About Vassili Tselebidis

In between his studies in space and visual arts at the art school Saint-Luc in Brussels, Ambroise Vassili started to develop his artistic world. In 2015, he was selected by Pascaline Smets to be featured at the Smets Young Talents. During this event that promotes young designers, he presented his first graphic designs. And he decided to materialize three of them through fine jewelry, an art that he particularly admires. His work attracted the attention of the plastic arts department of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and thanks to the prototyping aid that has been granted to him, he was able to produce the prototypes of his first collection in the course of 2018.

Interview with Vassili Tselebidis

Vassili Tselebidis ("VT") interviewed on Wednesday, 13 May.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

VT : In between my studies in space and visual arts in Brussels, I started to develop my artistic world. I fully committed to it when I was selected by Pascaline Smets to be featured at the Smets Young Talents 2015. During this event that promotes young designers, I presented my first graphic designs and I decided to materialize three of them through fine jewelry. My work then attracted the attention of the plastic arts department of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and thanks to the prototyping aid that has been granted to me, I was able to produce the prototypes of my first collection in the course of 2018. In the meantime, I continue to work as a freelance graphic designer on visual identities or artistic directions, among other things, for various projects in the food industry or sales for example.

How did you become a designer?

VT : I’ve always wanted to do something in the creative field. As long as I remember, I’ve always been a creative soul. I’ve been raised by women and surrounded by them since I was a child. This family setting naturally contributed to the person I became. It goes to say that my education and my family history have allowed me to develop my sensitivity, open-mindedness, and my inspiration. Unfortunately, like many children around the world, we are pressured by our creators to respect what they have envisioned for us. I began to consider my desires when I decided to live my true self and stop hiding behind cultural or religious beliefs. My desire for creativity was more precisely born of admiration for my mother. She was an independent, enterprising, elegant, and sophisticated woman but life got her on many levels. During her early years, she was active in the jewelry industry. I took great pleasure in contemplating her beautiful silhouettes and jewels that only kept my imagination going.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

VT : I don't have a particular style, I have a sense of taste in general. Whether it is good or bad, it is eclectic above all. As a multidisciplinary artist, it is important to have a sense of control over my work, to articulate my creativity around a focal point, this is why I have always wanted to create an intriguing and timeless emblem that animates me. It will always be part of my designs and decline it, is the game I play throughout my creative process. It is a permanent turning point to me and it is the most important instrument that allows me to keep a guideline and a common thread through the eclecticism of my ideas. It is a sign of symbolic value for me whose originality lies in its spiritual nature. This triptych is the source and unity in my creative process.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

VT : I feel all kinds of emotions. It goes from frustration to satisfaction and all of the above. I feel the most comfortable to design when the night comes because it slows down time. I feel alone and in charge. I let my imagination envision and worry about nothing else but being creative. There’s always room for improvements and adjustments in a second phase. Designing fulfill my needs of creativity. It makes me rethink everything that surrounds me, anywhere, and anytime. I get myself stuck in a mind game that can be challenging sometimes, of course, but that brings me so much fulfillment at the end of the journey because I feel on top of the world and like everything is possible. It always seems impossible until it’s done. I believe Nelson Mandela said that.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

VT : As a first step, to make my first collection available on the market. The short-term goal is to launch new designs that will be compatible with the current pieces. The number of combinations and the freedom of creation will, therefore, be increased. The second goal will be to complete the first collection with necklaces, bangles, and earrings while remaining the spirit of the original concept. The most successful designs will continue to be declined to offer some new combinations to the customers. Mainly thanks to new gold alloys: such as blue, black, green, or purple gold. Some new cut or cabochon gems, such as sapphire, ruby, emerald, opal, lapis-lazuli or malachite will be added as well. In terms of creative direction, it will be essential to diversify myself by continuing to develop the concept of interlocking but also, by presenting new collections independent from it but always based on the emblem. In the long run, I also have the ambition to diversify my brand's product portfolio, from clothes to leather goods to footwear. I believe greek philosopher, Heraclitus, quoted that big results require big ambitions.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

VT : How can you not keep up with trends anyway, we are submerged by visuals and non-stop information. I don't mind following trends and if I choose to, I'll play the game by my rules anyhow. It really depends on what you're seeking. If you are looking for immediate success and easy money, you just need to follow the trends and you know that your product will sell by itself. But my goal as a creative soul is to think out of the box, to be different and original, and potentially, success will come along and be part of my legacy. Inspiration may come from anything. An emotion, an encounter, or even some dust on a shiny cosmetic jar that inspires you a pattern for example. As a designer, you pay attention to everything and especially to tiny little details that most people won't see. Everything around us can be potentially inspiring thus possibilities are endless.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

VT : I focus on the originality and details of the overall design. I do ask myself “Is this déjà-vu?” Then I pay attention to the quality of materials and production. Good design for me is well-thought and manufactured and will last over time. Of course, it costs a dime but it’s an investment. I have always preferred to own less but better.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

VT : Whenever it is as perfect as it can be but I do not think it is possible to cover everything in one product. Design is made of concessions. There is always a time when as a designer, you will prioritize beauty over practicality or vice versa for example. But I will never concede on quality. If I had to choose for whatever reason, I would prefer to simplify my design than to choose poor materials to keep my design unaltered. I am my biggest critic and first customer. In my opinion, details have a very important place and nothing should be left to chance. I wear any prototype of any product I design so I do revise everything. As for success, I think there’s no clue for it. The real success for me is to last in time and to achieve this goal, risks have to be taken and consequently, success comes and goes.

What is your biggest design work?

VT : My current collection, Interlock. I designed and conceptualize this project to arouse, among customers, the desire to create and give them the occasion to express their creativity. Every design has been imagined in several parts that can be worn independently or combined in many possible ways. I want to share, through my label and designs, an approach that makes sense. I aspire to shake up certain rules by proposing creations that are at once playful, opulent as well as refined and will provide some freedom to the women and men who will wear them. As individuals, we are somehow unsettled because we are made of feelings. The way we present ourselves, and accordingly the story we want to tell, changes at a given point in time. It is the perception I try to express through this concept of interlocking: everyone can reappropriate their piece of jewelry by deciding according to their desire, to assemble it or not. Thanks to this concept of interlocking, everyone is given the opportunity to conceive a piece of jewelry according to their taste and with the balance they desire by choosing from a range of gold alloys and gemstones. I wanted to provide a plurality of styles through this concept of interlocking and thus the final look that changes consequently if several pieces are combined or not. It goes from opulent and eye-catchy, if the client combines some rings of different gold alloys and all set with brilliant-cut diamonds and semi-precious stones, to more minimalistic by wearing just a ring or two in solid gold. Over time, the piece of jewelry owned by a customer may evolve alongside him or her thanks to this concept of interlocking. Clients can decide to acquire new rings that are compatible with the pieces they already possess. And even if the consumer decides not to, he or she knows that this is always an option to add a new acquisition to the one they already have and make something new out of it. All the designs will be sold separately and accordingly available to a wide range of prices depending on the chosen design. It is thus somehow budget-friendly. Of course, a piece of fine jewelry is not cheap but it is an investment in the long term. So for those who do not have deep pockets but want to have access to nice things, this can be possible. So be aware that if you are attracted to a combination with several rings, you can get it at your own pace.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

VT : Design is my lifestyle. I style my life in its every aspect and I envision every single detail of it. Design is part of my daily routine on many levels. Music has also an important place in my daily life. All kinds of music. Whether to celebrate a goal I've achieved, to find inspiration, or to comfort myself in a moment of sadness. I was born and raised in Brussels and this is where I live but I don’t feel like the cultural heritage of Belgium hasn’t affected or inspired my designs. My Greek heritage as affected me and still does much more because there’s nostalgia linked to it. Greece is in my heart. Even if I wasn't born there, it's the country of my origins. I will always cherish the Greek lifestyle. Among the great civilizations that have marked history, ancient Greece remains one the most remarkable and thus most inspiring. In art, politics, literature, philosophy, or science, its legacy still influences our world. Greek civilization invented almost everything.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

VT : As an emerging designer myself, I can’t do much right now to help others in the design field. Of course, I have some ideas on how to give back but these projects will only be possible when I will have something beneficial for others to bring on the table. What I can tell right now by my experience is that there are not sufficient platforms that help young designers in their early stages. Most of the fashion or design competitions have too many conditions and restrictions to be able to participate when there are plenty of great talents around the corner who don’t have any background, experience, or available collections on the market and need to be surrounded to achieve all of the above. Regarding any philanthropic contribution to society, I have planned to submit a design for an exclusive capsule collection. This initiative is directly inspired by the current sanitary crisis and the entire proceeds will be donated to charity. Wish me luck.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

VT : It's a beautiful thing when someone's career and passion come together and I work on making a business out of my talent for several years now. I have been blessed with meaningful encounters and opportunities throughout my journey that have comforted me in the fact that I have actually something to do in this industry and the A’ Design Award & Competition may help me to reach the next level. As I didn’t evolve in the field I want to grow in, I need to expand my network and find the right investors and collaborators. A competition like the A 'Design Award is, therefore, an excellent move to remedy my lack of visibility.

Vassili Tselebidis Profile

Interlock Rings

Interlock Rings design by Vassili Tselebidis


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