Color, Clarity, Cut
Cora Sheibani understands well the importance of context. For her first formal presentation, in the fall of 2011, the Swiss-born, London-based jewelry designer commissioned a friend, the fashion designer Edeline Lee, to create a small collection of dresses that would serve as the exceptionally painstaking backdrop for Sheibani’s silver cloud-shaped brooches raining diamond baguettes and her gold cloud and lightning-bolt pins. “The expense, the time…I had no idea what I was getting into,” Sheibani recalls with a laugh, practically admitting that she could have just plunked her jewels down on a velvet-lined tray. For subsequent collections, she has contented herself with the slightly less labor-intensive task of publishing small books, like the guide to growing succulents that accompanies Cactaceae, her new series of gold, nephrite, and tsavorite rings, necklaces, and bracelets inspired by her mother’s cactus garden on the Aeolian Island of Filicudi. Sheibani says she gets all her ideas from her surroundings—which are undeniably beautiful. “Color and shape—that’s what I’m drawn to,” she says. “My parents had Memphis furniture, so I’m not afraid of color. When I go into a shop and I see something orange, I go right over to it.”
The Art of Living
Sheibani, 33, who is based in London, grew up in Zurich; her father is the legendary art dealer Bruno Bischofberger, and artists were always around. Regular dinner guests included Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Ettore Sottsass, who contributed an essay to the book that went with Sheibani’s playfully architectural Valence collection. The family would vacation in the Swiss Alps with the Francesco Clemente and Julian Schnabel clans, both of which had children around the same age as Sheibani and her three siblings. “When I was a kid, I thought a holiday meant going to see museums and churches,” Sheibani says. “Once in a while my mother would persuade my father to go to the beach, but he’s someone who prefers to be doing something. I’m the same way.”
Like her childhood home, the mid-Victorian country pile in Gloucestershire where Sheibani, her husband, and their two children spend their weekends is full of contemporary art. Still, it is informal and child-friendly, at once vivid and serene. In the living room, the giant Pierre Paulin sofa is the site of family jam sessions (with her husband on bass guitar, her daughter on flute, and her son on clarinet). Unfinished Lego sculptures are scattered on Marc Newson chairs. Elsewhere, Murano-glass lamps by Sheibani’s friend the designer Paola Petrobelli cast a warm glow, and the soothing blue and green walls are punctuated with crayon-bright abstract paintings by the American artist Greg Bogin.
The Green Zone
Given Sheibani’s adventurous palette, the grounds surrounding the house are unexpectedly monochrome. Even as they are cultivated to always have something in bloom, traditional English gardens, she says, look a bit “blah” much of the time. So instead of planting the expected assortment of hollyhocks and bluebells, she enlisted the famed Spanish landscape architect Fernando Caruncho to design a minimalist oasis—a surprising patch of Zen-like greenery in the otherwise definitively British Cotswolds. Boxwoods and lavender predominate, and tidy paths are laid out in precise rows. “It’s classical and modern, which is what my jewelry’s like, too,” Sheibani says. “There are a lot of parallels between gardens and jewelry. Gardens become mature after 70 years. Jewelry is something you hope you’ll always have. You want them both to stand the test of time.”