Local Heroes #26 - Carla Szabo

Carla is a contemporary jewelry designer based in Bucharest that grew increasingly popular over the past years due to the authenticity and diversity of her designs.

Published by Alexa on 22/04/2015

One of the most relevant Romanian contemporary designers, Carla Szabo has been creating subtle yet intricate pieces of jewelry, accessories and objects of an architectural precision, for more than 12 years. “Producing two collections a year that display a relentless drive for innovation, Carla Szabo is one of a handful of pioneering independent designers in Romania”. (The New York Times)

We kindly asked Carla to answer a few questions about her work and to get a bit of insight into the Bucharest design scene.

How did the jewelry design story begin?

The story began back when I still worked as an interior designer. I took part in a handmade fair with my first fashion accessories series—broaches made of buttons and lace, in the shape of butterflies and bugs. I continuously went on producing this idea for the coming 12 years, under the “Bugs–Think big!” name.

How would you describe the objects you create? How do you choose the materials?

Each object comes with a story or a concept. They are a natural materialisation of a message or emotion that I want to transmit to the world. I always choose the materials so that they illustrate and support the respective concept.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find it in the world around me. The jewels I create are the sum of each emotion and idea I come in contact with. Just like a tree grows an apple nourishing from the soil, the water and the sunrays—that’s how I also “grow” my objects.

How does Bucharest influences your design?

As I mentioned before, everything around me influences what I do. Bucharest is my “adoptive” city, my home for now. It sometimes inspires me; other times it limits me. It’s the space I live in and its personality is inevitably imprinted. In fact, one of my collections—The SurFaces—speaks about the city and its citizens.

The collection tells the story of the modern human, adapting himself and his life in a citadel; struggling not to forget his pure essence, deeply humane, delicate and sensitive. 


Bucharest is my “adoptive” city, my home for now. It sometimes inspires me; other times it limits me.

Each and every day, people show multiple facets of their personality. But the truth is unique. The truth lies in the heart. One creates facets as a protection, a surface shield to protect a more fragile inner side. If smile, anger or seriousness might be read on ones face, they sometimes act as a protection to prevent true emotions to come to the surface.

Through the variety of the materials used the accessories in the “Sur-faces” collection express this complementarity. With rigid facets, shiny or silky surfaces, they decorate the body and feed the soul.

What is, in your opinion, the role of design in Bucharest's future?

We live in a material, commodity world. This sets us apart from animals, from nature, that act as our "support". We increasingly surround ourselves with them; (too) many times we even use them to fill the void in us. I believe design could make a difference between simple plain consumerism and usefulness. "Real" design serves our practical and esthetic needs, creating harmony between the two. It imprints a feel-good state of mind—needed in both personal and social contexts.

Do jewelry fairs in Bucharest have an impact in "democratizing" the local design?

Over the past 12 years—ever since I've started to participate in such fairs, I happily noticed that people are increasingly visually educated. That comes with with a deeper understanding of what's behind the design process of unique, limited series objects. The public started to appreciate the objects at their proper value.

Tell our readers about your plans in the near future.

I'm planning to maintain a system in which I can continue my work as a designer—a design-production-sales set that is efficient and sustainable on a long term. A system that grows organically at its own pace, depending on the "outside weather".

Is there anything you would like to transmit to young, aspiring artists in Bucharest?

They should understand that their talent, their passion—it isn't worth a lot until they integrate it in a system able to further develop. Buddhists say that you can only drink milk from a glass. Otherwise, it effuses into the soil and you are no longer able to enjoy its nutrients.

Thank you, Carla, for sharing your thoughts with our readers. For more information on Carla's designs, visit https://www.facebook.com/carla.szabo.design

Photo credits: Sebastian Oros, Catalin Olteanu, Cornel Lazia

- Alexa -

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