Innovations: Strands of romance

Making a business out of wistful notions.

liliana 88 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
liliana 88 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Every morning, as the sun rises over an azure Mediterranean Sea, one young Israeli artist finds inspiration during a fast-paced walk down the Tel Aviv boardwalk. Liliana, whose one-name title parallels icons like Madonna and Prince, is an energetic red-head who started making and selling her own jewelry designs a little over five years ago. "My daily walk to the Dolphinarium and back along the beach connects me to nature, gives me ideas about new designs and lets off energy," she says. "And I'm a Gemini so I could never do just one thing at a time." Best known for her necklaces, which combine nostalgic images with antique metal lockets, Liliana's work constantly markets new fusions. "No one is inventing anything completely new," says Liliana. "But combining things that already exist in an unusual way lends interesting contrasts to design." One good example of this philosophy lies in the first necklaces Liliana ever made - dreamy, old-fashioned photos of "Roaring Twenties" women hanging from square metal army tags on long beaded strands. Aside from the obvious statements about love, history and war, the necklaces attracted many women because of their go-with-everything, trend-setting qualities. "My older sister was always the talented one in the family. She was always painting and doing ceramics, but she eventually became a nutritionist, and I am the one who went into design," Liliana says. Born in Kishinev, Russia, Liliana made aliya with her older sister and parents as a baby and was raised in Holon. By the age of 14, she had decided upon a career as a designer. With her alabaster skin, big brown eyes and shortly-cropped bangs, her appearance matches the m lange of romance and retro so common in her work. "I was always fascinated by materials and kinetic designs," says Liliana, who was looking for a way to combine her love for graphic design with jewelry when she decided to manipulate wistful, old-fashioned images in the computer and then mount them into settings for necklaces. Recently, Liliana also began to embed images in antique, rustic buckles on wide, leather belts and design hand-printed T-shirts with delicate, flowery patterns. "I work with all of the images until I get them just right, and a lot of touches are hand-drawn and finished," says Liliana. She also illustrates design logos for clients like the Sisters stores in Tel Aviv, and is always adding new variety to her designs. "I started out selling in Nahalat Binyamin, just after Michal Negrin had left," says Liliana, who decided to quit her full-time job as a graphic designer to enter the high-risk world of freelancing about three years ago. In high school, Liliana studied industrial design and graduated from the Escola College of graphic design in Tel Aviv. She always wanted to be a designer, but hesitated to branch out on her own. "After I finished my degree, I worked for six years as a graphic designer for large companies. I always felt there was something better, but I didn't know I wanted to be independent. It seemed so difficult to build my own business, especially in Israel." Like many contemporary artists, Liliana's goal is to make small numbers of each item to maintain originality, but this poses financial challenges because while mass production means more money faster, it turns off buyers seeking something special that they won't see everywhere else. "I enjoy creating handmade things, and I am trying to build a unique and small designer brand with limited editions," she says. Recently, Liliana has faced an even bigger problem. Another designer has decided to make a career out of imitating her work, and although the lawyers say she has a case, winning in court will not be easy. "I stopped making my army tag necklaces after the design was imitated, but when new things came out, this same person dared to imitate me again by copying my latest jewelry," says Liliana. "It is infuriating, especially when committees checking originality for the designer market find our things too similar and my designs are the ones being copied." Despite the hardships, Liliana's designer items are sold today in upscale stores in Barcelona, Berlin and Switzerland. Liliana says that maintaining connections abroad is time-consuming and complicated, but it gives her a much larger market. In addition to the international venues, Liliana's latest creations are also available in stores all over Israel like Catomenta on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, Soho in Dizengoff Center, Keo on Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem and Rip in Rehovot. Clients are also welcome in her studio by appointment, and Liliana will host a booth at the upcoming design market in Ganei Hata'arucha next month, August 17-19, just outside Tel Aviv. "My dream for the future is to create a union of designers who will help each other and work together to further our collective interests," says Liliana. "It's difficult to do because designers tend to be suspicious of one another, but I hope to help make it happen one day in Israel." For more information, visit Liliana's Web site at or contact her by phone at 054-539-6206.