Having graduated with a degree in Fine Art from London’s Chelsea College of Art, Jessie Harris’ desire to create physical objects led her to jewellery.
These days, the clean, contemporary lines of Harris’ eponymous jewellery line link the past with the future, translating ancient symbols into modern product designs that could be described as minimal sculptures of art.
Adorn Jewellery Blog met up with Harris to talk inspirations, brand building and the challenges of keeping a secret!
Adorn Jewellery Blog: After graduating in Fine Art you transitioned to jewellery. Why?
Jessie Harris: There wasn’t so much a conscious decision to change medium, it happened quite slowly and fairly organically which gave me a good amount of space to develop my jewellery.
As much as I loved the work I was doing during my degree, my practice was largely computer based and I was desperate to create something physical again. There is also a very strong emphasis on the conceptual reasoning behind all the decisions you make in Fine Art and I wanted to create objects where the aesthetics and design are just as important. There was, and still is, an overlap of a conceptual influence for each collection though, something that is a definite continuation from my Fine Art practice.
AJB: Can you describe your design process?
JH: I try and work quite strategically, designing a collection and concept in full first, then going onto making prototypes and so on but as I am experiencing at the moment, there is definitely a lot of scope for change along the way!
Sometimes ideas you have might not be feasible, or a piece might not turn out how you envisage. This can be frustrating but equally it does often lead to creative problem solving, and to pieces that evolve to be the ones you are ultimately the happiest with.
AJB: The handmade finish that is a signature of your jewellery. Why is this important asset to you?
JH: I’ve always found a satisfaction from working really precisely and setting seemingly arbitrary restrictions and goals when making jewellery. The physical forms of my pieces are clean and minimal, but when hand carved from wax, they present an interesting predicament as these shapes are the hardest to create and almost impossible to make ‘perfect’.
I tend to create pieces where there isn’t a lot of detail to hide behind, and although I work with this aesthetic, this is what enables the handmade nature of the piece to be come through.
It would be easy to make a flawless piece on CAD, with every measurement exact and every surface flush but for me it’s important that you can see that a human hand is behind each piece.
AJB: Jessie Harris Jewellery has a clear style aesthetic and branding. Please elaborate on the connection that links product design with fashion, fine art and jewellery.
JH: I love that jewellery can straddle both the worlds of fashion and product design and maybe this is where my appreciation for branding comes from.
I really enjoy this element of having a label and how you can create such a strong sense of identity with branding. I think it is so important in capturing people’s attention and representing your aesthetic and ethos as a designer.
AJB: Your design reflects an interest in linking the past with the future. How do you see this evolving?
JH: This a concept that I’m really interested in because it manifests in something really exciting, visually. I’m intrigued by how futuristic design is influenced by shapes, motifs and symbols from the past. I wouldn’t want to restrict myself by only using this as an influence in the future but it does always seem to be relevant as a source of inspiration.
AJB: What’s next for Jessie Harris?
JH: I’ve been working on a collaborative collection with London handbag designer Danielle Foster where we’ve created some custom bag hardware and a small jewellery collection – this is coming out in the autumn. I’m also currently working on my second collection. I’m useless at keeping anything secret so there might be some sneak previews popping up over cyberspace soon!
Interview: Lauren Rowden