IN Interviews : Brianna Fano

There are many designers, (Kelsey Quan, Miansai, and Kirsty Ward) dabbling in similar types of playful, modern, decorative rope, lucite, and metal jewelry. Brianna Fano’s distinctive and noticeable details come from her exploration of shapes and transparency. Her icy translucent, cool blues, and solid lucite shapes attached to military/climbing rope with silver and gold trims really take your mind on a little journey. Each necklace, ring, and bracelet feels like found objects with a rich history. The beautifully diverse selections makes it hard to love just one item. The most fascinating is the uncertainty of where Fano’s lucite exploration will lead her next. Whether it be shoes, clothing, headwear, or eyewear, Fano’s options are endless. With her resourcefulness and knowledge of clothing construction and jewelry (and most importantly time), anything is achievable. See full interview below.

Full name:
Brianna Fano

Educational background:
Parsons the New School for Design

Where are you from?
Miami, Florida. My father is Cuban and my mother is American.

Who/what has been the most influential to your design career?
My family and my education has definitely influenced me the most. Specifically, my brother, he studied architecture and he has really become an important part of my design career. He has an amazing, crisp, and refined taste in design that I admire and try to bring into my aesthetic more and more every season.

How do you describe your design aesthetic?
I try to juxtapose the feeling and nostalgia of vintage with a touch of modern. I like to see the past and the future in my pieces, something truly timeless.

What are you Infashuated about? Any sources of inspiration? (i.e. magazines, artist, exhibitions, exciting restaurants, etc.):
Architecture is always one of the first places I look to for inspiration. For the past year or so, I have looked to Santiago Calatrava. Living near the Financial District in NYC, I am ecstatic to have one of his designs right in my backyard at the World Trade Center. In a much more specific sort of way, for fall, I have been enamored by Crystal Caves. I just envision my muse living in this luxurious cave just because she wants to make jewelry out of the crystals she finds.

How did the idea of working with lucite come about? Has this interest caused you to gravitate towards a particular color palette, time periods, or design aesthetic?
A lucite fabricator presented the idea to me. He thought it would be fun to collaborate on a project. We both loved the result and took it to the next level. I don’t think it has caused me to gravitate to a different aesthetic; I feel at home with this material and its a perfect vehicle for achieving a modern feeling. But I do plan to explore all sorts of materials so I won’t ever feel limited to any certain aesthetic.

How much emphasis do you put on your planning process? Are there tons of sketching, experimentation, or just bizarre magic that takes place?
A little bit from column A, B, and C. I usually wake up in the middle of the night with this surge of energy and ideas [that] I need to get on paper whether its an inspiration or a piece that I want to make. I always end up sketching like a mad woman in fear that I may forget the idea in the morning. When I start sketching I begin thinking about how the lucite should be shaped and at the same time I am thinking alot about the materials in general, and how they are going to come together within my inspiration or concept. Once I receive the lucite, perhaps a bit of magic occurs. In reality, I just start throwing everything together and hope for the best!

Tell us about your fascination with the children’s book, Animalia.
Somehow the book, “Animalia,” caught my eye. The alliterations were fantastic and the illustrations were even more hilariously, fantastic! I must have looked through this book 50 times and caught new little animals doing silly things every time. Somewhere along my fascination I started really looking at the textures of the skins on the animals and how they were illustrated. I narrowed down my obsession to one thing…the simple shapes within a very complex composition. The shapes that were illustrated in fish, specifically in the scales, the shapes within the wing of a butterfly, the very geometric shapes within snakeskin…basically these simple shapes that create much larger compositions. I wanted to bring out those foundational shapes and give them the credit they deserved. Coming from a family of people who like building things…the foundation of what things are composed of have always been quite inspiring to me, without them, nothing would really exist.

Please tell me about your experience with designing ready-to-wear at Parsons. Has this experience contributed to your jewelry work at all?

Absolutely! Parsons was the foundation for everything I stand on. It taught me how to dig deeper and find a meaning behind my designs. Things can be just pretty but if there is meaning behind what you are designing it can reach so much farther. I had two incredible teachers for my senior thesis classes, and they have been two of the most influential people in my design life. My senior thesis was a study on disintegration, time, and the beauties you can find in age. In exploring this concept in my ready-to-wear collection, I learned how to bring life to just an idea or concept—same goes for my jewelry.

Do you see growth potential for clothing or even other subdivisions of fashion?
Absolutely. I hope Brianna Fano will become a brand where all sorts of products will be offered to the public.

What would you say is your biggest challenge as a designer?
There are always so many challenges, especially as a designer. I’d say the biggest challenge for me [is] having this unlimited amount of design options. How do I know if I’ve made the right design decision? And how many times should I edit this design until it is “perfect?” Will it ever really be perfect? There are just so many design questions one can ask themselves.

Any collaborations, shows, or releases to look forward to?
At the end of March/beginning of April, I will be releasing my fall collection and I couldn’t be more excited about it!”


Special thanks to Briana Fano. Interview by James Buford, and edited by Alicia Fairclough for Infashuated © 2012. No part of this content or information included therein may be reproduced, republished or redistributed without the prior consent of Infashuated.

James Buford

Co-owner, writer, and designer for Infashuated and based in Portland, OR. Follow him on instagram.