MEET THE DESIGNER
A MASTER SCULPTOR AND BON VIVANT LIVES OUT HIS DREAM IN AFRICA
How did you get your start? The important thing to understand about the Patrick Mavros brand is that I started at a disadvantage: I suffered as a victim of polio for a year of my life, and that set me back in many different ways. One is recognition: No one recognized me as being anything. Since I lived in the bush in Africa, I made friends with little animals. One important friend was a cockerel who slept in my bed every night and who I used to draw. I eventually began drawing others and gradually became good. Did you receive any training? I didn't have a day's training! This was a great advantage. No one taught me about corridors of vision or limits. I was a free spirit. I could do whatever I wanted. If I did something well and it sold well, I could survive. Nothing limits me to this day. What's your design philosophy? My love has grown into a business, so I have to be smart about what I do. Not everything has a commercial beginning to it (for example, dodo birds—who on earth would collect those?). What I do, though, is I understand that people are very conscious of the animal kingdom and they love to collect families of animals, which I love to create. Wildlife absolutely fires me up. What made you realize you could make a living through art? When my young wife wore a pair of earrings I'd made for her to her hairdresser. Ladies in the salon wanted them, and they took off selling. That gave me a little financial margin that allowed me the time to start expressing myself in the sculpture of animals, which was what I really wanted to do. When those earrings started to fly, I knew I was onto something and nobody was going to stop me. How did a little brand like yours become such a phenomenon? It's just hard work and commitment to service. To be able to serve is a pleasure, and not to serve properly is a sin. Each and every customer, no matter what they spend or don't spend, is the most important person that walks through our door. And we take great pride in the integrity of our work—each and every piece must be treated as a masterpiece. Integrity is always of the utmost importance. What materials do you work in? I started as an ivory sculptor; I was a licensed ivory residue dealer and carved miniatures in ivory, but, when the controversy came along, I quickly changed my medium to silver. I love the look of it, and the patina it achieves with age really brings the sculptures to life. Do you have a favorite of your pieces? I quite like cuddly animals. Hippos, for example, are wonderfully voluptuous. I have one particular piece that I love: a big mother hippo with all of her voluminous folds of skin sitting on her backside with her little calf snuggled up against her neck. Whichever way you look at the carving, it's full of great detail. What do you love most about what you do? I told you no one would stop my dreams, and one of my dreams was that I would be able to work in a beautiful environment that respects all things African. Our family has a strong belief in sharing, and I think we really have been a model of how the enterprise of business has coexisted peacefully with traditional culture and history. This to me is just a great achievement.