From humble beginnings at London’s Brick Lane and Camden markets 6 years ago to an award winning brand synonymous with innovative, unique design, Emma Ware London has gradually rooted itself within the jewelry industry.
We have met the designer Emma Ware at White Bijoux in Milan in September 2016, curated by us, where she presented her new collection and we got even more passionate about her unique style that her pieces represent. Check out our interview with the designer where she reveals some interesting details about her work, green policy and the biggest issues working in this industry.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, studies and experiences that influenced you to become a jewelry designer?
I come from a family of artists, my Grandparents were mostly painters and makers, my mother a painter and father a printmaker so I grew up surrounded by colour, paints, brushes, ink, prints and encouragement. It seemed the normal thing to do so I went on to do a degree in Fine Arts. While studying I realized I didn’t want to work alone and became excited about photography and film making, particularly loving being behind a camera. After studying broadcasting I started my career in the camera department in film/TV and went on to work my way up the ladder. After about 7 years the excitement wore off and I realised I badly needed an outlet and creative freedom so I moved to a warehouse in East London and got into creating things to wear, the main motivation was to have fun. I was repurposing materials and transforming into a new object, it made sense environmentally and economically and meant I had to be more inventive with what was available.
I don’t want to do anything that has been done before, I don’t see the point, innovation is key for me.
How and when did you start making jewelry pieces? Why jewelry?
My mother bought me a jewellery making set when I was about 10 and it’s something I always came back to at different points in my life. I love that you can make something/anything from scratch sitting at a desk and feel amazing wearing it. The body is the best gallery, it’s a living, moving display. And being able to affect someone else’s life in however small a way, I love.
What is the concept behind your designs?
I don’t want to do anything that has been done before, I don’t see the point, innovation is key for me. Also it’s about the experience of wearing, how they feel, how if feels to wear, how it moves and you interact with it. My pieces are tactile and often can be worn in different ways. I see it as a collaboration when someone gets creative wearing my work, either by how it’s styled or how it is worn.
Where do you find inspiration? And what are your rituals to call the muses when they are not around?
The body is probably my starting point, I love how shapes reflect, draw attention to, outline, and play over the body’s curves and angles. I don’t start with an idea of how it will turn out, but maybe how I’d like to feel wearing it or how it will enhance the wearer. The material is often the inspiration. The more limited a material seems the better, within restrictions you have to be far more creative and really push the design process, that’s when you find a shape or form that you would never have been able to come up with straight away. Applying a process to a design and seeing what grows is very exciting.
I generally gather images, of jewelry, styling, cultural adornment and come back to these when designing. It’s also good to look around and see what other people are doing, just to remind yourself of different thought processes.
Tell us a little bit about your latest collection. Do you have a favorite piece?
Each collection tends to follow on from the last, there’s always a flow of inspiration that I have to nip in the bud until it’s time to design next. I tried to design this collection within certain production limits and it’s always a learning process so nothing is straightforward.
Equilibrium is all about contrast. I wanted to balance the bold black leather and its associations with a delicate elegant element. So these pieces can either give an edge to a pretty outfit or soften/decorate a more masculine look. Each piece for me has it’s own character, and I’m already excited about taking some of them to their next stage.
The Infinity hand piece is one of my favourites, it brings me over all astrological, think I’ll run with the space theme…
Tell us about your green policy and how you decided to include sustainability in your production processes? How important is it to maintain “slow fashion,” high-quality practices in an industry that is always demanding more?
It’s hard balancing making a living and trying not to contribute to polluting our environment as the greener way is pricier, but it’s the most important challenge facing us today and can’t be ignored. I think it’s about finding a balance between making the most of life and making an effort to do our best not to damage the environment. I started off repurposing materials that already existed, ie innertubes, now I source the most environmentally friendly materials where I can. And produce in house. I use biodegradable products as much as possible, packaging, etc.. Also drawing attention to sustainable practices is valuable, if we don’t discuss the issue people don’t realise there is one.
What are the greatest issues for you as a jewelry designer? And how do you deal with them?
- Lack of time/time management, not sure I deal with this, just always feel like I haven’t done enough.
- Balancing being creative and making a product that is commercially viable. I think designers become known when they start for doing interesting things but reign it in when they realise more ‘normal’ designs sell more.
- Being self employed and this work becoming your life. I force myself to work normal working hours, sticking to a routine.
- Scaling up, being able to make more without increasing production costs. Haven’t solved this one yet…
- Also trying not to contribute to damaging the environment, a constant worry.
Who are your customers, how would you describe them? Do you imagine a woman that would wear your pieces before designing them?
I love meeting my customers, virtually and face to face, it’s fascinating. They are individuals, a surprising range of ages and have an energy and inquisitiveness about them. My team! Yes I imagine who might wear my work when I’m designing, but also my designs imagine the woman, once I’ve designed a piece the person for it becomes clearer.
How do you see your brand in 5 years?
I’m building my brand in a way that works for me. I don’t want a faceless mass produced brand, I want to make special pieces for my clients and enjoy a personal experience. It’s balancing this and making it work financially. So as well as designing wearable yet unusual collections I’d like to do more bespoke work so I don’t have to restrict my creativity. A studio with a showroom/shopfront would be my dream, I want to be the go to brand for innovative adornment. I also have ideas to expand outside of wearable pieces into product design maybe collaborating with a footwear designer, milliner or bag designer.
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Emma Ware’s website: emmaware.co.uk