Orno: Jewelry Inspired by Moorish Architecture

If you know anything about me, you know that my approach to jewelry is minimalistic and understated (just how it should be 😉 ).

Something about having to change accessories with every outfit never appealed to me..and always seemed like too much work.  So ever since I’ve known myself, I’ve tried to find classic, elegant pieces that are appropriate for anytime and anywhere.  Not an easy feat these days when “big/flashy/loud” is all I can seem to find in stores (especially in Beirut).

Recently though..and to my delight, I came across a line of jewelry (and a ring from this line in particular) that embodies everything I look for in jewelry.  And as it’s made by a Lebanese designer/architect..I thought I would share my new obsession with all of you!

About Orno

Orno, the Latin root of the word ornament, is to decorate, honor, or distinguish.  And the Orno collection draws inspiration from the elaborate geometrical patterns found in Moorish architecture.

Carla Smiley founded Orno in 2006, and launched her first line of wooden jewelry at the Society for the Technological Arts in Montreal.  Since then, the collection has been sold online as well as in art galleries and boutiques across North America.  Upon receiving her masters degree in architecture from Mcgill University in 2009, Carla launched her sterling silver collection.

Carla now lives in Beirut, Lebanon where she works as an architect.

Orno Jewelry

My favorite piece (The Facet Ring) from Orno Jewelry..

What I love most about Orno Jewelry is that it’s both simple and complex at exactly same time..and suitable for any occassion, be it work or out with friends.  Just perfect for a no-frills person like me.

I caught up with the designer to learn a bit more about her line, and about how she got into designing jewelry in the first place.  This is what she had to say..

A little bit about Orno

“I started Orno about four years ago, while I was still in school.  At first I was using only wood, but after taking a few classes at a local visual arts center, I moved into silver.  My background in architecture definitely influences the way I design.  The collection is very much inspired by the intricate geometrical patterns in Moorish Architecture as well as the bold geometric shapes of North African tribal jewelry.  I like to keep the pieces simple and elegant.”

What I love about Orno

“I love being able to design jewelry because its so simple compared to architecture!  You don’t have to readjust it a dozen times depending on external constraints.  Its just an object – it doesn’t have to be functional, it just has to be beautiful.”

Orno Jewelry

Arc earrings

Orno Jewelry

Mirari Necklace

Orno Jewelry

Mirari Ring

How I started

“I was fooling around in the woodshop at school, where we built our massing models (pre-sketchup).  I came across a really beautiful piece of walnut and decided to make a pair of earrings out of it!  I nearly cut my fingers off on the jig-saw.  In any case, I started Orno when doing my undergraduate degree in architecture at McGill University.  I used all kinds of exotic woods, never any stains, only shellac to bring out the natural color.”

Orno Jewelry

Some of Carla's earlier work..the wood line is now discontinued though

Orno Jewelry

Some of Carla's earlier work..

After finishing my masters in architecture, I decided I was ready for a new challenge and started looking into silver.  I took a few classes, and watched alot of online rhino tutorials.  (Rhino is a powerful 3D design program which uses NURBS geometry to describe any form regardless of size or complexity.)  All of the pieces are modeled in rhino before being printed in wax and cast.”

Orno Jewelry

Eye Necklace (my next purchase)

Orno Jewelry

Wedge Necklace

Story behind the name

“Orno is the latin root of the word ornament.  I thought it was perfect!  Short, and easy to remember.”

Hottest product

“People seem to love the Facet Ring.  My personal favorites are the necklaces though!”

Orno Jewelry

Another look at The Facet Ring...isn't it beautiful?

Orno Jewelry

The Facet Ring by Orno Jewelry

Orno Jewelry

3*4 Pendant

Other interesting facts

“For every piece sold, I have a tree planted in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil through the Nature Conservancy.  You can check them out at plantabillion.org.  It’s only a dollar a tree!  Also, the winners of the Deutsche Bank Creative Award, Karen and Josette did the photography for my website.”

Promo Code!!!

And just for my readers, Carla has offered a 20% discount off of her line!  Use the promotional code beirut20 when you place an order on the Orno Jewelry Website to receive the discount.  You can also pay by cash (yes, you will still receive the discount) if you live in Beirut.  Carla will personally deliver all items purchased.
To connect with Orno Jewelry follow the below url’s..

Email Address:  carla@ornojewelry.com

Company Website:  www.ornojewelry.com

Online Store URL:  www.orno.bigcartel.com

Blog URL:  www.ornolita.wordpress.com

Twitter:  @ornojewelry

Facebook: Orno Jewelry


Filed under life in Lebanon

11 responses to “Orno: Jewelry Inspired by Moorish Architecture

  1. Nice pieces and great promotion! Bravo 🙂

  2. Funky! I like it a lot 😀

  3. joseph

    Do you actually get paid for all these product placements that you write up about?

    • haha..somehow I knew this was coming. Just for the record..I have never gotten paid to feature anything on my blog. And I never will. I write about what I want, when I want…without any hidden agenda. That’s what makes blogging so great..no one can influence what you say unless you let them.

      I like to update my blog about 4 to 5 times a week (If you are a regular reader you should know that). Sometimes that means writing about people, places, things, brands.. to keep a continual stream of new and updated content on my blog.

      Thanks for your concern Joseph..but if I was getting paid..I surely would have mentioned it. Thank you for stopping by and for commenting! I hope you enjoy reading my blog. Come back again soon!

      • joseph

        I’m not actually concerned Danielle. More just a question of whether you get paid or not.

        Thanks for setting the record straight for me and your other devoted readers.

  4. i love your work, and i also love the way you had the courage to start a new challenge , life is funny we don’t know what is hiding for us .
    good luck .

  5. joseph

    I’m not actually concerned Danielle. More just a question of whether you get paid or not.

    Thanks for setting the record straight for me and your other devoted readers.

  6. Pingback: jewelry|fine jewelry|jewellery jewelry|jewelry watch|jewellery box|simple jewelry – Vertex Accessories » Blog Archive » Orno: Jewelry Inspired by Moorish Architecture | This is Beirut

  7. Thanks for the lovely post Danielle! Joseph, I guarantee I’m not paying her, though she does make a beautiful Orno model 😉

  8. Stef

    Beautiful, timeless and classy pieces Carla. Keep em coming:)

  9. I tried to steal that ring 😛

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