To a T

Maybe it’s because she’s the first female design director in Tiffany & Co.’s 177-year-old history, but Francesca Amfitheatrof isn’t afraid to stand the silver and jewelry emporium’s trademarks on their ears. Take the signature “T” cuff and bangle, which have gone horizontal to suggest a clasp. It’s bold, uncluttered, contemporary – which is just the way Amfitheatrof likes her new Tiffany T Collection.

Maybe, too, because this Japanese-born British beauty has lived all over the world, she’s not afraid to combine things in unusual ways – silver with gold in various hues, fine jewelry with jeans and a T (as in shirt).

As she told August Vogue, “The idea is to mix fine pieces with a string bracelet or your beach holiday beads or something your granny gave you.”

While she makes her home in Brooklyn with a tech hubby, two kids and two pooches, she spent part of the summer traveling in Asia. We feel fortunate that we were able to pin her down via email for a few questions about the new collection:

We are struck by the marvelous complementary quality of your delicate jewelry designs and your bolder, sculpted works that evoke Modern art. Given this, what can we look forward to in the new Tiffany T collection?

“Tiffany T is jewelry that you want to touch and feel and play with. There’s a wide range of scale in the collection, which allows people to put different pieces together in a way that really says something about their sensibility and personality.

“I find the most powerful statement you can make with these pieces is by playing with that, mixing it up, creating contrast and tension with size and shape. You have very delicate pieces that work well when they’re mixed together with big, sculptural cuffs and softer chains. “The collection is offered in 18-karat gold – rose, yellow and white – and cool sterling silver, which has such a great crisp feeling to it. For people who want to wear precious stones in a really modern way, there are a number of diamond pieces that are inspired by sketches from the 1920s that I found in the Tiffany archives.”

Your background is in jewelry design and silversmithing. How does that inform your home designs?

“I’m obsessed with form and function, and it seems to me that because metal is so malleable and changeable, you can do anything with it. Always, always, I start with a dream, something I see in my head that won’t fade until I get it down on paper. I love those initial drawings, when anything is possible and your mind is wide open.

“I like to start with a sketch, to give the design process a human element, a real touch. But I enjoy the entire process, the journey of taking a vivid idea and doing all the practical and technical thinking that makes a piece possible to produce beautifully.”

I know you’ve recently been traveling in Asia. Any particular inspirations there? Or, more to the point, what inspires you?

“I grew up all over the world and have immersed myself in music, art, film and theater along the way. I particularly love Asian art and ceramics. There’s a real sensitivity to form and a very pared down and clean aesthetic. Also, I lived in Italy for a time when I was growing up, and beauty and art surround you all the time. And in New York, people have such great energy and curate their looks in a really interesting way.”

You’re going out for a night on the town. What would you select to wear from any of Tiffany’s magnificent collections?

“The possibilities for styling this collection are just about endless, which adds an element of fun and individuality. I love the square bracelet in 18 karat gold. It’s not the largest piece in the collection, but it has great presence on its own while also somehow working in well with any other piece in the collection for a more textured, layered look.”

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