Jewellery designer

Jewellery designer

ALEX SIMONDETTI AND PIPPA SMALL.
Artistic sisters, one an eclectic jewellery designer, the other a successful painter, work together to achieve their creative vision. Interviews by Ellie Pithers.
Alex, 46, on Pippa, 44
We first collaborated in 2002 when Pippa began working with Tom Ford at Gucci; I drew all her designs. I really adore Pippa’s jewellery – I wear even more than her – and I design the interiors of her stores. The colour scheme in the new Ladbroke Grove shop was inspired by an exhibition of Jodhpur court artists we saw at the British Museum, full of these wonderful pinks and greys. I always feel very honoured when she lets me choose fabrics for a shop because she totally trusts me. We have similar tastes, although I prefer things less crowded.
We are two of eight siblings; I have a twin brother. And both Pippa and I now have our own sets of twins. I have 12-year-old boys, and Pippa gave birth last year. We both gave birth in the year of the dragon, which is auspiciously wonderful. We grew up in an isolated house in Wiltshire. Our mother was a painter and she was always encouraging me to paint murals in the house. Pippa was absorbed in ponies, books and stones – she collected bags full of stones which had to go everywhere with us. She was very shy, whereas I was desperate for any possibility of a social life, so I moved to London when I was 16 to study photography at the London College of Printing. I eventually dropped out of my course and ran away to paint murals in Rome. By 1993 I was painting murals for a sheikh on the islands off Abu Dhabi; meanwhile Pippa was working with grassroots NGOs on human rights issues in south-east Asia. Pippa has always been more of an intellectual – I am more practical – but there is a wonderful sharing of two worlds.

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