“Made by Hand, Shaped by History.” focuses on founder’s inspiring legacy.
Harry Kotlar’s life story has all the elements of a classic movie. The conflict, the heartbreak, the eventual triumph–it’s all here. It’s a story that begins with the Kotlar’s leaving a war-torn Poland and ends with them settling down in Los Angeles and founding the now world-renowned fine jewellery design house. But the truth is, this story hasn’t really ended. By turning adversity into triumph, Harry Kotlar inspired every facet of the company to uphold his legacy of excellence and his exceptional persona.
Words have been written about Harry Kotlar’s philosophy, and now it was time to present it in a medium that best suits it: a short film, entitled Made by Hand. Shaped by History. The film was unveiled in an exclusive premiere held at Shreve & Co. in San Francisco on December 5.
Not just about the Craft
The film highlights the design house’s devotion to old world artistry and the intense dedication of the company’s Italian master artisans. “We chose to focus on the craftsmanship element of the Kotlar story,” says Czarah Cabrera, brand director for Harry Kotlar, and the film’s creative director. “Because that’s what sets us apart. We utilize old world techniques that have been long forgotten. Most of the jewellery world right now prefers mass production but we choose to continue and preserve the lost art of hand making jewellery.”
The film turns back time by showing the closely-guarded techniques of Harry Kotlar’s master artisans. Their work is a homage to their roots and Harry Kotlar’s legacy. Only four artisans touch a piece during its creation: a forger, a carver/setter, a polisher, and a quality control expert. The combined expertise of these masters elevates jewellery to wearable pieces of art.
“I think the world has become too mechanized,” says Czarah. “People have forgotten to stop, breathe and take in life’s essential experiences. This film reveals the four pillars that our founder instilled in us, namely love, passion, tenacity, and hard work. These pillars are not the most profitable qualities, but the company is committed to a higher ideal than just profit and the pursuit of a faster and lucrative process.”
A Production Like No Other
A film about master craftsmen requires remarkable filmmakers. The eight-minute film is the result of almost three years of intense research and collaboration with a highly talented production team. Director Ace Salvador’s travels in Italy gave him a first-hand glimpse into the crafting methods shown in the film. “Fortunately, I just came back from Italy in January, and I was very inspired, knowing I had seen all these craftsmen and blacksmith shops in person,” he says. “That reflected the tone we wanted to create, an atmosphere that was timeless, built on heritage and ancient history but still authentic to the Kotlar story.”
The result of all these work and immersion is a film that Czarah described as “Every scene looks like a painting; reminiscent of a Rembrandt.” With its dreamy and amber-kissed palette, Made by Hand, Shaped by History is unlike any other jewellery film or commercial.
The Shreve & Co. as the Stage
Shreve & Co. in San Francisco hosted the film’s premiere on December 5. Shreve & Co.’s event space was transformed into a screening/exhibit space where guests watched the film, as well as view photos that revealed the intricacies of crafting a Harry Kotlar piece while indulging themselves with caviar and champagne.
“Shreve & Co. was the perfect venue for the premiere,” says Czarah. “Harry Kotlar has a boutique here, and both our companies are dedicated to elevating luxury and creating unique experiences.”
As an added surprise, the guests were also able to sit down and create their personalized Harry Kotlar pieces with Kotlar’s illustrator onsite.
The event was an engaging and intimate affair that gathered Kotlar collectors, fine jewellery enthusiasts, global and local influencers, notable writers, editors and industry personalities. They were guided through the splendour of ultimate artisanal luxury.