Our favorite Scottish girl and Pärla designer came by the shop to discuss the inspiration behind her beautifully minimalistic collection.
Photos and Interview by Isabel Ulatowski
After studying jewellery design in Scotland at Duncan of Jordanstone, Iona came to London with an interest in the commercialisation of high quality jewellery, that would appeal to a minimalist customer aesthetic. It was important for her to balance her own design ambitions with the constraints of the manufacturing process, with a view to grow her brand and sell internationally.
How do you find these limitations impact your design?
Iona Brown: It can be a positive actually, because when you have limited resources, it draws you to the important bits, the tiny tiny bits of detail.
Which is what you’re known for, your acute sense of detail.
I wanted to create some beautiful pieces that were designed in a simple and subtle way, and to have the manufacturing and the craftsmanship play part of that as well. The pieces are not necessarily specific to gender, what is important is who the jewellery appeals to. I think it is important to understand who likes what I’m doing, so I think that is where the branding comes in. It depends on personal style, I think you can’t limit it to gender. The idea behind the brand particularly, is simple and beautifully made products.
We do see that in Pärla, men coming in and looking at your jewellery because it does have that unisex quality. Are you interested in that market?
There has been a big interest with quite a few of the rings and bangles for men, and I think that would be an exciting move, to produce products which can cater to both markets. There are a smaller amount of brands offering a decent price point for a great product. Discussing with guys if they would like to wear jewellery, and they say “I don’t, but I would like to try”, which is a common answer, so there is definitely scope to try and do something.
Where do you derive inspiration from?
My inspiration tends to go towards architecture, construction, and structure. I am drawn to certain architects that focus on process and function. Designer, John Pawson, is a big inspiration. He has looked at space and how it is affected by light. In his work he revolves whole buildings around one skylight, and how you can bring light into a whole building with one light source. I find it fascinating how he is able to take that design process right through to construction.
When designing my pieces, I try to section off parts of buildings, or specific joints, and see how they are constructed. I am drawn to the basics of how joints are put together, and then use that information to influence certain elements of the jewellery. I look at the types of grooves, whether it is round or square or V-shaped and then question how the effect was achieved. What process was used? I am interested in these technical details because obviously when you have a solid piece, you have to cut into it, you’ve got to adapt it. A lot of my inspiration has actually been found in objects, structures and buildings, how they connect and work together. The other very important part to look at is the material used, so the difference between using only metal vs glass and concrete joining the two processes of construction are very different even if they are the same shape.
Pärla is a curated jewellery experience, how do you feel about your pieces sitting alongside our other designers?
I think we sit nicely amongst them, and that is due to Erin’s curation. Because quite a lot of us as designers cross over in terms of a shared aesthetic, it is important to notice how we all have our particular features (own little things) and important elements that we focus on in our brands. And I think that is very clear, you can see that in the work.
The best thing I've found from having the relationship with Pärla is learning about what the customer wants, and the value of what you guys give to the pieces as well. The customer interaction is really important with my pieces because the detail is so fine and can sometimes be overlooked. Your customer pays attention to detail, and appreciates high quality. So it is nice to be able to offer a beautiful product that is part of the Pärla brand.