The Spark that Lit FAÉM

Florent Aziosmanoff and Elina Markaryan

Back in June 2014 I was honored to help organize and take part in a press conference announcing the launch of a new Living Art initiative in Gyumri, Armenia. The press conference was headed by Florent Aziosmanoff who, besides being the cofounder of FAÉM, is an author, researcher, and producer of Living Art and Living Art Labs. He specializes in social psychology in cognitive Ergonomics. He has also worked as a video director for several years. Since 1988 he has been dedicated to the creation of management of Art3000 and Nov’Art magazine. He has also organized several events, exhibitions and symposiums, including the General Assembly on Interactive Writing. Florent also developed alongside Jean-Claude Heudin the Living Mona Lisa, a Living Art concept where a portrait of Mona Lisa worn around the neck, hung from a wall or situated on a tabletop responds with various facial expressions in reaction to observer’s mood.

I remember seeing over 100 intelligent professionals in attendance. It was an exciting time to be involved with Luys Foundation, where I served as Liaison for Government and International Organizations at the time. Luys invited Florent to Armenia on a fact-finding mission of sorts— he wanted to understand the creative potential of the Armenian people, tracing the history of Gyumri as a city of Art. Meeting Florent and Gyumri’s young artisans and developers was a mind-blowing, life-changing experience for me. And Living Art has certainly generated buzz in Gyumri, where the boundless potential hadn’t really been tapped—not until recently. Just being there with all that talent around me sparked my imagination, and before long I began thinking about how I could offer a Living Art luxury jewelry product produced in Gyumri to the global market. That was when, together with Florent, I decided to launch FAÉM.

FAÉM emerged from that vision of transforming jewelry into an interactive blend of art and technology pioneered by Florent, who now designs, curates, and produces unique works through Living Art labs and FAÉM Living Jewelry.

FAÉM’s Living Jewelry is simply amazing. Artists unite art forms with their top-notch, unrivaled skills, including jewelry making, conceptual design and microelectronics. The pieces produced by FAÉM master jewelers react to the moods and feelings of both the person wearing them and those approaching. So the jewelry creates a unique, highly personal experience. We create a language for luxury experiences.

Florent had been meeting with Gyumri-based creative technologists who specialized in jewelry making, clothing design, carpet making, painting, ceramics, illustration, graphic art, web development, programming, engineering, and robotics. He wanted to get a sense of Gyumri’s vital needs and the possibility for getting Living Art projects off the ground with the resources available. He was also recruiting talented artists willing to think out of the box to participate in a master class he wanted to hold on Living Art.

Florent is an amazing, charismatic person who knows exactly what he wants and how to realize his vision. He ended up selecting 15 talented individuals—5 jewelers, 5 programmers and 5 high-tech specialists for the master class, which was held July 11-20, 2014. He asked visual artist Paul Olory to introduce the concept of Living Jewelry, a new field of decorative applied arts that combines jewelry making and design with microelectronics and high technologies. One artist was paired up with one technologist over the course of the week to create a prototype of Living Jewelry using digital equipment brought from France. And as a result five Living Jewelry prototypes were developed in only 10 days.

But why did we choose Gyumri to hold a master class about Living Jewelry, and why manufacture it there? I chose Gyumri as the manufacturing and innovation center of Living Jewelry for many different reasons. First of all, it’s an artistic and historically rich city. Many renowned artisans, actors, and experts in the IT sector are from or are based in Gyumri. The city has traditionally been well known for creating high-end jewelry back in the 19th century, when it was called Alexandropol. My goal is to develop the Living Jewelry industry and, simultaneously Gyumri’s economy from that potential the area has had for centuries to foster the city’s revival.

Living Jewelry is a piece of contemporary art that tells a story, and it really has the potential to turn Gyumri’s economy around. The city was dealt several blows with the devastating 1988 earthquake. But now, there’s no looking back. Gyumri can reinvent itself as the new economy capital of the South Caucasus, and I’m proud to say that FAÉM is spearheading that initiative.