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.
We spoke to florist and owner of the luxury fragrance candles, Timothy Dunn, during his table arrangement master class at Get Creative about creating a home ambiance, his new scented candles, and his favourite things about Liberty.
As we tend to spend a lot more time indoors during the autumn and winter months, it’s important to create a beautiful and inviting home ambiance that you want to be in. Timothy says,
“I try to create warmth in fragrance, so you want something that’s really cosy.”
Having been driven inside by the poor weather, you want it to be cosy and smelling delicious. Timothy suggests his all-time favourite candle: Samarkand. Filled with a bucketful of aromatic flavours, Samarkand is essentially a fragrance of spicy wood with exotic tea including cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon, enveloped in Madagascan vanilla with musks, frankincense and more. As you can see from listing just a few of the ingredients, a lot of time and precision has been put towards choosing these exotic elements to create each desired aroma.
Expert advice on picking your luxury candle:
“Everyone’s got different tastes; I always look at the interior and décor of people’s places before I would decide what they’re going to go in with. It’s personal, I’m biased of course; I think you should have one of my candles in your house.”
Timothy has a new luxury candle coming out around Christmas time that will also be available all year round called Myrrh Imperial. It’s dark amber base with myrrh oil, black violet, crystal musk and dark truffle to name a few, create a scent that is desirably edible.
“It’s so beautiful; it’s one of those fragrances that you would like to eat it with a spoon.
(Myrrh Imperial) is very, very different, very warm. It’s one of those fragrances that you’ll pick it up and you’ll love it, it’s not one that grows on you. It’s like Marmite, you either like it or you don’t.”
However, besides the deliciously edible scent, this candle features a precious metal covering over the glass encasing, in this case copper. It’s an addition the company have been perfecting for the last two to three years and include gold, platinum and rose gold.
Timothy Dunn have another candle made in collaboration with Take That singer, Gary Barlow, that is yet to be launched. It’s called 220, after the flower shop Timothy owned in Fulham where his career began.
It’s important around Christmas to bring light and warmth into your homes, and the natural scents that jump to mind are orange and cinnamon, but Timothy’s suggestions are to embrace new flavours all year round, particularly at Christmas.
“Everyone thinks that Christmas is cinnamon and orange, and that’s so boring. We’ve got so many more ingredients that are available to you, you just need a little bit of imagination, to come up with something that’s slightly different.”
We wanted to know what was on Timothy’s wish list from Liberty and his immediate response was, “Well I don’t wear them but I love your scarves.” But ultimately, Timothy would love to do a Liberty candle, encompassing the ethos of the store, from the building and the time it was built, to create a candle for Liberty.
“I wanted to take an iconic Liberty print and cover the box in the print and the glass as well. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things we’ve got to get by (for this to happen).”
After further discussion, it seems Timothy can’t get enough of Liberty!
“The key for me, Liberty, compared to a lot of other people, and people that know me: is the staff, you’ve got great staff.
But I’m in love with your fragrance section downstairs actually, and I love the tea room, but I just love the general atmosphere of the whole store
You talk to people in America, everywhere; Liberty is, for a smaller store, it’s not Harrods or one of those big machines: it’s a store for everybody. It’s never changed from the day it opened: it’s still got that same feel about it, still got that same look, and their ethos of what they do is the same.”
During the table arrangement class, Timothy discussed floral arrangements and centring your perfume candle. Try pairing musky and spicy flavours with warm-coloured flowers, and vanilla and rose with white flowers.
After the class, winners were chosen at random to take home the arrangements!
Keep an eye out for Timothy Dunn’s new fragrant candle, Myrrh Imperial, in-store later in the year, and 220, made in collaboration with Gary Barlow. You can also browse Timothy Dunn‘s range in-store or online.
This year, Get creative at Liberty has a whole range of customisable Liberty print accessories, ideal for gifts or adding a personal touch to your own collection.
Iphis customising with Virgina Ben
If you’re yet to invest in a piece from the Liberty London iphis collection, make sure you place an order this weekend for the chance to have it customised by the brilliant Virgina Ben. Monogramming will be on offer, as well as the chance to commission a totally unique, painted piece.
Liberty print stationery monogramming
Make sure your note-taking is up to scratch with a personalised notebook or journal. These smart leather pieces are only enhanced with gold or silver-stamped lettering. An ideal seasonal gift for those shopping ahead, or simply the best way to make an impeccable first impression in the boardroom.
Flowers of Liberty charm bracelets
These pretty bracelets are a must-have at the best of times, but lucky customers at the event on Friday had the chance to add a Nadia Minkoff charm or two. Shoppers chose from crystals and quirky charms to create the perfect gift or colourful addition to a bracelet stack. If you missed out on Friday, don’t forget you can shop the collection of Flowers of Liberty bracelets online.
Current/Elliott patchwork denim
If you’ve ever had the urge to jazz up your old denim (or invest in a totally unique new pair) then this is the event for you. Talented seamstresses from Sew Over It will be in residence all weekend in-store on the 1st floor to add monogramming and Liberty print patchwork to your Current/Elliott jeans. A brilliant way to give your wardrobe a timely pick-me-up.
If you’re coming down to Get Creative share your purchases and personalised creations @LibertyLondon using #GetCreative
Last month we met Baker & Bray at the Liberty open call. Following the success of their presentation, they are popping in to our Get Creative event with their Liberty print dog accessories.
We caught up with co-founder Richard Thurlby to get the inside track on the latest in canine fashion and of course, all things liberty print. If you’re planning on coming down today make sure you bring your pooch along, small dogs are welcome in the Liberty store.
What are you bringing to Get Creative?
I’ll be going to Get Creative with one of my tailoring ladies, Shushan, who will be helping me out in the store. My trusty dog mannequins – Charles (a Chihuahua) and Arthur (Belgian Vizsla) – will be given the weighty job of standing still all day modelling the jackets and bandanas!
I’ll mostly be showing a selection of moleskin and Liberty inspired tailored hooded jackets and trench coats with a variety of double sized Liberty bandanas. Coming along for the ride (and perhaps to steal the show) are my Boston terriers Milo & Rocco, of course wearing Baker & Bray.
How has your business grown since Best of British?
Ed Burstell was the first person (besides my friends) who I had shown my products to and the response was overwhelming. Ever since the Open Call things have been moving very fast with the business. Very exciting for me!
How did your Liberty print/canine collection come about?
When I first started thinking seriously about going into dog tailoring last September, I bought myself a sewing machine to teach myself to sew. My grandmother who made dog jackets inspired me, so I thought I’d try it myself. The first thing I made was a bandana and went to Liberty to choose some of their amazing prints. I daresay the quality of my sewing was not terribly good, but I feel in love with the prints and the bandanas very adorable.When I was accepted to take part in the Open Call, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to use the Liberty prints again and I really love the jackets that I created.
What’s your favourite Liberty print?
That’s a difficult one, there are so many amazing ones to choose from. I think I’d have to say the Seth Rankin series though – one of the jackets I did for the Open Call was a Seth Rankin Trench and even after the others I’ve been making, this is still the pattern I’m most drawn to.
Do you have any famous doggy style icons?
No I don’t actually – there’s obviously a place needing to be filled by a doggy style icon! Maybe wearing Baker & Bray hopefully?
Do you have a favourite department at Liberty?
It would have to be the fabrics department as I’ve spent quite a lot of time in there! I really love the homeware section as well – I’m an avid cook so love to look around in there and get inspiration.
What’s in store for Baker & Bray?
Most immediately, the launch of the website and hopefully making some sales. Then I’ll start to produce different designs and also a knitwear collection.
Currently going into production this week is a small range of collars and leads, including some in Iguana which are quite unique.
If you come down to GetCreative this weekend make sure to send us a picture of your pooch at @LibertyLondon