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Interior Designer’s Pandemic Browsing Leads To Creating A “Joyful Maximalist” Jewelry Store September 08, 2021 (0 comments)


San Francisco, CA—Like many of us, interior designer Noz Nozawa spent a lot of time during the pandemic lockdowns browsing online. A lifelong jewelry lover, she had heard a lot about a jewelry store called Fiat Lux in the Mission District of San Francisco, so she cruised its website and, once things began to reopen again, went to visit the store in person. Image: Fiat Lux’s new store, designed by Noz Nozawa. Aubrie Pick Photography via

Fiat Lux owner Marie McCarthy opened her first jewelry shop and tattoo studio in 2002. In 2011, she and her husband—a college professor who now also makes jewelry—found a tiny space in the Mission District and Fiat Lux was born. The name is an ancient Latin expression that means to create light or dispel ignorance; to get smart.

“Our goal is to empower you with jewelry meant to outlast the hills, a ring, a necklace, a bracelet, no matter how small or large, to be worn for the rest of your life & maybe even beyond,” says the store’s website. 

Fiat Lux features a collection of work from McCarthy’s favorite artists (she did her college thesis on the patron arts), along with jewelry that she and her husband hammered and forged at night in their apartment kitchen. All jewelry in the shop is created with recycled gold and/or conflict free diamonds, and the jeweler is a member of the Green Business Network.

“Callliope” rose-cut gray diamond engagement ring with white diamond baguettes.

In 2016, Fiat Lux expanded into a bigger, open, well-lit space that housed a working studio as well as retail. But by 2021, the jeweler was ready for another expansion and a new space.

Enter Nozawa. Having admired Fiat Lux online, she was ready to experience it in person. There, she met McCarthy, who after chatting and checking out Nozawa’s Instagram, hired her to design the new space.

McCarthy wanted “joyful maximalism,” quite a departure from the previous space that was open, serene, and almost minimalist. In an article in, a trade publication for the interior design industry, Nozawa said her client’s original store was a “badass, punk rock, youthful store; she wanted the [new] Fillmore Street store to be the fancy rich auntie.”

Fiat Lux's second space, opened in 2016, was serene and minimalist.

To create the space, she reached for vivid tropical-printed wallpaper to set the tone. Nozawa treated the paper like art, framing it in blue, then she tapped an artist friend to go one step further and pour gold resin down each panel, letting the drips run over the wallpaper. She had the same artist, Caroline Lizarraga, paint a snake on the floor, an homage to the heritage of the snake motif in jewelry, she told BusinessofHome

A wider view of the new Fiat Lux interior, the snake on the floor, the black and white striped settee, and the gold resin poured over the wallpaper art installations.

An octagonal case sits over the black-and-white snake, and most jewelry and other objets d’ art sit in wall cases painted a brilliant blue, lifted from the wallpaper. At the back of the store sits a black-and-white striped settee, which Nozawa said she “rage-bought in the middle of the pandemic.” Having no room for it in her own home, she brought it to the store, where it serves as a waiting area for customers who have private appointments.

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