Born in Columbia with a rich multicultural heritage, Juliana Arbeláez is a designer and maker of watches. She heads SUISSEMECANICA as co-founder and Art Director.
1. Please describe your childhood briefly?
My childhood was happy, surrounded by my family, greatly valued and supported by my parents. Being my parents of Spanish, Irish and Amerindian origin, I was educated with a philosophy open to the world and to different cultures, taking into account my interests: arts and sciences. Bogota, the city where I was born, a great Latin American capital, full of contrasts, festive and hard-working spirit, complement my optimistic and warrior character.
Educated in a school exclusively for girls, away from the "noisy" children, my schoolmates always saw me as someone different. This was not easy to cope with at times, in a period when you want to blend in with your surroundings. Always the youngest of the group of classes and additionally, with the great disadvantage (advantage when I became an adult) of appearing much less than my age. While my schoolmates attended parties and had an active adolescent life, I entertained myself by drawing, creating, building, making models or doing DIY with my dad ...
When I reached my 16 years, looking only about 13 or 14, I entered University.
I did not realize in what moment I passed directly from my childhood to my adult life, a fabulous contrast!
2. As a child did you have any ambition?
For as long as I can remember, my curiosity and my imagination pushed me to discover and create. I do not conceive my life without creation. When I was a girl, I loved drawing, cutting, modeling, imagining. My ambition was to be an architect, to create works that would remain in the face of the world for posterity. At the same time the universe and its mysteries always fascinated me, my imagination led me to find the answers that made me happy ... Today I still think about these mysteries with the ambition to get to understand at least in a very small way, the origin of humanity and the universe.
3. What is your first significant memory as a child?
My father was always interested in letting us discover his love for nature and wildlife, for him it was important to make my older brother and I be in touch with nature. The privilege of having spent my childhood in a country like Colombia is unique from this point of view. During the holidays, he took us, along with my mother, to remote places in the middle of nature, near fast flowing rivers and under starry skies, away from the noise of big cities. At that time, it was only a question of setting up the tent in the place meticulously chosen by my father, without having to obtain special permits. The memories I have of those trips are wonderful. Contemplating for hours the starry sky in a place like the eastern plains in Colombia, left indelible marks in my memory.
4. Have you ever had another profession?
No, my career has always been design. There has indeed been an evolution throughout my life, thanks to which I have been able to experience creation in its different manifestations. Whether designing furniture, making special effects and models for advertising films, the design of perfume bottles, the design of spaces, graphic design, or my last and final stage, the creation of watchmaking pieces ... I forgot my short step as artist painter during the first stage of my life in Paris (...) ... However, the common denominator has always been the same, creation.
5. What made you decide to go in the direction you are currently in?
A trip to Switzerland, where I discovered the world of Haute Horlogerie for the first time. I remember walking through the Vallée de Joux, at that time I fell in love with this exceptional career. Crossing this road was my destiny; no other career choice could better satisfy my intellectual curiosity and the pleasure of creating.
6. What is the worst job you had to do?
I cannot talk about the "worst job", since everyone had a direct relationship with creation. Since my graduation as a designer, I always took the option of working independently, founding my own company. In it, I made a great diversity of projects. I had certainty, more or less interesting projects, or more or less difficult clients, but my motivation was always to carry out each of these projects in the best way, exploiting my potential to the fullest, which always generates a great dose of satisfaction. Even my first job when I was 14, packing Christmas presents (my way) for a children's store, it was extremely entertaining.
7. What was the most difficult moment in your career?
The mourning, I do not mean the death of a loved one but having to accept a situation in life that I cannot change, and that affects the future and the happiness of the beings that I love the most in the world, my daughters.
8. Who has had the most influence on you? What are your best inspirations?
My parents. Today, I am more than ever convinced that unconditional love, support, the ability to understand myself as a unique being with defects and qualities, and above all the construction of my self-esteem, determined the woman I am now. My father was the key to determining me as a woman who deserves respect and who is capable of doing what she sets out to do. My mother, I inculcate the importance and value of being a mother, the most important role in my life today.
9. What are you most proud of?
Of my two daughters, without a doubt, and of what I have built in my life at a professional level. Of SUISSEMECANICA evidently, fruit of my passion, and my love for the Haute Horlogerie.
10. What advice would you give to a 20 something thinking about taking a path similar to yours?
Do not be afraid to live, do not settle for what life put on your feet, go out and look for your route, identifying your talents, your potential. Choose your work to make yourself happy and those who are going to take advantage of the fruit of your labour. If you chose design and creation, you know the greatest diversity of people, different languages, different cultures. This will give you an understanding of what the human being is, his potential and his needs. This will allow you to create in a universal way.
11. Name three things on your bucket list
- See my grandchildren being born and growing, at least until they can call me grandmother ... My daughters are only 10 and 8 years old, so I'll have to wait a bit.
- Travel to space and see the earth from there ... my dreams as a child are still with me
.- To have someday enough knowledge at the level of watchmaking mechanics, to have the courage to discuss the evolution of a mechanism with a master watchmaker. 😊
12. Where do you think the industry will be in 10 years?
If I think in the short term, that is 10 years, I see it as a purified industry thanks to the filter of the passion for Haute Horlogerie. Especially in this field, which pays tribute to the best that can be done by man both intellectually and artistically, everything that affects this nobility will disappear. All those who try to usufruct in an ignoble way this field will inevitably disappear. Because those who are really passionate, the final clients, wake up, acquire knowledge and become more critical when choosing a timepiece. The means of distribution will evolve, in fact, this evolution has already begun, communication methods equally. The direct contact between the passion of those who carry out the works and the passion of those who want to acquire them will be narrower. The independent watchmaking houses will take more and more importance, since they distill the pure passion and the understanding of the value of the unique pieces.
To learn more about Juliana Arbeláez www.suissemecanica.ch