Monday, July 28, 2014

Get to know: ila&i

Rubies, sapphires, turquoise and gold - all of my favorite things. Classic designs with brightly colored gemstones. This jewelry brand, ila&i, has been on my mind ever since I first saw a piece from the line. 
I was fortunate enough to meet the team behind this brand this spring - Ila &Vikas, a brother sister duo. The nicest, most talented brother, sister duo in the industry.

When I asked Vikas about how their line got started, he sent back an incredibly thorough response:

"In 2005 I was working on a technology startup in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a few classmates from college when we ran out of our series A funding.  Times were bad and we couldn't secure our second round of funding.  I had two choices, one was to jump back into another startup and the other was loose myself on a backpacking adventure.  Hard decision?  It wasn't as much since I was on unemployment.  A month later I had a 3 month trip booked to India with no itinerary. 

My family had taken my sister and I since we were little, but the trips were filled with family time which was amazing in its own right, but that left a large part of Indian unexplored for me.  I decided to head off on my own and follow the southern coast of India.  I have a weak spot for beaches.  The trip was an eye opening experience to say the least, so after three months I wasn't exactly ready to come home.  The night before my flight home my father called me and told me he had arranged an apprenticeship in a diamond cutting factory if I was interested.  Diamonds were the farthest thing on my mind, and I knew he was trying to get me into the family diamond business.  I told him no and that I would see him in a few days.  Then Ila got on the phone and told me I was being naive.  I had a chance to live in Bombay.  Why wouldn't I jump on that chance.  I started my apprenticeship that very next morning. 

My first apprenticeship was rigorous.  I was in one of the largest diamond cutting factories working on the assortment floor.  It was 6 if not 7 days of hard labor (not in the muscular type, but imagine being bent over looking through a loupe for 8-10 hours a day).  While the work was arduous the people whom I worked with were incredible.  Most of them were poor and had been at the company for years, but they all had some an amazing take on life.  They definitely did not take what they had for granted.  After my training was done I was not ready to leave India.  I had immersed myself in jewelry and gems, so I decided to take a design certification course in Bombay.  In India designers draw and paint.  As an engineer this was the art class I was dying to take for years.  I fell in love instantly, so a year after having landed in India, I was on the phone with Ila back in the States making a pact to move back to Houston if she wanted to start our own line."
The inspiration: Their hometown in India. Growing up their family would travel back to Rajasthan to visit their ancestral residence, known as "Haveli." It stood for over 200 years and has seen the birthing of their father, his father and the rest of their paternal ancestors. As children their grandfather would recount the tales of ancient mythology that were painted in frescoes dotting the meticulously detailed archways that connected one edifice to another. Each edifice was carved with the most skilled hand to tell stories of the past. The carvings were adorned with inlaid stones and it seemed the jewelers truly did the detailing in the building. Those trips to India created a foundation for Vikas' appreciation for minute details, beautiful stones, handwork and curved lines. They learned that together, those elements told a story.

The process: They always start off sketching. Vikas has a beat up sketch book that he is convinced makes his creative powers come alive. "It's like the bounded book from "Never Ending Story." Since they have moved into more color, some designs start off with them playing with color combinations, but a sketch always follows.

Vikas describes their brother, sister dynamic: "We couldn't be more different (as most siblings are).  It took me a few years to understand what was so special about the process, but since we are siblings we are brutally honest with each other.  If something is not worthy in one of our eyes the other knows it right away. We cut out a lot of wasted energy and time that a PC working relationship would breed."

I was able to witness some of this on the last day of Couture when the show had slowed down and I had time to wander - Ila laying out stones, Vikas sharing his opinion. It's amazing to see them so serious in their work and then a few moments later laughing about who has final say on the designs.

Ring stack created for me by the lovely Ila

Vikas never gets attached to any one design, but if he had to choose, he's drawn to the Amelie Collection. He feels as though they've only just scratched the surface of what the collection will evolve to. "The color combinations in the collection and the striking contrast of the shapes somehow harmonize so well together."


Favorite artists / designers? Older industrial design from Braun, Dali, Havikoro Crew from Houston (one of the premiere breakdancing crews in the world) and any well designed sneaker.
When Vikas is not in the studio, he tries to be outside as much as possible. His loves: Soccer and breakdancing (which I would love to witness next time I see him).

Current favorite song? Oblivion by Grimes

Visit ila&i's website to see more designs!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And we'd never feel lost anymore.

Last week I traveled East for a few days. My home, my heart. I visited boutiques I've been longing to see in person, had a run-in with Anna Wintour and ate a delicious Magnolia cupcake.While there I had several songs playing in my head, so I put them in a mix. Have a listen below!

01. Confetti - The Lemonheads
02. The Valley - Eisley
03. I Wanna Get Better - Bleachers
04. The Way You Wear Your Head - Nada Surf
05. In Remission - The Menzingers
06. Bleary-eye-d Blue - Margot & the Nuclear So & So's
07. Waitress Song - First Aid Kit

Monday, July 14, 2014

Designer love: Selin Kent

If you love minimal jewelry, then you must get to know Miss Selin Kent. Thanks to the best boutique in Denver, Goldyn, I discovered this talented designer. I am so glad I did because not only is she talented, but also inspirational and we have a lot in common (see: music lover + concertgoer).
 I like stories that start the way Selin's does because it's so relatable - she has a job in market research right after college but has a negative reaction to sitting in front of a screen all day. Knowing that she needed to be more creative in her daily life she signed up for metalsmith classes. 
The inspiration: "My inspiration is varied. From a visual perspective, my inspiration ranges from the clean lines of architecture and certain schools of modern art such as Bauhaus, to Scandinavian design.
The pieces of my first collection are actually named after female jazz, blues and rock artists. I see my line as an homage to these amazing women. On a more visceral level, I’m continually inspired by the audience that I design for – women."

The process: "I actually make most of my models using 3d modeling software, or CAD (Computer Aided Design). I make a rough sketch of the piece first, and then start constructing the piece in CAD. The model is subsequently printed is 3d printed in wax and cast in metal. At that point I can tell if any adjustments need to be made to the model. I generally construct the model first, and then figure out the stone placement."


Favorite design: "It’s a difficult choice, but it’s probably a combination of two rings stacked together. I create many of my designs with the idea that they might be stacked and combined with one another. Two rings, called Koko and Koko Mini, even interlock like puzzle pieces. They work well alone as well, but it goes without saying that people will often opt to buy them together. I think they encapsulate my jewelry quite well – minimal but thoughtful."
Favorite artist / designer:  "I draw from the pure forms and shapes adopted by the Bauhaus school, so I admire a lot of the artists that come from this school. These include Mondrian, Kandinsky and Moholy-Nagy."  


When Selin is not designing, she is an avid concert goer - and she's lucky enough to live in NYC, so there are plenty of concerts, jazz bars and DJ sets.

"At the moment, I can’t get enough of Tensnake’s newest album, Glow. It’s so fun, and can be listened to actively as well as in the background (which is great for work). He takes retro sounds and makes them current, which is a sound I’m really enjoying these days."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Georgian Heart Rings

In France during the mid-18th century the popular ring to signify an alliance (marriage) was a twin heart style. I do believe Georgian is my favorite period when it comes to eras of antique jewelry and although I am not typically into heart-shared jewelry - I love these rings.


 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
The twin heart rings stop me in my tracks, but I also love this style that became popular around the same time. Single hearts crowned, aflame or tied with a lovers knot or key. The hands holding the heart and the detailing above the heart symbolize the sacred nature of romantic love.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Get to know: Sanni Falkenburg

I am so excited to feature Sanni Falkenburg. We sat at lunch next to each other one day at Couture and I was attracted to the ring she was wearing. It was a cosmic connection! Since Las Vegas we have been keeping in touch by email. Sanni is such a gem! A ray of positive energy. And she creates some amazing jewels.

Sanni started making jewelry when she got to a point in her life where she wasn't happy with her career - she wanted to do something creative. So, she went to school for jewelry design - a year after she graduated, she started her own business.

The inspiration: Inspiration for Sanni comes from the rocks and crystals she works with - she's also inspired by the starry skies and Aurora Borealis which she often witnessed back home in Finland. 

Her rings are truly art - like portable sculptures. Currently her favorite designs are her Stardusters - three finger rings carved out of black agate

The process: Sanni's process has a lot to do with the raw material itself. She has some ideas that she wants to create and sketches them, but nothing is too definite until she finds the stones. After she sources the stones she cuts them open to see what's inside - sometimes there's an amazing feature and other times there are impurities that need to be cut - both affect the process as well as the final design.

"It's like having a dialogue with the stone. With my lapidary work I want to bring out the best of each stone, no matter how modest or vivid the coloring and formations of the stone are. I aim to make pieces that people want to pick up and touch - something eye-catching, playful and tactile. Considering that the stones had been formed hundreds of millions of years ago, it feels incredible to work with such a fantastic material."

When Sanni isn't creating jewelry she goes for long walks with her miniature poodle, Ronna. "She's the apple of my eye - she comes with me to my workshop, she's my design assistant!"

Favorite music? Anything happy and upbeat.
"Aurora Borealis"-studs, made of Stalactite Amethyst and electroformed fine silver with 18ct yellow gold vermeil.

"Aurora Borealis"-necklace, with Uruguayan Amethyst and electroformed fine silver with 18ct yellow gold vermeil.

Rock Crystal ring with electroformed fine silver.
Rock Crystal ring with natural sparkling druzy crystals and electroformed fine silver.

See more of Sanni's designs on her website or Facebook page!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

On my mind: Vintage Chanel

Not sure why, perhaps it was coming across a beautiful tray table or just the classic style of the brand, but vintage Chanel designs have been stuck in my head.

 Table from Ruby + George, currently available at Goldyn.
Although Chanel isn't really my style or anything I'd save up to own, I appreciate iconic brands. The clean, classic lines and the high quality stand out to me about Chanel. It's been thriving for decades and the designs have evolved, but remained so consistent. Gold, black + pearls. What is not to love?
Coco Chanel fascinated me and I want to know more about her. She reminds me a tiny bit of my grandmother who never owned any, but was a seamstress and made her own Chanel inspired suits. My grandmother came over from Italy when she was young and decided she wanted to be a fashion designer. Although her tale is modest in comparison to Coco's, it remains an inspiration.

Long strands of pearls! I will forever be a fan of this classic look. 

Classic gold chain bracelets. I love these as well as modern versions. ESPECIALLY this one designed by Suzannah Wainhouse.

And in my search, I stumbled across some Fourth of July inspiration. Hope everyone has a wonderful long weekend - thank you for scrolling through my random brain-dump of a post!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Get to know: Annie Fensterstock

I first met the lovely Annie Fensterstock in an elevator in NYC - I was enamored by the stunning locket she was wearing, later to find out that she was the designer. 
Again, at Couture I ran into her - she is a truly wonderful person and I really love her designs. I'm especially a fan of her necklaces (I'd wear them all layered together) and her earring designs. 

Annie started making jewelry in college - she made beaded necklaces that she sold over the summer and at Grateful Dead shows. She had all of the jewelry pinned to t-shirts and her brothers would walk around trying to sell the jewels - they split the profits. In college she signed up for a jewelry class to learn how to make leather clasps for her necklaces but ended up falling in love with metal which lead her to major in Metalwork and Jewelry Design.

The process: Annie sketches everything first. She's always drawing. As a kid in school her notebook was always covered with intricate designs - she never looked up in class because she was too busy drawing. Her doodles eventually become jewelry designs - once she comes up with something she will redraw it hundreds of times until she's satisfied. Then she tweaks the designs to fit the stones, not the other way around.

The inspiration: Annie's inspiration comes from everything around her - art, fashion, music, nature, family & friends. She also loves the idea of blurring the boundaries of time and place by mixing influences from Medieval to Modern - Byzantine and Gothic with Deco and Nouveau.
The secrets, stories, anticipation - and the hours of labor constructing hinges - make lockets Annie's favorite type of jewelry. A locket to her feels like an heirloom, something precious. I completely agree with this sentiment.

More than just jewels:

Weekends for Annie are all about family - they run around from dance and drama to soccer and skating. They stick together as much as possible and carve our time with cousins. Family is very important to her.
On a similar note, Annie's favorite artist is her cousin Lauren Fensterstock. Lauren creates amazing installations out of paper flowers, charcoal and mirrors. She builds site specific, monochromatic landscapes of dense, lush gardens which are amazing. I explored her work and especially love these paper flowers inside a glass container, kind of like a terrarium.

Annie is currently listening to: Yo La Tengo, The National, Interpol with her kids pop music as well as show tunes. She doesn't often have a dull, or quiet moment!

See more of Annie's designs on her website!