Drawing from George Orwell’s famous political satire is jewellery designer Poonam Soni’s new collection, Animal Farm Revived. However, unlike the greedy, unhappy, and revolting creatures from the novel, Soni’s creatures are living a happy, engaged life and represent a desire for a Utopian world.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” this famous quote from George Orwell’s 1945 novella, Animal Farm is an astute observation about the nature of human beings and the state of society. In midst of a pandemic, the analogies of this poignant novel about exploitative behaviour, political propaganda and vulnerabilities of the masses have never rung truer.
Reversing the rules of this dystopian world is jewellery designer Poonam Soni’s latest collection, Animal Farm Revived. Unlike Orwell’s animals, these jewelled creatures are living a happy, liberated and abundant lifestyle. Their zest for life is visible through unique hobbies and flamboyant manner of dressing. Each quirky animal is dressed flamboyantly as humans in tuxedos, hats, buckled belts, designer backpacks and are depicted playing golf, riding a tricycle. The idea of animals dressed as humans comes from the later part of Orwell’s novel. While Orwell’s animals are rebelling against autocracy, Soni’s are living a life of freedom, recreation and leisure that we all desire.
Known for her use of art, architecture and mixed metal elements in her jewellery, Poonam Soni has been creating unique one-of-a-kind pieces since 1989. This collection, however, sees her coming together with her artist daughter Kriti Soni, just in time for Mother’s Day. Crafted in silver with mixed metals, fine enamel work and semi-precious stones, the jewellery pieces are designed with flexible, free-moving parts for everyday wear. We talk to the Mumbai-based designer about the collection that took over 2 years to come together.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the Animal Farm Revived collection?
All my collections have been inspirations from art, architecture or history. They have been based on artistic aesthetics in keeping with the moods of the time. Animal Farm is a very famous satire of George Orwell which I had read in college. It’s based on bondage, inequality, suppression and revolt. Very much in keeping with our challenging times today, I wanted to create a farm of beauty, equality, hope and happiness. I hit upon the idea of animals enjoying luxury, hobbies and happiness. So, the mood and the vibe is happy and the colours used are vibrant.
Do you feel the collection is a comment on what is going on in the country?
Yes, my collection is an indication and a deep desire for change from this corrupt, happy and divided world.
What do the various animals on the farm represent?
As I mentioned above, inspired by the differences and unhappiness amongst the animals who rebel against autocracy in Orwell’s bestselling time, the animal pendants in our collection are happy, liberated from submission, and giving a strong message of hope and equality. Their zest for life is visible in each piece. Each quirky animal is dressed flamboyantly as humans in tuxedos, hats, buckled belts, designer backpacks – and depicted playing golf, riding a tricycle, etc – generally living a life of freedom, recreation and leisure.
Can you tell us more about the gemstones and materials used for the collection?
Each piece of luxury adorning the animals had to be very real in a minuscule space like the LVMH bag pack, the iPhone, vintage hat or the Derby shoes. To make the pieces unique we used textures in colours, stones, enamel washes, carved pipes, European crystals, precious rubies, leather cords and cloth bows.
What for you is a standout piece for you from the collection?
I love every piece I have designed. Each one is getting better. The best is yet to come but I have a soft corner for Napoleon the pig on the tricycle. It was my first piece and my Napoleon is so happily cycling in his enamelled shorts, a far cry from the dictator in George Orwell’s book.
All images: Courtesy Poonam Soni