Exuberant, colorful, and whimsical, Israeli designer Orna Lalo has turned a tiny cottage industry of limited edition jewelry into a successful international company with sales all over the world.
Just imagine a treasure chest overflowing with glistening baubles, or a candy store inviting you to scoop up its contents in eager handfuls and enjoy, and you get a notion of Israeli designer Orna Lalo’s exuberance.
Founded first as a small cottage industry, Lalo has now expanded her jewelry production into an international company. Her creations make boldly colorful statements that often have whimsical appeal. They can be dramatic without overpowering the viewer. As the jewelry is assembled by hand, collections are produced in limited editions, not en masse.
Lalo’s background was in fine arts and fashion design. She studied first at Tel Aviv’s Kalisher School of Art, then enrolled in Shenkar College to study fashion. Because she could not find the right buttons, accessories, and costume jewelry needed for her creations, she resorted to designing her own. When these novelty items caught on swiftly among the students the resultant stir helped make her reputation.
The jewels are formed from an inexpensive, versatile material – synthetic resin – a denser, more natural looking substance than plastic. As powdery fillers are added to it, the material assumes a variety of textures. It might sparkle like glass or be as smooth and opaque as a pebble on the beach. Though basic molds are first used to configure the molten resin into assorted shapes and sizes, the filing, perforations, coloration, and lacquer applications are done by hand. Besides the resin, Lalo uses lots of beads, including Swarovsky crystals, and silver-plated and leather chains for hanging pendants.
Design and strategic planning emanate from Lalo’s studio and central office at Moshav Meishar near Ashdod. Jewelry production takes place at a small factory in Bulgaria, although some artisans operate from home under her tutelage. The factory staff numbers around 60 people, plus eight graphic artists, designers and a photographer. As part of Lalo’s family originates from Bulgaria, she is comfortable working there, expressing satisfaction at the high standard of workmanship.
The Lalo team produces a number of collections a year, many of which are featured at trade shows and exhibitions. Collections center on different themes. Among their imaginative titles are: Carousel, Lost and Found, Wheel of Destiny, Ballroom and Bird on a Wire.
Though designs tend to take their initial shape on the computer screen, Lalo often sketches or models her product until it achieves the desired configuration. “Though the original design does not always resemble the end product, the same line of thought prevails,” she tells ISRAEL21c.
Design is an integral part of her life. she says.
Perhaps because of the florist’s store her mom ran for many years, Lalo is passionate about flowers. In designs such as flower pendants she aims to capture the immediacy, the fleeting moment, when the flower is in full bloom and before it fades. Her company logo is a flower with seven petals.
Color is another passion. “I have an absolute response to color, like perfect pitch in a musician,” she explains. When she dares to dabble with unconventional color combinations in her work, as she often does, she is right on target. Besides the jewelry, Lalo is involved with ornamental home accessories.
“In the future we want to continue enlarging our product line and to focus even more on the topic of decorative design,” she tells ISRAEL21c.
Nowadays the company exports mainly to the US, Japan, Australia, Germany, Sweden, France and the CIS. Israel, headquarters of Orna Lalo Ltd., has two flagship stores in Tel Aviv and Eilat that display her entire collections.
No doubt future designs will also be imaginative, cheerful and designed with a smile.