Vancouverite Karen La cites Josef Alber as an influence in her jewelry design which could be described more minimal art than fashion accessory. Working primarily with silver and color resin, each piece is sculptural, simple, and translates well into any style. We met up with Karen to take a peak at the pieces in her latest collection and talk about her typical day as a jewelry designer. Check out Karenn.La to see her entire line!
What’s your background?
I did far too much schooling. I did my BFA in visual arts and eventually obtained a technical jewelry art diploma afterwards. I could have never predicted that I would end up making jewelry for a living. The story goes: during my undergrad I worked at a very touristy gift shop; the kind that only sold Jade related paraphernalia. During the off season I would make simple beaded jewelry to sell in the store. I found myself enjoying the minuscule task and time seemingly evaporated, so naturally I decided to investigate further.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My fixation on the simplified forms exercised by those known as the key figures of the minimalist art movement undoubtedly have informed my practice. I also can’t deny the immense impact that Josef Albers has had on my understanding of composition, form and colour. He is truly my first love, buy my inspiration exceeds the niche realm of western high art. Living in and absorbing our post-internet era, it is inevitable that I notice aesthetic trends, what people are fetishizing, what women are wearing, what architecture details are recurring. It all serves as point of inspiration.
Who are your style icons?
I grew up in the decade where Uncle Jesse was the ultimate heart throb. I followed Full House religiously and in effect feel as if I grew up with the whole clan. From the moment Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen graced my television screen to now owning their own fashion empire, they will forever be my style icons.
What’s your typical day like?
I used to have a proper 9-5 schedule where I was accountable for my time, so I’m still trying to find some sort of balance between a regulated work day and a completely unregulated one. Most days I get to the studio around noon and make jewelry until 6. I spend mornings drinking coffee, meandering on the internet, answering emails, looking at blogs, that sort of thing. Some days I have to venture to Manhattan and brave the Diamond District to get supplies. Those days aren’t so leisurely.
What are your favorite spots in Brooklyn?
There are SO many I don’t even know where to begin. I’m currently living in South Williamsburg which is solely made up of a zillion restaurants. I truly don’t understand how they all stay in business. My favorite restaurant is Pokito. It’s intimate, thoughtfully designed and has sea foam green signage. Coffee is another essential. Freehold would be my place of choice. It’s large and great for meetings. Food and coffee aside, Mociun is a wonderful gem of a store. Their curation is so on point.
What’s your favorite piece of jewelry that you own?
Oddly enough I don’t own any jewelry besides my own. I use to have a collection of thrifted and vintage jewelry, but with the attempt of making my life easier to transport from coast to coast and generally abiding to the minimalist ideology I don’t own much. I don’t know I can answer which piece of jewelry from my collections is my favorite. I think they all have their moments.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in building your own brand?
Lessons, I’ve learnt a few. I’ve learnt that it truly is a process of trial and error and that it is a process which takes time and the notion of fifteen minutes of fame although alluring isn’t sustainable. But, ultimately to make business decisions that are ethical, have integrity and you feel good making.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
‘Try Again’ – Dariuz
Photography by Alysha Rainwaters