Ahead of his exclusive jewellery collection, Liberty goes behind the scenes with Nak Armstrong, one of our most popular designer jewellery brands.
A leading jewellery designer since the 90s, Nak Armstrong has become famous for bold jewellery with a complex yet classic finish. Working with precious gemstones and innovative metalwork, his pieces have an award-winning reputation for mosaic-like, architectural finishes. We went behind the scenes at his Texan workshop to find out how this internationally-coveted label has become such a success.
How have you set out your work space?
We have fully corked walls where I hang my sketches all over the studio; I have to see things up and in front of me to guide me. Ideas come fast and it helps me to edit and it gives me an evolving visual of the direction of the collection.
Has it evolved over the years you have been designing jewellery?
Very much so…much more organised! It’s become less cluttered; I’ve found that when I surround myself with too much stuff, it can hold me back from moving forward. An uncluttered studio allows me to dream.
What are your plans for your next collection?
I always love doing earrings…they’re my passion. Look for more intricate ear jackets and studs as well as some intricate statement earrings. There are also some bold necklaces and intricate pendants as well as some gold cuffs on the horizon.
Where is your favourite place to find gemstones?
The Tucson Gem Show always has the biggest selection in one place but I also look to a few select stone cutters that I work with all around the world who source and cut unusual and one-of-a-kind stones.
How do you keep designs fresh while remaining true to your unique design signature?
I design from my gut; I feel my way through the process rather than trying to intellectualize it too much. But on the flip side I’m fascinated by innovation, inventing new ways to use and set gemstones. Staying true to my design signature generally comes later in the editing process. Although I might love something I’ve designed, it gets cut if it strays too far from the DNA of the brand.
What is your favourite piece from the exclusive liberty collection and why?
I Love the the earring we call the Falling Collar. I think it represents my love for things classic but with a modern edge. The earring sits high on the ear and hinges in an unexpected place; the colors are unexpected, a mosaic of shapes and colour.
Puerto Rican-rooted New Yorker Venessa Arizaga talks us through her life as a creative and what inspires her designer jewellery collections.
Venessa Arizaga burst onto the jewellery scene in 2010 with a collection of playful, fashion-conscious pieces that played on her Puerto Rican roots as much as her home town of New York. A favourite in the Liberty jewellery hall, Venessa Arizaga bracelets and necklaces are the perfect contemporary twists for your jewellery stack. As her autumn/ winter 2014 collection hits Liberty.co.uk, we caught up with the designer to get a sneaky peek behind the scenes of this irrepressible label.
What part of New York influences your designs? How is this contrasted with Puerto Rican culture?
What hugely influences my designs are the cool girls I see in the city. I’ve always been inspired by people who just go out there and have fun with fashion. It inspires me to make pieces that they would want to wear. That eccentricity, combined with the laid-back ‘island girl’ lifestyle influenced by my Puerto-Rican roots is one of the main essences of the pieces I design.
Other than these two places, where do you find inspiration for new designs and witty motifs?
I find inspiration in everything – from fabrics, to music, and tons of research. I love going to libraries and spending days on end pulling books and being inspired by what I find.
How does your workspace and studio reflect the personality of your jewellery?
Our studio is very laid-back and has a lot of things that remind me of the beach. We have surfboards, maps and globes, flamingos, and a rooftop with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline. It’s reflected in my jewellery in the way that it’s easygoing, and but fun and daring at the same time. I think it’s the way accessories should be.
Do you have any good luck charms or keepsakes in the office?
We have a studio cat named Betty and she is a sweet little cat. I play with her every day! She mostly lies down and wants to be brushed. For the time we’ve had her, she’s made the studio a happier place.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Each day is different, depending on the season. I have days where I work on developing a new collection, and days where I prepare for production. I’m a Jack-of-all-trades – I love that there’s no typical routine because it keeps things interesting.
Which part of the design process do you love the most?
My favourite part is free-styling when I make a piece. I like combining my favourite charms, thread colours and new sewing techniques. Sometimes it never comes out the way you expect it, but with mistakes and lots of experimentation, you always get something innovative.
Do you have a particular favourite piece of jewellery you wear every day?
Right now, I love wearing the friendship cuffs from our AW14 collection. On one side it looks like just a simple cuff but when you look at the other side, you see that it’s a fun little bracelet with a happy charm. I’m obsessed with the special knotting technique we developed for this piece.
What should we be thinking about when buying our next jewellery piece?
Follow your gut. If you see a piece that speaks to you, try it on, and if it’s a fit you know it’s meant to be yours. Jewellery is really special and very personal.
Have you visited our Regent Street store? If so, which is your favourite department and why?
Yes, I have! It’s very beautiful. My favourite department is the fabric department. I am in love with the historical Liberty prints! I found myself in trouble buying meters and meters of gorgeous cottons that I brought back and decorated my house with.
The our full range of Venessa Arizaga jewellery is available to shop in-store, with selected styles available online.
Contemporary fine jewellery brand Eva Fehren take us behind the scenes at their New York studio.
Eva Fehren was launched in 2011 by New York-based designer and artist, Eva Zuckerman, along with her business partner and long-time friend Ann Gorga. The Eva Fehren collection features beautiful and conceptual fine jewellery designs inspired by the industrial and architectural landscape of their native city. Combining contrasting elements, such as strong and structured shapes with organic elements like precious stones and metals, Eva maintains a delicate, feminine aesthetic with a modern, sharp edge.
Eva gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of day-to-day life at her city studio.
How have you decorated the Eva Fehren studio?
I try to communicate the aesthetic of my brand in everything I do, right down to the furnishings of the office. I decorated my office with a combination of my art as well as things that inspire me, including hides, marble and a custom-made whitewashed work surface. And it probably comes as no surprise, everything is white, black and grey!
Do you have any moodboards/inspirations for the next collection that you can share?
I often put things up on the walls as they inspire me. It helps me stay focused on the overall vision of the brand.
How does the design process work at Eva Fehren?
I spend a lot of time drawing and dreaming of new ideas. My inspiration usually comes from within as opposed to outside references. I love the process of drawing and reworking an idea until it is perfected.
What do you do when you need a creative boost?
I talk to my friends who are artists and designers; I am very fortunate to be surrounded by such a creative community and that my friends are incredibly talented. I lean on them when I feel I need a creative boost.
How do you keep designs fresh while staying on brand?
I am constantly evolving the collection and designing new pieces. I sketch new ideas even when we are not in development and as inspiration hits – this helps me stay in a creative rhythm. I often look back at my sketchbooks to revisit good ideas that may have been passed over and to make sure I am building upon my classic pieces.
What jewellery do you wear every day?
I wear my Eva Fehren X ring every day. I think of it as a badge of strength and I wear my X’s like armor. I feel stronger with it on.
What’s the best thing about working with a friend?
Seeing someone you love every day.
Do you have any work day essentials?
My Givenchy bag, pink tape, a sharpie, my sketchbook and my calipers. And my X ring of course.
Anglo-Swedish watchmaker, Larsson & Jennings, are taking the timepiece scene by storm. We caught up with the discreet team to get the 411 on combining two styles of European design, strap preferences and their top tips for buying watches.
Which watch are you wearing now?
It’s really hot in London today so we’re wearing the CM | Gold – the lightweight Milanese chain metal is nice and cool in the heat, plus the colour looks good with a tan.
Do you wear the same watch all the time or change it to suit your mood?
We like to change it up. Our core watches have quick-release straps so you can swap the styles to suit the mood or activity you’re doing at that time.
What do you love about Swedish and British style?
Both nations have incredibly rich history and design identities, which offer a wealth of styles to be inspired by from both the past and present.
How have you brought these elements to your watch designs?
By combining the classic British dress watch aesthetic with the paired back minimalism that’s so popular and effective in Swedish design, we’ve brought elements of each nation’s signature styles together to create one product that bridges both.
Your watches are popular with guys and girls. What is it about your designs that make them great unisex pieces?
The simplistic design, the lightweight feel and the high quality fabrics and materials make the watch both functional and easy to wear. Plus the 40mm case size of our classic ranges lend itself well to both men and women.
Canvas, leather or metal strap?
We couldn’t possibly choose. It really depends on the wearers aesthetic and style. The Larsson & Jennings watch case and dial is a mix of classic and contemporary so any of the strap categories work as long as you are you looking for a clean and uncomplicated watch.
If you could give one piece of advice on buying a watch it would be…
As well as looking for comfort and great design, the most important thing has to be good manufacture. Our watches are made with precision engineering in Switzerland so that they’re the best quality they can be at the current price point. At the end of the day it’s a functional item so it’s got to work as well as look stylish. We’re launching new watch styles later this year and look forward to sharing them with old and new customers.
Photo by Lucy Williams from Fashion Me Now
Markus Lupfer takes Liberty behind the scenes at his studio to talk us through his new range of exclusive designer scarves.
Renowned for his playful knitwear and jersey pieces, designer Markus Lupfer is a safe bet when it comes to bold, covetable designs. For his latest venture, he has created a collection of exclusive pieces that will sit in the Liberty scarf hall for Autumn/Winter 2014. We asked him to talk us through the collection, and the creative environment that houses his label.
How do you organise your work space? Talk us through your studio.
Our studio has three floors. Our first floor is the development floor where I work with pattern cutters and machinists on the new collections. We have all the fittings there and this is our hands-on creative floor. One floor above is the design area where we design the prints, knitwear, embroideries, fabrics etc. for both womenswear and menswear as well as footwear and eyewear. The next floor up is our business floor where all the logistics and production is organised from.
What’s on your studio walls/current mood board?
We are just finishing our Resort 2015 collection and the mood boards have modern tribal pictures on them.
What are your must-haves when designing?
Good happy music and a packet of wine gums.
What is your favourite part of the design process?
I love the part when fabrics are chosen and the designs are about to take shape. I love working on finishings and making sure that the garment looks expensive and nicely made.
Which one is more important: the process or the product?
To me it’s the product.
Do you have any quotes or mantras that you live your work life by?
Work hard but enjoy what you do.
You are well known for your knitwear and jerseys. How did you find designing scarves; was the process any different to designing womenswear?
I loved designing the scarves for our exclusive project with Liberty! It wasn’t much different than designing other womenswear products.
What was the inspiration behind your Liberty scarves?
The scarves are an extension of our Autumn/Winter 14/15 womenswear collection with which I wanted to do something British, but put my own spin on it. I was drawn to the humour and colour in the photography of Martin Parr, his love of ordinary British people and the attitude that his subjects provide.
How have you stamped your design personality onto this collection of scarves?
I wanted to design scarves with high quality that tell a story and possibly raise a smile or evoke a special positive feeling.
What was your first experience of Liberty?
The very first time I walked into Liberty I was in awe. I was and still am fascinated by the magnificent architecture of the historic building as well as the quality of all the beautifully designed products from all over the world. Liberty is always very inspiring after so many years I still love going to shop there.
Discover the exclusive collection of Markus Lupfer scarves in-store today, and available online soon!