We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Antonio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
You could say I was born to be an artisan. I was born and raised in London to Greek parents and come from a long line of leather artisans. Originally, I was actually drawn to fashion because I loved the theatrical experience and almost art exhibition-like sensibility of couture shows. I graduated with honors at University of the Arts London, specializing in Fashion, Textiles and Surface Design. However, after relocating to New York City, I made the switch to interior design. Drawing on my family legacy working with leather, and my process-based experimental education, I began to focus on custom leather furniture and decorative hardware design. I founded Bespoke Leather Works Ltd. in 2005, which evolved into my current eponymous design firm, Christina Z Antonio.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I consider myself an Artist and Designer. I trained as a craftsman in multiple mediums, creating artistic furniture, lighting, and objets d’art using diverse precious metals and materials including leather, gemstones, parchment, wood, metal, and blown glass. I bring a variety of techniques and intricate detail to my work by layering, carving and painting surfaces, The function of each piece is equally meaningful as I integrate internal mechanisms into my works that I engineer myself. I also abide by traditional principles of craftsmanship by seeking out only the finest imported materials from Italy, France, and Belgium. I strive to create the heirlooms of tomorrow: sturdy, sophisticated, sustainable pieces, handcrafted to last for generations to come. I think furniture should be seductive in its form, and I try to achieve that by using exotic materials and putting hours of hand-labor into each piece. Helios Collection is my first foray into lighting. I was inspired by the interaction of science, technology, and design, and the collection was formed with the idea that light promotes healing and wellness. The chairs are engineered with a blown-glass backing and filled with helium gas, which produces a soft neon glow. I like to play with the idea of soft or fragile materials used in a structural way. The lighting features hand blown glass spheres that produce a bioluminescent effect, evoking the hypnotic essence of jellyfish illuminating the ocean. While investigating electron wave functions in a hydrogen atom, I created a body of glasswork that brings to life the alluring forms found in quantum mechanics illustrations. I remember drawing this pattern out with chalk on the floor of the glass hot shop. Finally seeing the work completed, assembled and illuminated was euphoric. The experience itself was meditative and transcendent.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I credit my love of superior tailoring and artisanal craftsmanship to my father and grandfather’s legacy. My grandfather was a successful bespoke shoemaker from Greece, and my father was a leather artisan, trained at Cordwainers College, the leading institution for shoemakers specializing in the crafting of fine luxury leather shoes. Both my sisters are artists, so watching their process while growing up was very inspiring for me. Their legacy of experience, coupled with my sensibility for beauty and modern luxury, is evident throughout my portfolio.