We sat down with designer and collector Victor A. Diaz to learn about his lifelong passion for silver and his advice for novice collectors.
What about the Buccellati animals drew you to start collecting them?
The first time I saw a Buccellati animal, I was blown away with the level of true craftsmanship and design. Every piece was made with traditional artisanal techniques, and therefore each creation has the individuality of the silversmith who made it, just like a painting. These are pieces that look so perfect in a contemporary setting, as my interiors tend to be.
If you had to choose one, which would be your favorite Buccellati animal in your collection, and why?
It is very difficult to pick a favorite piece, as each one has something very special about it that drew me to acquire it in the first place, from the sheer scale of the flamingo to the minute detailing on the turkey. That said, the penguin champagne coolers are truly exceptional. From a design aspect, they are the most beautiful works of art that have a very practical use, and something I have enjoyed immensely over the years. Also the fact that one is a male and the other a female penguin, which both have their own expressions, shows the level of thought and craftsmanship that went into these pieces as opposed to simply making them identical pairs.
What advice would you give collectors new to the world of Buccellati’s animals, especially the life-size ones, as far as how to highlight these fantastic creatures in their homes?
I have always seen these pieces as sculptures that should be displayed around the house. That was something that drew me to them originally, that I could incorporate them into my interiors and enjoy them all the time, as opposed to a lot of silver which you only bring out on special occasions. The pieces work beautifully in both contemporary and traditional environments. I had my penguins on either side of my sofa, the turtle on the coffee table, the flamingo by my dining table, and the giant sea horses on either side of my Holly Hunt bookshelf, to mention a few.
Tell us the story behind that amazing Georg Jensen chandelier.
The first time I saw the chandelier, I was blown away. There are only a handful of genuine silver chandeliers ever made, and I knew I just had to have it! The other examples that I had seen were always larger, as they tended to be made for much larger homes from a bygone era, and for me, this one was just the perfect size for today’s living. Like the Buccellati pieces, Georg Jensen retains the same level of quality and craftsmanship to this day. This chandelier was made by them in the early 2000s, and it’s a tour de force that they still retain the very finest silversmiths in the world.
What started your passion for silver?
I have always had a love of shiny things from a very young age. As I grew up, I loved to entertain in my home, and there is no better way to have a party than with food and drinks served on beautiful pieces of silver. The silver also added a very special element in my interiors that no other medium can create. Once I started down that road, I just could not stop!
What is it about pieces by the designers Christian Liaigre, Holly Hunt, and Ralph Rucci that’s made you such a connoisseur of their work?
As with the art and the silver that I have collected, I have always been attracted to the very finest quality and designs. Designers such as Christian Liaigre, Holly Hunt, and Ralph Rucci not only make beautifully designed pieces but the quality and craftsmanship is really exceptional. These are pieces that are made in a way that is getting much rarer in today’s world. For example, the Ralph Rucci dining table is cast as one single piece of bronze like a sculpture, which means there is not a single join over the whole table.
You’re drawn to sleek, modern lines in furnishings, but the Buccellati pieces have very whimsical qualities. How do the two styles play off each other?
I have always been attracted by the juxtaposition of the old and new. For me, the sleek modern lines of the furnishings were the perfect backdrop for my collection. For example, the black lacquer Holly Hunt occasional tables, which I had on either side of my sofa, looked magnificent with the Buccellati penguin wine coolers on top.
What’s your biggest collecting secret?
For me, there is no secret to collecting. However as a designer myself, I was always drawn to the aesthetics of a piece as opposed to buying something simply for being made by a famous artist or silversmith.
Therefore I would say buy only things that you love which bring you great joy to look at every day. However, it is crucial to buy the very best of your budget and to buy pieces in top condition, and examples that are the finest quality of that type of object. As the saying goes, it is much better to own the smallest house of the best street than the biggest house of the worst, and this very much applies to collecting.
Who’s your favorite design icon, and why?
My design icons come from a wide variety of places and eras. I love the great designers of the 18th century, such as Juste-Aurèle Meissonier, who was one of the great proponents of the rococo movement, through to people such as Frank Lloyd Wright. Growing up in Miami, I was surrounded by some of the finest 20th century designs with examples of art deco, 1950s design, and sensational contemporary architecture by people such as the late Zaha Hadid.
How does Miami inform your design aesthetic?
I have always lived in Miami and grown up by the water, so it certainly has had an impact on my design aesthetic. I am certain this is one reason I have such a love of the Buccellati animals. That said, I love to travel around the world, and therefore I like to incorporate the sleek contemporary feeling of Miami with pockets of design from different places.
What is your go-to source for inspiration?
For me to get inspired, I need to see things in real life. That is crucial for fine contemporary furniture, as you can then understand the true quality of the piece and the beauty of the fabrics. The more you can expose yourself to, the better you are. Living in the U.S., there are always art fairs, design fairs, and antique shows going on throughout the year, and at these I get a great range of inspiration which suits my eclectic tastes of bringing together the old and the new.
Tell us about your creative process.
You always have to start with understanding the space that you are working in. Through this, you can start to understand everything from the color palette, the scale of the pieces needed, and even the type of art. As I have been a collector myself for over twenty years, the art is an important part of the interiors I create, and therefore I love nothing more than finding wonderful pieces to complement my designs, which together with everything else, bring the spaces that I create to life.
Describe your style in 6 words or less.
Incorporating the finest of old and new