable art she creates.

 

One of Anastassia Sel's Elle Canada features 

 

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Today, we are spending a day visiting her studio and sitting down with her to find answers to some questions we’ve been curious about for so long.

 

What are the things you would do on a perfect Saturday in Toronto?

Ohh~I would say exploring Cabbagetown in Toronto. It’s very rustic and you never know what to expect from it. It’s very artsy also and has a lot of hip corners. Though it’s still a little unexplored, it’s about to be the next Queen West.

 

How about your favourite cafe and boutique in town?

My favourite cafe is The Walton, because you are simply going back in time. Every single table has a different flower and I have a flower obsession so going back in time and flowers are the best combination for my favourite cafe. For boutique, I will really have to say Made You Look Boutique because you are just going into a huge repository of talents.

 

What’s your favourite thing about home?

Well, my family has always been my number one, always. As cliche as it sounds, but no matter who came along friends or boyfriends, I’ve always put my family first. It’s actually a tough one because I lost my father. Before I lost him, we’ve always been a tight family but you know...things change when you lose somebody close to you. I remember when I wasn’t happy about my job at the time and I would always come to their house and they would offer us food, wine, coffee and everything. It’s like a sacred place that you go to where you are safe. Even right now, though there are a lot of things you need to adjust. Before it’s like a sanction but now it’s like a sanction but with more responsibilities. It used to be a playground but now I am doing the things my dad used to do.

If it’s all up to me, I would open up a little boutique dedicated to eccentric and curate unique designs for the “alternative” women, not for the commercial.

 

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

Well, based on my previous experience, not in finance for sure! I will try to be a painter and maybe a curator. If it’s all up to me, I would open up a little boutique dedicated to eccentric and curate unique designs for the “alternative” women, not for the commercial. Right now, I have this obsession with vintage and contemporary designs and I think partnering vintage and contemporary would be something really cool. If you go to my condo, you will find a mix of both. You will see vintage tea cups everywhere and withered furniture I painted, and you will also see very sleek and modern TV stand.

 

I know that you have attended many art-related classes like pottery, painting and jewelry classes. Which one is your favourite and why?

Jewelry-making was my least favourite because there are so many details to it and I had to go through so many steps to make one piece. I took one year of jewelry courses in George Brown and I was like “Woah, this is way too technical for me”. I enjoy designing jewelry tremendously but not necessarily making it. Painting was something I have been doing since I was a baby, but not until when I was 14 I started actually enjoying it. Since that time, I look forward to going to the class, put on my headphones and paint. It could be a healing process and a reenergizing process for me. I met my first boyfriend in that class and I was like “Woah! Cute guys go to art classes!” So I definitely love going to art classes even more! So definitely...Painting is my favourite

 

 

I love being there on a quiet day so I could take it all in, the architecture and the interiors.

 

 

The good and the bad about being a designer or specifically a jewelry designer in Toronto?

Toronto has a lot of pockets that you can get inspirations from. Unlike New York, where they are just presented to you at every given corner, you will have to seek them out. Neighborhoods like Cabbagetown, Dundas and College St and Queen St are full of new discoveries. There’s a very under-promoted and undiscovered Middle Eastern Museum in Toronto called Aga Khan Museum. I went there on a sunny Sunday and there were about 5 people there. It feels almost empty because of the clean lines and designs. Even the greenery was arranged in a straight line and there’s nothing that was off-putting that distracts your attention. I love being there on a quiet day so I could take it all in, the architecture and the interiors.

 

 

The number one “bad” I talk about is the conservative and the minimalist nature of Torontonians.

I, myself, am a minimalist but I tend to design for the eccentrics. I would never, for example, wear rings and ring and rings, but I love to design for women who are over the top, who go crazy with their jewelry.

Also, conservative natures means conservative budget. However, in a world like this, you are not only limited to the buyers in Toronto, you are open to buyers around the world. Something very unique about Toronto is also its people’s minimalistic lifestyle.

 

 

So the idea is to bridge the distance and to work with the 12-hour time difference between us. It’s going to be jewelry collection and I am curious to see what comes out of it.  

 

Do you have a project or maybe a life project that you have in mind and are planning?

My branding specialist, Luana, and I have been planning on a collaboration for the longest time and we are both very excited about it.

As we are two people with very different styles, she’s more clean and contemporary and I am more inspired-by-nature, it could be extremely interesting when these two are combined.

We first met in Toronto, but shortly after that, she moved to New York then Singapore. Despite that we talk to each other frequently, we can’t deny the fact that we are separated by a significant distance.

So the idea is to bridge the distance and to work with the 12-hour time difference between us. It’s going to be jewelry collection and I am curious to see what comes out of it.  

I am always restless if I’m not doing something creative. I get this anxiety right after I get married that I have to design something new while no one told me to do so.

 

 

(Note: Why am I not surprised? I know that creative people are always thinking ahead. They might not know how exactly will the project will turn out but it’s always worth a try. Ability is never a limit, but your imagination is.)

I was telling my husband this morning that I need to be in Algonquin. Not that I am exhausted or anything, I just need to be there.

 

 

Tell us one thing that makes you instantly happy.

It has to be nature. I was telling my husband this morning that I need to be in Algonquin. Not that I am exhausted or anything, I just need to be there. Also, good cafes and good coffee make me very very happy.

 

 

What are the key components of a good style to you?

I am not sure if I have the right interpretation but I have a thing for oversized things and beautiful and simple jewelry. It could be colourful but you are pairing it with something very simple. I would describe the way I dress as “simple elegance”.

I love primary colours with over-exaggerated with some re-invented traditional pieces with primitive colours

 

 

So in that sense, I think New York is my favourite artist.

 

 

Do you have a favourite artist? In any field.

Uhm...Is it sad that I don’t have one? I just get inspired by people that are proactive, that are doers and for me, artists are doers, instead of just a thinker.

So in that sense, I think New York is my favourite artist.

 

 

 

Though all Anastassia Sel's pieces are designed with a lot of thoughts and time and handcrafted with select sustainable raw materials, their prices are surprisingly friendly.

We have handpicked some of our favourites and also bestsellers for you in case you need some suggestions choosing from so many stunning designs. We hear ya!

 

 

Union Necklace 

 

 

Immortality Earrings 

 

Silence Ear Climbers

 

 

Quartz Ear Jackets

 

See more Anastassia Sel designs here.

 

 

We are always on the hunt for talented local artists and creatives to share their stories. If you have a suggestion, please comment below or simply shoot us a message!

 

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