Here at The List, we’re ever-curious about the culture of design, so who better to survey about the field’s current state than those currently working at the top of it? In Need to Know, we pick the brains of best-in-class creatives to find out how they got to where they are today—and to share an insider’s perspective on the challenges and highlights of their particular perches in the design world.
Gina Love has taken the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.
While charting a successful career as a real estate lawyer in the Big Apple, Love couldn’t shake the nagging impulse to create. This longing never did cease—and after prolonged flirtation with photography blogging, Love dove headlong into a full-time creative career with PERYTON, her fine-leather handbag label.
Love’s adept melding of business strategy and artistry has proved to be fortuitous. And her ability to toe the line between the two realms has gravitated a new label into her orbit: AUVERE. The newest addition to Love’s creative portfolio, AUVERE is a line of fine jewelry made expressly of 22- and 24-karat gold.
Shared by both AUVERE and PERYTON is a “linear and architectural bent,” says Love, that harkens back to her architecture-adjacent foundation. Surface sat down with Love to discover why she cares so deeply about materiality, how she traversed disciplines, and advice for those looking to make a significant career switch.
You started your career path in a much different field. What was that experience like, and how did you arrive where you are today?
Before Peryton and Auvere, I was a real estate lawyer in two large international firms for a significant period of time. But I have been a creator of things and processes for as long as I can remember.
The transition from being a lawyer to a leather goods and jewelry designer was definitely a winding one. I did not realize it then, but now I can see that the transition started when I delved into a childhood love for photography, which coincided with the emergence of “the blog” phenomenon. I ran my photography blogs—The Photodiarist, and its sister blog, The Photodiarist in Color—for five years, from 2009 to 2013.
Photography helped me to re-engage with my creative impulses, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to make something more tangible. So I took night and weekend classes at Parsons in branding, design, and pattern-making. Not long after that, I created Peryton, which is my fine leather goods brand.
Sometime in 2016, my boyfriend (now fiancé), Steven Feldman, approached me with an idea to make modern, sculptural jewelry from investment grade 22- and 24-karat gold. Steven had previously co-founded a precious metals investment platform and saw this as an opportunity to do something different and compelling in the jewelry space. I loved the concept, but at that time he raised it with me, I was stretched pretty thin, practicing law and working on Peryton. But I could not resist the idea of creating something with Steven. I knew that it was time to leave the practice of law; I retired from law in April 2017. We launched Auvere.com in beta in October 2017 and then relaunched the website to the public in April 2018.
Law and design have seemingly little in common. But one of the threads that ties my law career and my design career together is the love of building things. When I was a real estate lawyer, I relished the fact that my work contributed to the construction of real estate projects. But that contribution pales in comparison to building your own company and brand from scratch.
Let’s talk about materiality, which is an integral part of both Peryton and Auvere.
I believe that a good foundation supports sustained elevation. That is the case in most things humans do or create—whether in the pursuit of higher education, or in the construction of a 40-story skyscraper. For me, high quality materials are the foundation of beautiful things. My designs highlight the materials. Moreover, the better the materials, the longer they last and the more one is inspired to wear the item—whether a Peryton bag or an Auvere ring. I want to make things that age gracefully and maintain their allure over a long period of time.
So what does “good foundation” mean for Peryton? Beautiful leathers. We source our calfskin leather leather from a tannery in France owned by Hermès. We obtain our American Alligator from American Tanning—a fourth-generation family operated business located in Georgia. The beauty of the leather dictates certain design decisions: For example, we’re [able to] limit the use of hardware that’s needed for the bag to function properly.
For Auvere, the foundation is high-karat gold—22k and 24k. 22-karat gold is almost 92 percent pure gold; 24k gold is 99.99 percent pure gold. Yes, purer gold is softer. But paired with bold and architectural design that takes that characteristic into account, 22k and 24k gold are still strong enough to make pieces that last. Our customers appreciate the benefit of these pieces—adornment meets investment.
Another touchpoint for both brands is craftsmanship. Speak to how this is a thread between both brands.
For both Peryton and Auvere, the foundation is the raw material. But the designer and the builder are critical parts of the process. Raw materials are transformed by the designer and the craftsman into a product, but raw materials are not powerless in the process. They, too, constrain and transform the design. The push and pull among the materials, designer and the builder is the challenge and joy of the design process. Working with an excellent craftsperson is critical. But it is almost as important to find a craftsperson who appreciates your design portfolio and gets what you are trying to accomplish. In both Peryton and Auvere, I work with extremely talented people who have helped me to navigate the constraints of the materials in order to realize the best version of my designs.
What, if any, advice do you have for young folks in the field—particularly if they’re looking to change career paths entirely?
1. Passion eats practical for lunch. No matter how long you avoid it, the activities about which you feel the most love (your passion) eventually take over your life trajectory and career goals. Embrace it. Otherwise, it will stalk you.
2. But don’t diminish the practical. Use practical to support passion because the pursuit of passion depletes resources—time and money—and often takes time to show return on investment. Don’t feel guilty about working a “regular” day job.
3. Business is hard. All you can control is the level of effort, discipline, creativity, and good judgment you apply to your work. Whether good or bad, the results take care of themselves. Passion can become the victim of an unhealthy obsession with results, and a definition of success that is not your own.