At ESQUELETO, we love the dichotomy between bold and delicate, dark and light, special occasion and everyday favorites. The AILI collection, designed and handcrafted by Monica Ruzansky, falls on the light end of the spectrum, both in concept and execution.It was such a pleasure to chat with one of my fav designers about her work, artistic practice and the inspiration behind her gorgeous, effortless pieces.
Alexis: AILI means "light" in Gaelic. Can you explain why you chose this name for your line, and how that is expressed in your work?
Monica: The presence of light has always been a profound influence on my creative life. Everything that we see is revealed by light, and the fact that nature grows beautiful gemstones that reflect back that light in such delicate and surprising ways is truly magical. When I design small-scale jewelry I’ve always secretly tried to give it a touch of that magic - looking for ways that the piece can capture a fleeting moment of light and transform it into glittering color. I think it’s amazing how a change in light can bring something to life, and so I try to design for that.
Photography is also one of my biggest passions, and so working well with light was crucial, in order to get good results. Over the years I have slowly understood how to look at it, how to play and work with it. In photography light is everything.
A: You grew up in the vibrant cultural hub of Mexico City. How did that influence your design aesthetic? How does your current city, Brooklyn, affect the way you create designs? Where else do you draw inspiration from?
M: Strangely enough, although I grew up in the city, my first collection was inspired by the waters of the Riviera Maya. When I was younger, I used to go with my friends to Tulum (which was just a little-known village back then), and I was always struck by the color of the ocean there. Because of that influence, I used a lot of turquoise in my designs.
Living in Brooklyn has really helped me in the business aspect. There are so many independent creative people here, and that environment inspired me to have faith in my own creativity and start my own business. It's such an engaging city with constant stimulation. Also, the casual, informal style of Brooklyn is something that has always felt right to me. I use small stones not only because they are light weight and easy to wear, but also because they have an understated elegance. I like that balance.
When I design, I really follow my instinct and inspiration truly does come when least expected. I draw a lot in my imagination and I try to be disciplined about sketching every idea out, even if I don't think it's a great design in that moment. I often find that when I go back to my older sketches and look at them from a different perspective something new evolves that makes my heart beat faster!
A: What are your favorite new designs from your collection? What was the inspiration behind these pieces?
M: For the latest collection, I started to work more in wax in order to get more of an organic feel. I used more color for a warmer look. I went through a very rough time in my personal life, and when things finally started to get a little better and I came out of the other side of the dark tunnel, all I could see was light, sunshine. It might sound like a cliche, but it’s true! The Sunburst, Bright Sun and Postcard Charm collections all came from translating those dark months into something hopeful, warm and full of light.