THE LIST

Meet the Korean Designer Who Makes Shapeshifting Jewelry

Kimy Gringoire creates elegant, everyday accessories in unexpected forms that can be fitted to a wearer’s whims.

A Pera Vena earring from the Tropic Topic collection. (Photo: Reto Smith)

Kimy Gringoire started creating jewelry in the likeness of what she wanted to wear. Today, the Korean-born, Belgium-raised designer behind the line Kim Mee Hye tempers elegance with playfulness, creating pieces that flirt with a wearer’s form: each features sophisticated little mechanisms that allow for various ways of being worn. It’s the long lines and complementary yet contrasting shapes that catch the eye, while precious gold and diamonds simply shine, without pomp. Made by hand in Belgium, Gringoires collections liberate sumptuous accessories from convention while making space for individual style. Gringoire talked to Surface about her approach on design, and the continued evolution of her work.

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Blossom Topic ring from the Blossom collection; Blossom Earring. (Photo: Victor Pattyn)

Give us a brief overview of Kim Mee Hye’s history.
Kim Me Hee is based on my desire to create jewelry for women who want to be free to express their personalities. When I started the company, in 2014, I saw an opportunity to [redefine] what luxury looks like. I created pieces with mechanisms that allow wearers to expose the diamonds in different ways, revealing a hidden message.  Last year, I decided to bring new shapes into the collections with hidden attachments that allow the pieces to “float” on the body. With the Foyer collection, the idea was to reshape the ear by adding a new layer. With the Tropic Topic, I wanted to play with curves and lines in a way that would suggest tropical creatures. The through-line of my collections is the way I design them: finding the right balance between a curve and a line obsesses me.

What’s the driving force behind your work?
I see jewelry design as an ongoing process of bringing something new, clever, and bold that stands out. I think it is important to elevate the designs season after season through new ideas and perspectives. I really try to blur the lines of luxury and design by playing with timeless materials and giving the pieces new lives by allowing women to control the way they wear their diamonds. In the past, jewelry was a symbol of glamour. Today it can reveal our personalities and make us feel empowered.

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Open Your Heart earring. (Photo: Sofie and Maarten)

What does good design mean to you?
Good design, in this industry, means challenging the nobility of “fine jewelry” by making new shapes that respect the curves of the body. This requires not just good design, but design that suits the body and can be worn every day. As Dieter Rams said, “Good design is as little design as possible.” Less, but better—you concentrate on the essential aspects of the pieces. My products are not burdened with non-essentials; we focus on purity and simplicity.

What are you working on now?
The Blossom Topic Collection just launched. For this collection, I wanted to realize a universe built on the beauty of a flower—without designing an obvious flower. I always say that it is very important to bring elements from other contexts that are not related to jewelry. That makes [my designs] much more innovative and fresh. I play with petals made of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and even some large stones, with stems made of 18-karat gold.  The flowers float on the body as if they were suspended in an imaginary garden.

Openable Large Cross from the Engagement collection.
Single and Double Swing knuckle rings.
Handcuff from the Engagement collection.
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