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In the studio: Loveness Lee

05.03.20

Loveness Lee is a contemporary British jewellery brand for women with a daring attitude to style. The jewellery is handmade in London using altered, ancient jewellery techniques and traditions.

The woman behind the brand, Loveness Lee is a London-based contemporary jeweller. She developed her signature style and craft at Middlesex University followed by a Master’s degree at the renowned The Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture & Design (CASS), London Metropolitan University. Fusing together influences from nature and science, alongside a yearning to mix up traditional jewellery techniques, Loveness Lee has created a distinctly statement jewellery collection, unique in style and full of intrigue. We caught up with the designer to find out more about her work and process.

When did you first make jewellery?
I was initially introduced to Jewellery design in 2009 when I first came to London to do my Art Foundation year at Central Saint Martins. I have developed a huge interest in science, especially chemistry, since I was very young. I became an oil painter, mainly abstract – strongly influenced by my architect mother. Becoming a jewellery designer, I can have the best of both disciplines; I get to experiment with materials like a scientist and design beautiful jewellery like an artist. I am able to transform abstract art into something tangible and 3D for more people to enjoy, this allowed me to be lucky enough to do what I love when I built my brand, Loveness Lee.

How do you approach a new piece?
My passion for materials has led me to experiment with different types in order to investigate the interplay between materials and design in jewellery. Since starting my brand – Loveness Lee, I have truly understood materials without using design to limit the potential of materials, let the properties of the materials dictate the design. Nature is the best designer, it has designed the most interesting textures, colours and shapes. By collaborating with nature I was able to use those design in my jewellery.

Talk a bit about some of the process you use. How do you create a piece of jewellery from start to finish?
Each piece is inspired by a natural and serendipitously-formed shape or texture. An example of this process would be the Darya earrings which are modelled from a paper-clay substrate that creates beautiful undulating folds. The silicone moulding techniques we use at Loveness Lee delicately recreates the beauty and intricate patterns of Darya’s original paper-clay, whilst also forming their bolder formations and shapes. These moulds are then injected with wax, with the resulting casts being meticulously refined in order to highlight the graceful natural forms within. The wax pieces go on to be individually cast in sterling silver, and then go through a series of hand-worked-procedures; cutting, filing, drilling and soldering on the earrings posts. Before being sent to the Assay office for Hallmarking, and London’s Hatton Garden for gold plating, All pieces need to be cleaned in a special bath to remove oxidisation, and then polished using a rotary tumbler.

Your practice centres around ‘creating jewellery that is art’, could you talk bit more about this?
I like to create jewellery that is a form of art. Jewellery is a channel and way to translate what I see day to day to a tangible art form. The world through my eyes are vibrantly colourful, formed by interesting shapes and covered in amazing textures. In a way my jewellery is mini interpretation of my world. The world that surrounds me intrigues and inspires me everyday, and I have so much fun creating my imaginary world. I’d like to transform my passion for art via jewellery and let the whole world to see.

Can you tell us any interesting stories behind any of the designs?
My latest collection – Cactus Collection, came about as a happy accident when my colleague was travelling around Morocco. Knowing me and my love for natural forms too well, he found and collected a series of cactus skeletons which have textures and patterns from beneath the cactus plant: below its rough exterior, the cactus plant conceals ancient structures and organic systems, this foundation conveys my cactus collection. When he brought them back for me I knew I had to translate their beautiful textures into jewellery!

What’s your opinion on trends? What trends are you drawn to in contemporary jewellery?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am drawn to any particular trend. I like to think that a Loveness Lee woman is strong and independent and has a daring attitude to style. She is unique in her own way and not scared to be different. I want my wearers to feel powerful and see themselves as the trend-setters! My jewellery can act as a tool of confidence for my customers. Because it is so bold, it’s perfect for anyone who wants to make a statement. So I guess anything that empowers people and gives a positive impact on the way the wearer feels is the best trend!

What’s your workspace like?
People often say that walking into my shop is like walking straight into my imagination. I have channeled my style here by creating a wonderland of abstract textures and accents of vibrant colours. The Oxo Tower Wharf’s overall industrial aesthetic gave us lot’s to work with when renovating. I particularly love the existing pipes going across the top of the shop, which we painted black to stand out against our natural feel ceiling. I also appreciate the contrast between the cave-like walls, and industrial tools on display. My main aim when designing the shop was to create a space that would take my customers on a journey from design inspiration, to the handmaking process to the final piece. Oxo Tower Wharf’s unique designer/maker incorporation aspect allows us to have our workshop space within the retail store. This means that our customers are given a deeper insight into our processes, I think there is something about this that makes people feel more involved.

What inspires you?
Serendipity plays a big part in my design process as the organic shapes, colours and textures – although consistently recognisable – cannot be predetermined. The ‘Trans-natural’ concept behind my jewellery is envisaged from a collaboration between nature, science and art working in unison. The world around me intrigues and inspires me everyday, and I have so much fun creating my imaginary world via the tangible format of jewellery. I want to bring customers the same sense of awe and excitement that our team feel making each item by hand in the workshop. Each piece is made for people to experience the beauty and wonderment felt only when enveloped by nature.

What would be your dream project?
One thing I have always been interested in doing is collaborating with architects on a project which celebrates the man made industrial aspects of many buildings, especially in the city. Combining this with my natural shapes and textures on a large scale in a sculptural form.

What’s next for you?
Mainly I am working towards perfecting our existing space at Oxo Tower Wharf and taking full advantage of the fantastic location, here on the Southbank. Being right on the river allows us to be at the heart of London and on the path to many nearby tourist attractions, meaning we get a really broad audience of people from all over the world. We are continuing to release two new collections every year. Each is just as exciting for us to create as the last, so I’d say that we constantly working towards creating new and exciting pieces of jewellery that we all love!

Loveness’ work and shop can be found at Oxo Tower Wharf (First Floor Riverside, 1.04 Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, SE1 9PH, London, UK) as well as on her website.

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