Nicola Bacchilega

Nicola Bacchilega, Founder of DEFAÏENCE

Nicola Bacchilega founded DEFAÏENCE in 2021 to express his creativity and bridge contemporary style and traditional craftsmanship. Drawing inspiration from his past experiences in the fashion industry, with DEFAÏENCE the young entrepreneur offers revolutionary jewels that mix Italian artisanal heritage with cutting-edge modernity, promoting sustainability and synergies from the past and future. Recently, the artist won two awards at Artistar Jewels during Milan Jewelry Week 2023.

How did your passion for the world of jewelry arise? 

My passion for jewelry arose during my academic experience in sculpture. During those years, I attended a course at the Arnaldo Pomodoro foundation in Pietrarubbia, which focused on gold and metal processing. The experience marked the beginning of realizing my ideas, although I have only recently developed a newfound interest in using precious materials. Currently, I model and process them with the same versatility as clay, creating an infinite number of constantly shifting shapes, which is a practice that I love.

What was your academic background? 

My academic path began in my hometown, Faenza, which is globally known for its famous ceramics production. After graduating high school in Faenza, I initially studied in Turin, following a path in sculpture at the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts, and then moving to London. I felt the need for new experiences to broaden my vision and experiment with an international training path. Studying at the London College of Contemporary Arts marked a significant chapter in my journey. I immediately had the chance to work with important brands in London, Milan, and Los Angeles. Among the most rewarding experiences is the privilege of having worked at Atelier Versace, overseeing the clothes for prestigious international celebrities. This experience left an indelible mark on my career. Regardless of my previous experiences in fashion, I felt an unstoppable drive to share my story and express my authenticity through art. DEFAÏENCE arose from this profound need, becoming a project that stretches far beyond producing jewelry and fashion collections and becoming the search for my identity and the vehicle to express my artistic essence.

DÁIMŌN COLLAR. Photo credits: Matei Octav – Fattura Studio

How have fashion and ceramic sculpture influenced your role as a jewelry designer?

As a designer, I consider fundamental the capability of sharing my vision through shapes and materials, whether with jewelry, clothes, or ceramic sculptures. The experience in London was a crucial turning point, as it allowed me greater freedom of expression and significant development on a stylistic and professional level. During this time, I had the opportunity to refine my aesthetic and perfect my taste, significantly contributing to my artistic development. The idea of adorning and highlighting the shape of the body plays a fundamental role for me, whether I am designing a dress or creating a jewel. The creative process, unchanged for me across the different art forms, is articulated in the act of dressing the body with organic forms in perpetual movement. These forms, representing my primary inspirations, serve as limitless catalysts, which allow me to manipulate pieces without boundaries and explore the infinite possibilities that art can offer.

What do you wish to convey through your jewelry?

 Whenever I create a jewel, I focus on who will wear it, as I want them to feel strong and invincible. The idea of conveying courage and power through my jewels excites me. Already in Ancient Greece, gold was strongly associated with the divine world, and it became one of the main concepts when creating my jewels, which ultimately have the task of elevating and “divinizing” the wearer. Through the use of gold, DEFAÏENCE jewels become an exciting journey into the union between art and meaning, experiences that connect the wearer to an ancient and powerful energy.

FAÏENCE CREOLE. Photo credits: Matei Octav – Fattura Studio

DEFAÏENCE is an avant-garde hybrid that mixes tradition and contemporary style: where does your creative process come from?

From my point of view, the creative process begins with the material, particularly clay. To me, it symbolizes strength, resilience, and change, allowing me to create with a sense of freedom. My work holds the tradition of Faenza ceramics at its core but is also characterized by the modernity of the Faenza artists of the 1960s, including Alfonso Leoni, Carlo Zauli, and Ivo Sassi. These artists, as an act of rebellion, transformed ceramics through destruction, burning, and deformation, giving life to a genuine movement and creating extraordinary works of modern ceramic art. The name DEFAÏENCE is made up of two keywords: “faience,” which refers to the material and the link with tradition, and “defiance,” which in English means challenging and provocation. In this context, everything comes to life and materializes, free from any prejudice, guided by beauty and freedom of expression.

Is there a jewel you are particularly fond of? 

The ANQĀ ring, made of 18k gold and pavé diamonds, is a jewel that I can’t stop wearing, as well as giving me the honor of winning two awards at Artistar Jewels during Milan Jewelry Week 2023. This precious jewel, to me, represents rebirth and recounts my experience during the flood that hit Emilia-Romagna and, consequently, my city, Faenza. In Arab mythology, Anqā symbolizes the phoenix that manifests itself during natural disasters. Clay, my main source of inspiration, destroys and creates, giving life to the beauty held in the ANQĀ ring. This work symbolizes strength and renewal and is driven by the essence of a unique journey among challenges and resilience.

ANQĀ RING. Photo credits: Matei Octav – Fattura Studio

What are the peculiarities of your jewels?

DEFAÏENCE jewels embody a union between tradition and innovation. The MAJOLICA BRACELET and FAÏENCE CREOLE, for example, stand out for their ultra-lightweight engineering materials and 3D printing technology, while other jewelry is especially light because of more traditional metals. What makes my jewels unique is their ability to be “opulent” and eccentric in shape while maintaining a light weight, which is a fundamental detail to me. The setting of diamonds follows an innovative approach, taking place on rounded and non-linear shapes. Such a choice infers a touch of originality, also creating a game of lights and shadows, which infuse movement into the object. Experimentation and the use of cutting-edge technologies play a crucial role in my work since my mission is intrinsically linked to a constant search for revolution in the jewelry field.

How much does sustainability affect the design of your collections?

I believe that it is very important to produce timeless jewelry that is deeply anchored to Italian territory while maintaining production locally as much as possible. Constantly researching innovative, cutting-edge, and sustainable materials is the main mission of the brand, making sure to respect our environment and society.

How will DEFAÏENCE develop in the future?

In the future, the brand will include a new line of clothing and accessories, which will be launched together with the ANQĀ collection in 2024, inspired by the phoenix and rebirth. Furthermore, the entire DEFAÏENCE jewelry collection, made in gold and diamonds, will be presented next year with the clothing line, which will be available on our website and in some art galleries. The brand’s goal is to create not only a style but an authentic movement that manifests itself through shapes and emotions that embody the essence of my creative vision.

MAJOLICA BRACELET. Photo credits: Matei Octav – Fattura Studio