Nora Renaud / ADAL

Interview for Nasty Magazine.


A mind appearing to always wander, now rising above its momentary existence, it gets ready to stand alone on firm ground and form her own perception of the outward entities. There is more within her than she is actually aware yet, it’s the words that betray her, shading some light over that mysterious realm. ADAL is the interval where the things taking place in her imagination are enclosed and shaped in tensioned objects with a life of their own. As the Ma, it is a composite space between the perfect and the imperfect, a selective passage that unveils to the outward assorted degrees and aspects of herself.

How does the fashion industry look through Nora Renaud’s eyes?

There are so many ways in which we can create and communicate but people tend to rush and respond to immediate requirements – and I have nothing against immediacy – but I think one needs more time for adaption. As for where I am standing, I feel a bit distant and very patient, I am now aware that I need my own special way to be distributed and I am working on it at the moment.

Born in Geneva, now based in Paris. How did this transition happened and how did that determined your path?

It was a natural transition, the great density of Paris always felt closer to my real nature than that of Geneva, which is quite contrary. I do not believe in small, quiet cities, I would rather choose a pretty big, chaotic village. Paris is a place that leads you… I did not come here only for fashion and culture but for that feeling of constant vibration and I wanted to see what could happen if I would measure myself among these elements. I tried to escape at one point (New York-London) but it always felt like home, like a source of my inspirations. I do not travel so much, so Paris determines a sense of freedom for me, a utopia somehow… an engine that feeds my vision.

Which are the things that have influenced your design approach so far and gave you this particular aesthetic direction?

This is either too early to say or is almost impossible to know, the aesthetics direction is given by the fact of not thinking about aesthetics – which is a kind of aesthetic in itself. I try to let it go as purely as I can and then I have to accept the result as it is. I like this constraint a lot, that your creation and the medium is somehow decided for you and not the opposite.

In an interview to NJAL you said you like making things with your own hands. “My hands always looked old, even when I was a child. They are my only reliable tools.” Out of all possible options why did you choose jewelry when you chose to follow an independent path?

That happened almost randomly, out of personal expression I sculpted some undefined objects that I was wearing as talismans. Just that more and more people encouraged me to develop something further, so I started with launching metal pieces as a trial. Today I finally feel confident to say that I am ready to make proper jewelry as a freelancer, for other designers or brands. Yet those three years before were a great way to learn, by experimenting.

Jewelry in my case is a way to interact in fashion, but with a sort of distance, always.  I still want to stick to my real nature of an “almost” free beholder, a creative hand-crafter.

How would you describe the meaning of jewelry / accessories in the consciousness of people these days? And in which way they shift from ornamental, mere decorations, to elements that define the essence of the wearer?

I am as well wondering about their statement and meaning. For accessories there might be the clear explanation of functionality, as for jewelry, the decision falls more within the field of emotions rather than on the actual psychology created by the object, the need to own and keep. By wearing it, you are experimenting something with your body, with your appearance, emphasizing its expressions.  My pieces are mostly seen as wearable objects, but they are also “functional” at a different level, when lying on a table, hanging on a wall, or when hidden between books or under a pillow. This is how it all started in the first place: small scale, in-house intimate sculptures parasitizing a space.

Do you sketch everything before or it’s a matter of ‘leaving it to chance‘ in the process of creation? Could you please speak about your methodology, about your research, materials, techniques you are using.

I sketch a lot but not for my pieces specifically, rather it’s free sketching that helps me express my feelings and that indirectly appears in ADAL creations. The process I use so far for the jewelry is very uninhibited; I just form freely without knowing if the result will be a belt or a bracelet. Then I cast some elements and once they are in metal I compose a sort of assemblage. I play with tools instinctively, I discuss with the few handcraft people I know and afterwards I decide what these compositions will become. If I make a collaboration with a designer the chosen process can be different: I work with a particular reference or “envie” transcribed into sketches that are further developed in an atelier (cf: ADAL for Nicolas Andreas Taralis).

Seen as techne, is your work intended to produce a transformative effect, to mold and leave its wearer different? Why would one choose to wear ADAL?

The transformative effect is not at all intended, except of the weight that is very present and important for me, but I do not see it as an effect but as a fact, as I have been noticing a sort of a “What is it?” type of reaction, so far. I think it is not a choice: you either leave it, or you take it if you are ready to have a piece in spite of the fact of not knowing exactly what you are going to do with it (the easy rings and bracelets developed in the last collection are an exception).

There is a certain poetic of sensuality in your work, are there any stories you are trying to tell through your designs?

It is not about trying, it is by doing that you realize or analyze what you are saying. It is just real, in the end we are bodies and the body is the first one to disclose things. There are so many bodies around and so many things are being said… and I love listening. Though I am not sure about the poetic side because I just do not believe in poetry, or maybe it is a kind of poetry that I am not aware of. And sensuality is present because it is the body that is speaking; a language and gestures concentrated in a static object.

 Are we wearing your jewels or are your jewels wearing us?

There is a real confrontation between my jewelry and the wearer; there is a tension between them because my creations are saying things, and most of the times not in the softest way. Once in a while I get a feeling of submission or slavery (but nothing intended and nothing SM oriented) when wearing some of the pieces but some others, on the contrary, give me a sort of strength.

The masculine compared to the feminine in your life & work.

The substantial mystery is that we are defined by our constitution as male or female and we respond with what we have been taught about it – what it is to be a woman or a man. A difficult and exciting point. It is maybe a topic that I am generally articulating in my work as I can only speak about it through objects and not with my thinking or through words.

 Are there any contemporary artists you are looking at with appreciation?

With art I stay quite passive until I randomly hear about something that really convinces me. I am sensitive to Oscar Tuazon’s work and thinking, at the way he defines or questions art/architecture/space design/object problematics – and the physical and  emotional aspects of it. Everything comes from the body – said Kapoor …I consider my sculpted objects having a real connection with the body expression both in the process and in the final looking result. As for the feeling, it makes sense, it is always about a physical act at the end.

Based on Damien Hirst’s definition of life you chose the name ADAL: ARRIVE DISTURB ARRANGE LEAVE – by adding the third phase “ARRANGE”. Can you tell us more about the other activities that are part of your “way to create” besides jewelry design? [“ARRIVE is birth, Disturb is our first scream, our first foot on the grass, ARRANGE is because we always find a way to create something constructive out of it, and LEAVE is death, we have no choice, we have to leave sooner or later.”]

I cannot be considered a jeweler, it is just a part of ADAL. You have to start with something, else you end up keeping your creative world only for yourself and it is too easy and too difficult in the same time to live in your “hutte”, you need to challenge your creations in reality, at least to give it a try. As for the other activities, I presented a triptych drawing at SOME/THINGS gallery and I illustrated their CHAPTER006 box. I have also started a series of thread drawings that I showed at Dover Street Market, I am working on some textile pieces and sculptures on a bigger scale etc…but I have no rush at all.

 If you could dream ( / live – added by Nora) any dream what would that one be?

Let’s say that there are two scenarios:1: what we call reality 2: what we call dreams

What happens in my dreams I keep them in reality 2

What happens in my reality is simply what happens in reality 1

Is there something you would define as concrete in your life?

Everything that I consider physical and the moment I get paid for a job.