The American Jewelry Design Council has announced that Leila Tai won the 2009 Grand Prize of its annual New Talent Contest.
The council selects its winner based on the originality, craftsmanship, innovation, marketability and cohesiveness of design. The council also recognized one Honorable Mention: Patricia Tschetter of Tschetter Studio, Inc.
As Grand Prize winner, Tai will receive an all-expense-paid booth to exhibit her collections in the New Designer Gallery at the July 2009 JA New York Summer Show, which is held at the Javitts Center. During the JA Show. The AJDC will honor Tai at an award ceremony and present her with a trophy made by AJDC member Michael Good. Tai will also receive professional support from members of the AJDC on making the step to larger markets.
“Leila Tai is not a new designer in our industry but she is certainly one of the most talented, and the council is proud to recognize her extraordinary work this year,” said Alan Revere, member of the American Jewelry Design Council.
Leila Tai is a jewelry artist, designer, and teacher who is known for her limited-edition pieces celebrating perfection in nature and for her masterful use of the 15th Century technique of plique a jour. Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, during its “golden years,” she developed early in her life a passion for jewelry as an art form.
After studying Art Education at the American University of Beirut, she received a M.A. in Art Education with a specialization in metal work from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where, among other things, she learned to solve 3D design problems by studying the giants of architecture.
New York City’s design community and the inspiration of its skyscrapers were strong attractions for the young designer. On her way back to Beirut in the late 1960s, she served a brief apprenticeship with Ed Wiener (Ed Wiener Gallery). She moved to New York in 1972, and studied with such prominent jewelry designers as Donald Clafflin, Robert Kulicke and Jean Stark.
She worked as a fulltime jewelry designer for Gemveto and Van Cleef and Arpels, among others, as well as in the fashion industry, for firms such as Trifari, Monet, and Liz Claiborne.
Among her numerous industry awards for her own designs are the 2007 Niche Awards; an award for work “of exceptional merit” from The Enamelist Society in 2005; and the prestigious Diamonds Today Award in 1995. Her work has been featured in art books, such as Contemporary Enameling by Lilyan Bachrach (2006) and 500 Earrings, juried by Alan Revere (2006), and publications such as The Robb Report, ForbesLife, Metamorphoses, Ornament, Jewelry Connoisseur, JQ, and Luster.
She has had several one-woman shows and participated in many exhibitions, including the 2008 National Jewelry Institute Designer Showcase at The Forbes Galleries in New York City.
Tai has taught courses at the American University of Beirut, Parsons School of Design, and the Revere Academy. She currently teaches jewelry design and rendering at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Pratt Institute.
The American Jewelry Design Council is a group of over thirty nationally prominent designers who have banded together in order to increase the artistic appreciation of original fine jewelry.