Ayça Özbank Taskan is a Turkish/French architect and designer. For her jewellery brand Mara Paris, she is inspired by all the different European countries she has lived in. Being part of all these different cultures, her jewellery is wonderfully diverse and enjoyed by many. Designed to challenge how we view jewellery, blurring the lines between architecture and design. Mara Paris perfectly balances architectural lines and romantic modern jewellery designs. The brand speaks to the imagination of any art, architectural, and design lover. The jewellery brand ranges from more traditional rings and bracelets to modern earrings. Numéro Netherlands had the pleasure of asking Ayça some questions about the journey of her brand and its inclusive marketing efforts.

 Please share a little about the journey that has led you to become the jeweller, designer, and brand owner you are today.

My journey into the world of jewellery design was not a preconceived plan but rather a natural evolution of my passion for design and my desire to explore new avenues of creativity. As an architect, my education and experience have been primarily focused on the creative design aspect of the discipline rather than the technical construction-oriented side. I have always enjoyed projects that presented unique challenges, particularly those that involved various constraints and scales. As we moved from Helsinki to Paris, I found myself inspired by the city’s creative and entrepreneurial energy. I started working on some jewellery designs, initially as a personal creative pursuit. After I had created the first prototypes of a collection, my husband Gökçe encouraged me to create a brand. So, we embarked on this long and rewarding journey. My background in architecture, with its emphasis on design and creative problem-solving, has proven to be an invaluable asset in my journey as a jewellery designer. Creating jewellery is a highly sculptural process, like imagining and crafting architectural forms. While the scales of the two design practices may be vastly different, the fundamental principles of design remain the same. A common thread that ties together is the essential need for form to be aesthetically pleasing and functional. In both fields, the beauty of the design must be balanced with practical considerations such as durability, wearability, and ease of use. As a brand owner, I have found that my role is centred around the art of dreaming and transforming those dreams into a tangible reality.

From my research, I understand you grew up in Istanbul in a creative household that allowed you to pursue your career in architecture, which has led you to move across Europe to experience your trade through the lease of multiple different cultures. How would you say those cultures translate in your company?

I have been fortunate enough to live in different cities across Europe. Through this journey, every language I’ve learned and every culture I’ve lived in taught me to be open-minded. Successfully navigating new environments requires a willingness to observe, comprehend, and assimilate the diverse practices of varying cultures. Personally, I find that exploring the rich history of art, design, and architecture is an ideal means of achieving this. Because art, design, and architecture are situated at the crossroads of various social, cultural, economic, and political factors that shape our world. Immersing oneself in these experiences enriches one’s cultural perspective and enhances creative vision. This spirit of exploration and discovery is at the heart of Mara Paris.

I have noticed that social media branding has a theme of diverse (hand) models. Anyone from celebrities to everyday people of all ages and skin colours, is this a conscious choice that is of importance to you?

Absolutely. Thank you for noticing our efforts in bringing up this point. We are committed to promoting inclusivity and diversity in all aspects of life. I’m passionate about change and transformation, and I believe that diversity is a crucial aspect of that. Mara Paris’s pieces are designed to be versatile and can be worn in many different ways. We have customers from over 80 countries spanning various ages and backgrounds. It’s incredible to see our jewellery worn by people from all walks of life, from 15-year-olds to 85-year-olds. Jewellery is a timeless accessory that transcends boundaries. It has been an intriguing accessory throughout history, dating back to prehistoric times. Its versatility is defined only by the individual wearing it, allowing for endless possibilities of personal expression.

Looking at your diverse clientele, is this something you keep in mind while designing a new collection?

My design process draws inspiration from architecture and modern art, with the aim of creating pieces that are not just jewellery but also visually captivating objects. I strive to make each piece aesthetically pleasing and satisfying to hold. I believe that anyone interested in these aspects, regardless of age, gender, culture, or geography, would appreciate and wear Mara Paris jewellery. While I do not specifically target a diverse audience, my design philosophy and language naturally cater to a broad range of people, making me incredibly happy.

In a prior interview or on your website, it is mentioned that dissolving boundaries and transcending codes is part of your jewellery. What does this mean to you?

In the past, there were certain expectations about what types of jewellery were appropriate for different ages, genders, and skin colours. To me, dissolving boundaries and transcending codes means breaking free from these constraints. I believe that jewellery should be about personal expression and self-confidence. I focus on creating versatile and expressive forms that anyone can wear and feel confident in, regardless of age, gender, or cultural background. Mara Paris jewellery empowers the wearer and allows them to express their unique style and personality. You don’t need anything else when you feel confident and empowered wearing our jewellery.

What does jewellery mean to you, and what do you hope to give your consumers with your jewellery?

To me, jewellery is more than just an accessory; but a form of self-expression. The jewellery we wear communicates a lot about ourselves to the world. I design jewellery that I would want to wear myself, with the goal of creating something unique, empowering, and aesthetically pleasing. Jewellery should be special and not something that is seen everywhere. I believe that jewellery can transform even the simplest outfits, helping the wearer stand out in any room they enter. I hope to share this sense of empowerment and uniqueness with Mara Paris customers.



TEXT: Wies Kuijpers