Master designer Sylvia Gottwald creates beautiful pieces of uncommon jewellery – out of shells, leather, steel and rubber.
Dressed in a simple Issey Miyake black ensemble over a kimono-inspired Thai silk top, Sylvia Gottwald
is the epitome of simple elegance.Statuesque and with a strong presence, she
has the air of sophistication that goes with being a well-travelled intellectual.She
outfit with a stunning piece of jewellery made of steel mesh wound scarf-like around her
neck and held in place by a huge mother-of-pearl pendant, matched by an equally huge pair of earrings and a ring.The set was part of a dazzling collection of mother of pearl and pearl accessories especially designed by Gottwald
, and flown in for a charity sale held recently at the British Ambassador's residence for a select group.Through her
mastery of design, Gottwald
successfully melds leather, rubber and steel.Her
works are a sensation in Paris, where she
has lived for the past five years."Everybody wants my jewellery," she
shell collection, gathered during her
travels, consists of species that are plentiful.Gottwald
is not entirely opposed to exploitation, but says there must be a balance between the need for natural resources to regenerate and for people to make money.
...An American, Gottwald studied city planning at MIT and holds a master's degree in architecture from Harvard University.She also holds a BA in Art History from the University of Western Ontario, Canada and the Universite Catholica di Milano, Rome.She
commutes to Washington, DC where she
is helping design the Moroccan Embassy
.From 1992 to 2000, while in Prague and Paris, Gottwald
participated in projects related to cultural heritage conservation, the rejuvenation of historic cities and sustainable tourist development.As a consultant for the World Bank, she has helped promote and fund the preservation of cultural heritage through the revitalisation of abandoned or neglected buildings and the protection of endangered marine life.
"I think it is very important to preserve the past because once [heritage buildings] are gone you can never rebuild them.But, the problem is to build well and to get the funding for it because, for most governments, this is not a priority," she
says.In the field of architecture, Gottwald was director of design and planning for the Ronald Reagan International Trade Centre, the largest federal building in the US.She was also a senior adviser to the Presidential Commission that oversaw the development of the US$900 million (Bt38.79 billion) Federal Triangle Complex in Washington, DC in cooperation with the architectural firm of Pei Cobb Freed Associates headed by noted architect IM Pei.
Gottwald's first visit to Thailand was in the late '70s, as a consultant to the World Bank
."I fell in love with Thailand – the monuments, the crafts, the people."She
also observes the development in Thailand since and laments the lack of city planning in Bangkok."I don't understand its planning concept.It may have been done incrementally.You sort of lose sight, as they say, of ‘the forest for the trees'."Gottwald feels that the market economy is too much of a driving force here."Developers find a piece of land and they don't care whether their ideas tie in with the city or not.Their motivation is profit."
As the principal urban designer in charge of the plan, Gottwald
proposed solutions to arrest further decay of the Silver Springs downtown area.Citizens' groups, the business community and the government all had a role to play."The government and city planners should offer incentives to stimulate developers to build in a way that help develop the city's amenities at the same time.It's not an easy job, because who has the money has the power.It is hard to influence them, but it is possible," she
says."Give them a bit of extra space, ask them, for instance, whether the plaza in front of their building is something that the citizens could use, maybe as a park, or a gallery.So you slowly build up a city centre with amenities.
...Cora Sukhyanga The Nation -------------------- On Women Architects Sylvia Gottwald was one of the very few women architects to graduate from Harvard University during the 1970s.
A man will still discriminate if given a chance. (laughs) And Americans are no better, maybe just slightly better because it is politically incorrect to discriminate on the basis of sex," says Gottwald