The Real Deal New York

Mixing grand designs with trinket-size gifts

Real estate doubles as jewelry
By Katherine Clarke | December 30, 2011 06:27PM

Didn’t get that diamond necklace over the holidays? Real estate lovers, get out your wallets. New Jersey–based designer Pico is unveiling the new line from its “Little Architecture” collection — a series of necklaces, earrings and bracelets inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, Santiago Calatrava and others. The jewelry will debut at this month’s New York International Gift Fair at the Javits Center.

Until recently, Pico founder Andrea Panico was director of product design for Clodagh, a Manhattan-based architecture and interior design firm. In June, she left to work on Pico full-time.

Panico’s designs are for sale at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the Guggenheim museum store. Made from silver, teak and ebony, her pieces don’t resemble specific buildings per se. Rather, she tries to imbue them with an architect’s overall visual style.

“The part of the design that is most interesting to me is the conceptual phase, capturing the feeling that you have when you’re inside a space,” Panico explained.

A necklace inspired by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, for example, feels “clean, minimal, sparse,” she said, while her Frank Lloyd Wright–esque pieces have “more decorative details.”

Panico’s new collection will incorporate the work of Pritzker Prize winner Gordon Bunshaft, who designed New York’s Lever House and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

Pico isn’t the first to see the synergies between architecture and jewelry.

In 2005, famed architect Frank Gehry was tapped by Tiffany & Co. to design a jewelry line. Gehry once told the New York Times that these pieces, which are inspired by architecture but don’t depict actual structures, provide “instant gratification,” whereas “buildings take too long to build.”

Lois Weiss, a real estate columnist for the New York Post, is known for the building-shaped brooches she’s worn for years.

“I have a whole collection,” Weiss told The Real Deal.

Among her most prized pieces are a silver brooch depicting the old World Trade Center buildings, an Empire State Building pin and a platinum-and-diamond piece that reads “Real Estate Goddess.”

For Weiss, the allure of real estate–themed jewelry is simple: “It’s fun,” she said, “and if I have to meet someone, I always say I’m the one walking around with a building pin.”

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