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Designs by Alina:  Handcrafted jewelry fabricated with gold, pave diamonds, and choice pearls for the sophisticated modern-classic woman. Beauty and inspiration forever entwined. Lifestyle blog on design, travel, fashion, family.

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A few musings from my travels and experiences that inspire me as well as what's new for Designs by Alina.

Blog Travel, family, interior design, jewelry design and fashion.

 

 

New 18K solid gold jewels inspired by modern art

Alina de Albergaria

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Whether it is a piece of jewelry, my home, or wardrobe, I have always favored the juxtaposition of the avant-garde and classic over mainstream trend. There is something very alluring about moving forward with a nod to the past while honing one’s own style. Since its inception four years ago, Designs by Alina has embraced that philosophy as well as the ideas that beauty and inspiration should forever be entwined and that quality should never be compromised for the sake of design. Today I am thrilled to take those notions even further with the introduction of our 18K Gallery Collection. 

It has been very rewarding to collaborate over the years with nonprofits from coast to coast. Our most recent partnership with The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, "Influential Women in Art and Design" is unique in that this new collection is inspired by art and designed precisely to benefit the very community that galvanized it. We are grateful to the foundation's Executive Director, Frederick Janka, for the months of preparation leading up to the launch and honored to support those who help immortalize a moment in time, a moment in culture, through their commitment to create.

When I set out to design this first conceptual collection in the series, I had four goals in mind:

  1. Use high karat gold which is unparalleled for its richness in color and texture.
  2. Fabricate a cohesive collection that is in equal measure meaningful and stunning. 
  3. Each heirloom quality piece to be fabricated by hand in my beloved state.
  4. Donate a percentage of proceeds to organizations that support the arts and collaborate with galleries and museums to propel their work.

About the first collection in this artist inspired series…

When Frederick turned my attention to Xaviera Simmons, recently named by Elle Magazine as “one of the most powerful women in art today,” known for her multimedia exhibits at MoMA, The Guggenheim and MCA Chicago among many museums, I was captivated. The moment I saw the piece below: Untitled (Green), I knew I had found my inspiration.

 Xaviera Simmons  Untitled  (Green), 2016 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation

Xaviera Simmons Untitled (Green), 2016 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation

  Uncovered  ring - 18K solid gold and white diamonds hand-forged in California

Uncovered ring - 18K solid gold and white diamonds hand-forged in California

I knew very little about the artist when I designed Uncovered (previous page) but as the days and weeks progressed my obsession to understand the mind behind the work sent me on a quest to unearth everything I could on Simmons. The internet became my best friend offering a plethora of insightful podcasts, videos, interviews, and of course, images of her work, each new revelation fueling my own creativity.

When we met, I was delighted to learn that she is a kindred spirit of sorts with whom I share many interests and views. While we have both been infused with an insatiable need to create (Xaviera describes herself as “restless” when it comes to filling that need) I also discovered that her desire to carve out meaning as it relates to culture, spirit, and landscape, is suspended somewhere between past, present and future, a theme that runs deep in her ever evolving work. That fusion of nostalgia with the unexpected has been a topic of interest to me since childhood, especially as our family was uprooted so often. This is just one of the many ways I feel connected to Simmons’ work.

The rest of the collection was inspired, not only by her works, but by the conversations that followed. Our Cocoon necklace, for example, incorporates elements from Around the Y, (2010) as well as conversations Xaviera and I shared about the preservation of culture and being home. 

 Xaviera Simmons,  Around the Y , 2010 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Modern Notes Podcast

Xaviera Simmons, Around the Y, 2010 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Modern Notes Podcast

  Cocoon  necklace - 18K solid gold hand-forged in California

Cocoon necklace - 18K solid gold hand-forged in California

While the necklace below Canyon, draws inspiration from Simmons’ love of landscape, our Migration earrings, spawn from conversations revolving around the theme of migration and Simmons’ work Superunknown (Alive In The) (2010).

 Xaviera Simmons,  Canyon , 2010 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Modern Notes Podcast

Xaviera Simmons, Canyon, 2010 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Modern Notes Podcast

  Canyon  necklace, 18K solid sold, hand-forged in California

Canyon necklace, 18K solid sold, hand-forged in California

  Migration  earrings, hand-forged in California with 18K solid gold

Migration earrings, hand-forged in California with 18K solid gold

You may discover the full collection here: 18K Gallery Collection

With deep appreciation to Xaviera Simmons for the inspiration and wonderful conversations, to Frederick Janka for his friendship, support and laughter, and to the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation for giving artists a wonderful platform from which to evolve.

 

Influential Women in Art and Design featuring our 18K Gallery Collection

Alina de Albergaria

  Influential Women in Art and Design  with host Frederick Janka, Executive Director of The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, multimedia artist Xaviera Simmons, and Designs by Alina founder, Alina de Albergaria.

Influential Women in Art and Design with host Frederick Janka, Executive Director of The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, multimedia artist Xaviera Simmons, and Designs by Alina founder, Alina de Albergaria.

The much anticipated Influential Women in Art and Design took place last weekend in our family home nestled between the halcyon hills of Santa Barbara and Montecito. Featuring the unveiling of our 18K Gallery Collection, the event was held to benefit the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation. Among the attendees were the artist who inspired the collection, Xaviera Simmons, known for her multimedia exhibits at the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Gina Tolleson, Executive Editor of Santa Barbara Magazine, Lila Glasoe Francese and Frederick Janka, respectively the President and Executive Director of The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, among others.

The artist and designer kicked off the event by conversing about the sources of inspiration behind their work and the importance of supporting fellow creatives. The afternoon would not have been complete without the artful cuisine of celebrated chef Lori Stern whose gorgeous edibles blended in seamlessly with the picturesque landscape.

Last but not least we leave you with a peek at the collection:

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Want to see it all?  Sure you do

Cookies for the Flower Obsessed

Alina de Albergaria

I love jewels.

I love design.

I love flowers.

And now I really love cookies.

 Flower Pressed Shortbread Cookies • Photo courtesy of loriastern.com

Flower Pressed Shortbread Cookies • Photo courtesy of loriastern.com

She's talented, clever, and makes the most gorgeous cookies ever.

Meet Lori Stern, a self-taught private chef and baker who credits much of her success to social media which has enabled her to finetune her culinary skills and market her epicurean offerings. A flower lover after my own heart, she is “inspired by the romance of wild edible flowers and medicinal herbs” many of which she organically grows in her own garden.

It's no wonder that her creative genius has recently caught the attention of Vogue and Anthropologie, that her Instagram following has ballooned overnight, and that she is busy shipping out heaps of those romantic edibles across the country.  What's more, just today I discovered that she hand paints each and every one of her cookie boxes!

We are thrilled to see what stunning creations she has in store for our 18K Gallery Collection launch next month. But I have my eyes (and taste buds) set on those spring rolls!

For more information and to purchase from her online shop, visit loriastern.com.

All photos courtesy of Lori Stern and loriastern.com.

 

 

The New 18K Gallery Collection

Alina de Albergaria

Only seven weeks away...

We are thrilled to announce the soon to be unveiled 18K Gallery Collection, a unique bespoke jewelry line inspired by today's most prominent artists. 

Xaviera Simmons, who Elle Magazine recently named as "one of the most powerful women in art today," is the inspiration behind our first 18K Gallery Collection in this new series of artist inspired jewels, hand forged in California.

 Xaviera Simmons, Untitled (Green), 2016 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation

Xaviera Simmons, Untitled (Green), 2016 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation

When Frederick Janka, Executive Director of The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, introduced me to Simmons' work I was immediately captivated by what I perceived as a quest for truth. Upon meeting her, I discovered that the artist's desire to unearth meaning as it relates to culture, spirit, and landscape, is suspended somewhere between past, present and future, a theme that runs deep in her work. That fusion of nostalgia and the unexpected has been a topic of interest to me since childhood especially as our family was uprooted so often.

Inspired by the artwork above, our Uncovered ring showcases the rich colors and textures of high karat gold and beautiful luster of white diamonds that beckon a deeper look.

  Uncovered,  hand-forged in 18K solid gold with white diamonds.

Uncovered, hand-forged in 18K solid gold with white diamonds.

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The full 18K Gallery Collection will be unveiled in April with the artist who inspired it, at an exclusive event to benefit the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation,  dedicated to supporting the arts and sciences. Check back with us as we uncover the rest of the collection.

Christmas on Fire: a Tale of Silver Lining

Alina de Albergaria

The power of recall

Early morning. White robe. Tears. Confusion.

I remember it with remarkable clarity, the horror when I saw the second Twin Tower collapse on live television. Was it a replay of the first? And the press junket I attended in New York when the final verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder trial was read which led to silence, disbelief and bewilderment. The 1994 earthquake rendered me standing in the middle of my Los Angeles living room with the thought "at least I will die happy."

The ease with which those memories can be summoned to mind astounds me.

Not so with the Thomas fire. There is no single moment to archive, no single flash of consternation, but many which collectively take on a myriad meanings.

December 2, 2017

 
 

When our family hosted a Christmas party in early December, we could not have foreseen the fury that mother nature would unleash a mere two days later, one that would cast an ashen shadow on the year’s most luminous of seasons. I don’t recall where I was when news about the Thomas fire broke, but three days after that initial ember dared extend its reach, Ventura had lost over four hundred structures and our own little piece of paradise found itself on the brink of terror.

 
 

Casting a pink hue in our sitting room, the obscenely alluring sunrise foretold the story of a battle lost, and that evening a breathtaking sunset (in the literal sense) prompted our family to flee the following day.

On the move

It was December seventh, three days after the fire enkindled. Hastily tossing what we could into a suitcase, we drove up to Pismo Beach where we were to meet up with other Santa Barbara families in search of clean air. The plan was to stay for a day or two until the fire and wind subsided. What were we thinking? At a mere 10% containment, 0% on the side menacing to creep into our city, we would not be returning anytime soon.

But surely one could dream of being home for Christmas, right?

On the drive up, one of my friends cautioned about a small fire she saw along the way. Minutes later another described in a panic that the small fire had presented itself on her path as an ominous cloud of smoke through which she and her three children had blindly driven. She warned me to "stay the %*$# away!" A third friend threw in the towel short of her destination in favor of a nearby theatre where she and her family were hoping to shed a few layers of frenzy. Determined to reach our hotel, we located an alternate route just before the 101 North was shut down.

Our first evacuation night marked the beginning of a sort of kinship that many of us don't get the opportunity to experience. Planning dinner with friends can sometimes be logistically challenging, but mother nature made her voice clear causing prior commitments to vanish like mist in the rain. With nerves frazzled, our family found comfort seated with friends and strangers who like us allowed their anxiety to morph into laughter and a good dose of much needed silliness.

 
 

While in Rome

Within a couple of days we were living like locals, eating lots of fried food, hanging out on the pier and trying our luck at bowling, but our voracious crew was ready for more and soon our teens, tots, dads, and a few moms were in the sand dunes kicking up dust without a care in the world.

 
 

Nighttime's revenge

I was having a tough time reconciling the loss of many with our own sense of joy. One death had been recorded and the parents of a dear friend of mine, who had already lost a house to fire, were now facing an apocalyptic return to their Ventura home, the only one standing within blocks of bereft chimneys and charred landscape completely leveled to the ground. Nighttime took its revenge with images of horror creeping into my mind like ants to their colony, flagrant thoughts intent on stripping me from the comfort and joy I had found in my Santa Barbara pack.

By our third day away from home the fire, which would eventually become the largest in our state's history, was threatening our own community despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters battling flames day and night.  Merciless winds and severe dry weather conditions caused it to spread with such ferocity that our new refuge, 100 miles away, was completely veiled in smoke prompting us to pack up once again and seek asylum.

My husband rented a car and drove back home with our son to retrieve priceless objects like wedding albums and the tapestry from his childhood homes in Italy and Portugal. More importantly, he offered safe harbor to our housekeeper who had been suffering through the Santa Barbara smoke, as well as our dogs and leopard gecko who had stayed behind.

Silver lining

Imagine that you are somewhere between nine and eleven roaming free on a 500 acre playground peppered with wild turkeys, deer, and some of your favorite people skipping alongside you. Days brim with swimming, hide-and-seek, cart wheels, soccer, and pizza "almost" on demand ("almost" hinging upon on your parent's consent, but because they are both worried about the fire and happy to be with friends, they usually acquiesce.) Evenings bring movies, more pizza and an endless supply of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers to make s'mores over a roaring fire contained within the walls of a fire pit, the proper venue for a blaze to reside. Outings include visits to town for ice cream and cookies, a trip to one of the the world's largest aquariums, a day at the amusement park and a hike along an oceanside state reserve.

 
 

Welcome to Carmel Valley Ranch

There was much to embrace in that small piece of paradise we called home. Cognizant of the gift we had in one another, we fell into daily routines sharing everything from wine and stories to childcare and shoes. As we welcomed new members of our Santa Barbara kin to the dinner table and into our lives we were overcome by a sense of gratitude and joy.

Releasing the guilt

 
 

Photo credits: ig @ck_sb, unknown, David McFadden

Images like these began to circle around the net while my family and fellow evacuees embraced life at its fullest. The inequity of it all gnawed at my conscience, darkness again menacing to avenge. I couldn't stop thinking of all the people directly affected by the tragedy, the brave men and women on the front lines tirelessly fighting that monster and the hundreds who now found themselves in city shelters. One night while nearly a thousand firefighters surrounded the city to protect our homes, the same question lingered like a noontide shadow: Is it right to feel joy when your neighbor is in distress? But by then our own neighborhood was under mandatory evacuation. I didn't know if we or our fellow evacuees would have a home upon our return. What we did have was each other, and at that moment I realized that much like happiness, the vicissitudes of life are in a constant state of ebb and flow. And so it was that I sent my guilt packing on an adventure of its own while our traveling pack basked in the ephemeral joy of life's gift.

Leaving the flock.

There were only four days left before Santa was due to visit, we needed to make a dent in our Christmas shopping. The flock had been together for the better part of two weeks and while we didn't want to part ways, the stars had aligned themselves perfectly for a return to San Francisco, the city we once called home. Our son was already there, my husband was in the area working and the girls had hatched a plan to visit old classmates. To make things easier, our friends, who were visiting the Galapagos, offered us their Pacific Heights home. Many glassy eyes and embraces later, we bid farewell to our evacuee family in route to the Golden City. What ensued was a comedy of errors involving faulty keys, locksmiths, a malfunctioning thermostat, unexpected guests, and a very cold night.

The following morning it arrived. An early Christmas gift: 

 
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Pinch me, I'm dreaming.

Would we be home for Christmas? With three days left and toxic ashes waiting in ambush for our return, we needed to spawn a plan. 

Plan B (or C or D...it's all a blur)

With the help of my husband and friends up north, I scheduled some fun for our trio in the city which included shopping (our eldest becoming my city elf) and ice skating at Union Square. The tapestry, albums, poodles and gecko found their way back into the car as we headed back home nonstop to tackle the mess, hoping to have things somewhat under control before Bernardo and the children arrived the following night. 

Home at long last

Over the course of two days, our gardeners, housekeeper, handymen and I took on the aftermath with a vengeance. N95 masks became our new friends as we attacked the sea of ashes that had engulfed our home and garden. Our injured tapestry was repaired and mounted while kind neighbors brought packages they retrieved in our absence, and local businesses on the verge of collapse began to see the light.

 
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Emotions were raw. Instinct took over one morning when I spotted a fire engine on the road ahead and floored the gas to reach it. I made eye contact with the driver and mouthed the words "thank you" prompting him to smile and mouth back "you're welcome". My eyes welled up with tears. 

Like an astronaut coming home from the ISS, feelings of elation and gratitude ensued as I woke with my husband and children on Christmas morning in the house I wanted to hug. And as we gathered round the table that evening with friends who had braved the Santa Barbara smoke and a few of our beloved fellow evacuees, we took a moment to raise a glass to the fearless souls who had placed themselves in harms way to save the lives and homes of strangers.

 
 

Funny how in the midst of all the chaos we lamented the loss of the yuletide spirit.

And yet it never left.

May 2018 fill your lives with gratitude and silver linings.

 
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