MEET OUR DESIGN TEAM
Meet Our Design Team
Chief Artistic Director
Chief Design Officer
Art historian Diana Widmaier-Picasso and multifaceted designer Sunjoo Moon met when they were both living in Paris and have been close friends for decades. They joined forces for Menē, combining their extensive experience in their respective fields of art and design, and worked closely with skilled craftsmen to fully comprehend and utilize the qualities of pure gold and platinum to create timeless pieces.
Diana and Sunjoo draw inspiration from antiquity when developing designs in pure metal; artists have been paying homage to gold since the beginning of time, the Ancient Egyptians believed that it conferred immortal power, and there is no doubt that the dynamic Menē design team has enhanced both the modern and spiritual values of 24 karat precious metals.
FAVOURITE PIECE OF MENĒ JEWELRY
DIANA: Split Ring
I love the Split Ring and wear it all the time. It’s very sexy and can dress up any outfit, taking it from casual to glamorous in an instant.
SUNJOO: Signet Ring
I've been wearing our Signet Ring around the clock. I feel I have a special connection to it as it’s the first piece I ever tried on.
APPROACH TO DESIGN
Wearing jewelry needs to be a pleasurable and beautiful experience; pieces should fit like a velvet glove and contour perfectly to the body.
Finding the perfect balance between aesthetic and wearability. Jewelry should live on you and not walk in front of you. For jewelry to be timeless and modern, it needs to be functional. Modern line, movement, and volume is found in anything with aesthetic depth.
EXPERIENCE & SOURCE OF PASSION
I’m an art historian specializing in modern art and sculpture as well as the work of my grandfather, Pablo Picasso. He, just like most great artists, produced several pieces of jewelry for his lovers, children, and friends. I love the sense of intimacy inherent in a piece of jewelry. People used to keep pieces in the same family forever and would pass them on from generation to generation. Nowadays, people tend to treat jewelry as disposable items. I want Menē to help bring that sense of tradition into the present – one in which someone is so attached to a piece that they want to keep and wear it forever.
I have decades of professional experience as a European-trained multifaceted designer in luxury goods ranging from accessories, shoes, women’s and men’s luxury ready-to-wear, including Missoni and LVMH’s Kenzo brand.
I also have a personal attachment to jewelry design, which includes spending my childhood designing jewelry with my mother. I think this is where I developed my natural curiosity and obsession for detail and quality. These are things I apply to designing for Menē every day. I’m incredibly passionate about what we’ve created and am excited for what we’re going to create next.
PERSONAL CONNECTION TO MENĒ
The similarities between the enduring value of gold and the timeless value and beauty of great works of art such as those produced by my grandfather and Rembrandt.
The purity of gold combined with the purity of design and a timeless yet modern vision. I love the idea of ‘zero waste’ design – and gold is something that can be melted and redesigned multiple times as it lasts forever.
I also feel a special connection to every piece of Menē jewelry, as I have navigated every part of the shape and volume of each one – from design to resin prototypes to perfecting the brushed, polished, and tumble bright finishes. Each piece has its own character as well as its own unique volume and movement.
HOW HAS JEWELRY BEEN PART OF YOUR LIFE?
I view jewelry similarly to how I view sculpture – like a living being. Wearing pieces of jewelry brings them to life. You can feel the difference of 24 karat gold on your body; it almost feels like it energizes your mind.
I not only love to wear jewelry; I also enjoy keeping it as a precious objet, cherished in a beautiful box or vitrine. I look at my treasured pieces frequently as they evoke special memories or a sense of endless attachment to the people who gave them to me.
My mother was obsessed with quality - be it luxury designer clothing, jewelry, antique furniture and objects, or English bone porcelain. She designed all her own fine jewelry and had it made by an artisan family jeweler.
As a child, I accompanied her on many occasions and watched and learned as they sketched out designs, modified wax molds, and mounted and polished the pieces. I cherish the jewelry I inherited from my mother’s collection as it holds a great amount of sentimental value.
“With cultural roots from South Korea, though raised in Australia and then France, Gold holds an existential significance for me. Born out of the history of Korean culture, it's celebrated when a baby reaches 100 days of life as the chance of survival was not great in the past. This tradition has lived on throughout the years, and so my parents and relatives gave my children rings of 24 karat gold when they reached that age - a gift of money and a symbol and celebration of the start of their lives.” – Sunjoo Moon
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF JEWELRY?
A Rubies Baby Chivor necklace made by my friend Aurélie Bidermann, which I wear almost all the time. I love its precious simplicity of several tiny rubies moving behind glass within a tiny gold box. I love when jewelry feels like it becomes part of you like a piercing or tattoo.
I have many favourite pieces – some of which I don’t wear often as they are quite fragile, such as my Georgian era earrings and my Napoleonic era ring, which is a brooch I had mounted onto a ring.
What I do wear every day is my wedding ring along with an emerald cut diamond ring I designed with my mother - and, although it's not jewelry, I also wear a boy size gold and stainless steel Rolex watch that was given to me when my son was born. I don't know if they are necessarily my favourite items or that I simply always wear them because they mean so much to me.
WHAT PIECE OF JEWELRY HAVE YOU OWNED THE LONGEST AND WHY HAVE YOU KEPT IT?
A small Fabergé egg with a tiny ruby, which I fell in love with the moment it was given to me along with the radiant red colour of the stone on top of the golden cage-like egg. I will keep it forever. I cherish it both for its historical significance – being one of the iconic eggs crafted for the Russian Imperial family by the great master Peter Carl Fabergé in the 19th century – and for the great memory of the moment it was given to me.
A snake ring my mother designed and gave to me when I was six years old. The ring embodies simple modern design as well as my memories of her – how much she loved jewelry and the details of the design. For this reason, jewelry has always held a lot of sentimental value for me.
WHICH DESIGNERS OR ARTISTS TO YOU MOST ADMIRE AND HOW DO THEY INSPIRE YOU?
Overall, I would say I’m inspired by simplicity and modernity. I draw inspiration from many jewelry designers, including Fabergé, Catherine Noll, Claude Lalanne, Kris Ruhs, as well as furniture designers like Maria Pergay, Pierre Paulin, and Marc Newson. I also adore ancient Greek and roman design, and pay regular visits to the Metropolitan museum to admire their collection.
The list is endless, but to name a few I’d say architects from Mies Van der Roche to John Lautner for their minimalist and modern timeless. Less is always more.
Midcentury Modern designers like Eames, Arne Jacobsen (I’m obsessed with his flatware, which is still very modern today, even though it was designed in the 1950s), as well as George Nelson and Eero Saarinen. I love the proportions and modern aesthetic of their furniture designs.
Among artists, I’m inspired by David Hockney and Cy Twombly, and sculptural pieces by Picasso, Calder, or Louise Bourgeois. Their depth of work is so inspirational to me.
WHAT IS IT LIKE DESIGNING 24 KARAT JEWELRY FOR MENĒ?
Crafting jewelry from 24 karat gold is a challenge as it tends to be quite soft. We used several techniques to sufficiently harden the metal for use as jewelry, and Sunjoo worked with our talented manufacturer to resolve technical challenges through ongoing experimentation and by pushing the natural boundaries of the metal.
We worked closely with our manufacturer to experiment and develop the best possible techniques to achieve our aesthetic through cast molding and using rolled plate gold. The development process was a challenge and mostly manual, and at times wax molds were made by hand to achieve the right proportions – which is something we did for the Wrap Ring. All design processes involve trial and error, which are usually the best ways to overcome any design challenge.