Miami-based Argentinian-born artist Lucilla Garcia De Onrubia is the creative mind behind Deon Rubi, a collection of beautifully re-purposed recycled materials which transcend the category of jewelry, becoming wearable pieces of art. De Onrubia began to crafting her one of a kind pieces in 2007, turning to readily available materials and various found pieces of ‘trash’ into art with the purpose of challenging the way it’s wearers relate to the earth and its resources, an idea which the lines puts at the core of its design ethics. As a brand, Deon Rubi, promises to use “recycled, upcycled, vintage materials whenever possible.” Even it’s name, a play on the creator’s own last name, takes this ideology to heart.
The unique and eclectic designs of the Deon Rubi line, draws its inspiration from various sources, including the bold jewelry designs of Art Smith, the wispy sculptures of Alexander Calder, the clean lines of the modern furniture pieces created by Eileen Gray, and the indigenous body art of the Omo Valley tribes of Ethiopia.
During this past week’s Art Basel, visitors who made their way to the Perez Art Museum for it’s inaugural opening week had the chance to see the latest Deon Rubi collection in person, as these beautiful pieces of locally-produced art were included in the museum’s inaugural gift shop collection. With so much buzz surrounding the unique and eco-friendly collection, we sat down with the mastermind behind the works to discuss Deon Rubi, how she overcomes creative challenges and how in Miami, success is all about the connections you make.
MA: Did you study sculpture? If so where? If not, where did you learn your skill set?
DR: I apprenticed under Jacinto, an old-school jeweler, he is in his seventies. I still work in his studio in the Downtown Miami Jewelry District across the street from the famous Seybold building, but I studied film, production design.
MA: What made you first decide to use ‘trash’ and other recyclables to make your jewelry?
DR: Trash and waste material were, and still are, the most accessible kinds of materials, I have an eye for seeing their potential and enjoy proving it.
MA: Give me some background on Deon Rubi. Where does the name come from? Does it mean something special to you? Is it a real person?
DR: Deon Rubi is a play on words of my last name, its become an alter ego from which I work.
MA: What is your creative process like? Do you gather your materials and let them decide what they will become? Or are the materials you source based on a final idea?
DR: First the materials decided for themselves. As I acquire more technical knowledge, it becomes a conversation where both I and the materials dictate. Its a give-give situation.
MA: Your work was included in PAMM’s inaugural gift shop collection. How did this relationship with the Museum come to be?
DR: Through exposure and connections. Its not necessarily who you know but who knows you. Miami is still a small town in the sense that there’s probably three degrees of separation. Someone liked my work and connected me with the right person. I was at MAM, now we’re moving to PAMM.
MA: What is the biggest challenge you have face during the creative process?
DR: Mixing different materials in one piece is always a challenge. Because each material has its particular quality, you have to plan each step of the way to ensure you can make it to the end, to get a good finished piece. I really enjoy this part of the process.
MA: What comes next? What is in the works once the PAMM is open? Will there be other shops that interested buyers can find your work?
DR:Definitely other shops to be announced soon, and work is always available at deonrubi.com.