Brazilian jeweller Silvia Furmanovich on prayer-bead necklaces and the cultural heart of Bali
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My personal style signifiers are my prayer-bead necklaces. I’ve bought many of them – made from different kinds of seeds – in India and Nepal, and others are antique. Last year in Korea, I went through the ritual of making my own in a monastery in the mountains.
The last thing I bought and loved was an important cubic pyrite from a Spanish mine, while I was on a trip to Telluride and Boulder, Colorado. It’s so rare to find a perfect cube formation. Crystal Galleries, 1302 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302 (crystalgalleries.com)
The thing I’m eyeing next is a vintage robe from the Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan’s Hokkaido region, that I saw in a boutique called Shibui in Brooklyn. I always wear a vintage kimono or kaftan during the day. I discovered Ainu robes by studying the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From $10,000; shibui.com
A recent “find” is The End of History, an Aladdin’s cave of treasures in Manhattan’s West Village. It specialises in vintage glass from all over the world. Last time I was there, I admired a 1950s Italian vase with a trompe-l’oeil necklace around it. 548 1/2 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki, who describes different tones of black in amazing ways. There are always layers of depth in Japanese art, in which you’ll find something hidden. I’m currently working on a Japanese-inspired collection called “Obi”.
My favourite room in my São Paulo apartment is my bedroom. It has big windows and a wooden ceiling and is a cosy place to read, watch films and practise yoga. I no longer just accumulate things; everything in this room has to have a meaning. I keep my favourite incense there in an antique Japanese wooden box that I bought from the dealer Peter Petrou at PAD London last year. It’s from the Taisho period, from 1912 to 1926; it is carved in the form of a turtle with a youngster on its back and has an exquisite red-lacquered interior. peterpetrou.com
An indulgence I would never forgo is massages. One of my favourites is with a therapist called Yasue at the spa in Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca. It is one of the most exquisite and relaxing places I’ve been to, a true oasis in the middle of the city. The 250-year-old barn beams that make up the swimming pool area were brought in from Japan. Shibui Spa, The Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich St, NY 10013 (+1212-941 8900; thegreenwichhotel.com/shibui-spa)
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Ilha do Ferro, in Brazil’s northeast region of Alagoas, a small community by the river renowned for its local handicrafts and artisans, sometimes called the Brazilian “Marfa”. It has a very special energy. You find incredible sculptors in that whole region who use local woods and roots of trees to create whimsical, colourful, lifelike pieces. One of my favourites is the self-taught artist Véio from the Sertão, who sculpts haunting and beautiful half-human, half-animal figures. His work was on view at an exhibition organised by Marni during the Venice Biennale a few years back, so he is starting to gain international recognition.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was an oversized, multicoloured Etro coat made of wool jacquard. It’s already one of my favourite items in my closet. I bought it on 1stdibs, as it was from a past collection. 1stdibs.com
My style icon is Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. She has an amazing natural style: always modest, always in long sleeves and a turban or hijab.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose New York’s West Village. Cap Beauty is a very special natural skincare boutique: I love its Neroli-infused marula oil from a brand called African Botanics. And I love The Meadow, a store specialising in all kinds of salt, including Himalayan pink salt, and the best chocolates in the world. They have a “library” of chocolate from places like Madagascar, Vietnam and Grenada. I love one called Marou Ben Tre from Vietnam. African Botanics Pure Marula Oil, $100 for 30ml; africanbotanics.com. Marou Ben Tre dark chocolate, $9.50; themeadow.com
The beauty staples I’m never without are Guerlain’s kohl eyeliner that I buy at Sephora in Brazil, and Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan perfume – I stock up at his store in Paris at the Palais-Royal. From €27; sephora.com. Ambre Sultan, €120 for 50ml EDP; Serge Lutens, 142 Galerie de Valois, 75001 Paris (sergelutens.com)
The person I rely on for personal wellbeing is my Ashtanga yoga teacher, Márcia de Luca. We’ve made many trips to India together to learn about ayurveda. marciadeluca.com.br
The best gift I’ve received recently was a telephone call from my grandson, aged seven, sharing his thoughts and telling me about his life. He lives in Rio de Janeiro.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Hilma af Klint, a Swedish pioneer of abstract art who was also a mystic. I discovered her work at the Pinacoteca do Estado in São Paulo and fell in love; I felt an instant connection. She recently had a major retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York. CFHill Art Space, Stockholm (cfhill.com)
Things I would never part with are the essential oils I keep in my handbag – lavender, frankincense, rose, ylang ylang… I get them from John Steele, a highly knowledgeable and specialised aromatic consultant and archeologist based in Los Angeles, who searches for rare essences all over the world. John Steele, Lifetree Aromatix, 3949 Longridge, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (+1818-986 0594). From $8.50; available from shop.perfumersapprentice.com
If I didn’t live in São Paulo, I would live in Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali. I felt connected with it in a very strong way the first time I set foot in the place – it was as if I had always lived there. I stayed for a month and loved the simple life, the graciousness, the flowers that are always on the doors; it’s very beautiful. I was at the Amandari, an Aman hotel, one of the most beautiful hotels ever, cascading over rice paddies and jungles. I love the store created by Jean-François Fichot, the late French designer who I knew very well but who tragically died in a car accident in Cuba. He was exceptionally talented. His family still maintain his boutique of exquisite homewares, a lot of Balinese silver, vases, sculptures in wood and silver. At the back of the store there is beautiful jewellery – we were going to work together on a collection. I also adore the Habitat café at the entrance to the Ubud Monkey Forest: the coffee is wonderful, the setting sensational. Amandari, Banjar, Jl. Raya Kedewatan, Kedewatan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571 (+62361-975 333; aman.com). habitatubud.com. Jean-François Fichot, Jl Raya Pengosekan No 7, Ubud, Bali 80571 (+6236-974 652)
The last meal that truly impressed me was lunch at Baekyangsa Temple in the mountains of South Korea with masterchef Jeong Kwan, a Zen Buddhist monk. She prepares the most exquisite fermented food – sometimes it has been buried in the earth for three years. It was vegan, so mostly vegetables, wonderfully flavoured rice, tofu and a spiced pumpkin that I’ll never forget. I also recently had the best meal at ABCV, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s vegetarian restaurant in ABC Carpet & Home in New York. I love the fresh tofu, spicy Szechuan pepper oil, peanuts, grilled and pickled cucumber or the market carrots with stoneground nut and seed butter with chillies and lime. ABC Carpet & Home, 8 East 19th Street, New York, NY 10003 (+1212-475 5829; abchome.com/dine)
The best gifts I’ve given recently were two exquisite pieces of sandstone from the Utah desert, resembling intricately detailed landscapes. I saw a man selling them by the roadside and brought them back for people in my office.
In my fridge you’ll always find fresh juice. I go through phases, and right now I’m pressing it myself from the organic celery I buy from Health & Harmony in New York. I’ll also have dates and dried apricots, which are good for energy. We have a very good gourmet supermarket in Brazil, Santa Luzia – I buy them there. You’ll also find my turmeric face mask: I use a lot of turmeric from Banyan Botanicals, mixing it with honey and other ingredients to create a divine face mask that calms the skin and reduces inflammation. And finally, pure rose water from the market in Bahrain, to spray on my face. banyanbotanicals.com. Health & Harmony, 470 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014 (+1212-691 3036). Supermarket Santa Luzia, Rua Padre João de Castro e Costa 5, Vila Bauab, São Paulo (+5511-2280 5422).
My favourite app is the meditation app Insight Timer. I am trying to use it every day. insighttimer.com
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a perfumer, making customised scents. I think I would work particularly with patchouli, which I love as it reminds me so much of the ’70s. Scents stay in the mind.