Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Occupation: Jewelry designer, curator.
Hometown: Kinderhook, NY.
Studio location: Germantown, NY, and Block Island, RI.
Describe what you make: Jewelry out of gold wire, imperfect stones, organic pearls, and minerally included diamonds. Pieces that are asymmetrical, uneven, and allow light to pass through, creating a sense of buoyancy. Work that pays homage to my mentor Kazuko Oshima, as well as Alexander Calder. Things that remind you of a poignant place or a series of artwork that sticks out in your mind.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: For my first few pieces, I didn’t have many materials or tools: wire, baroque pearls, beads, a hammer, pliers, a file, a drill, and a steel block. Designing within these constraints, I made very rudimentary earrings, a cuff bracelet, a long necklace, and a bead ring. Given the simplicity and minimal requirements, I found I could make jewelry anywhere and, more importantly, teach others with good hands how to make it without a ton of experience. Understanding this principle—that I don’t need much in order to create—has been incredibly freeing and allowed the evolution of my material and color choices to become the real focal point of the work. Sort of radical for jewelry design!
Describe the problem your work solves: Being able to teach people firsthand how to make my designs has created a community beyond my dreams. I adore our close-knit team and dare say it shows in our work.
Describe the project you are working on now: I’m getting married this October, so I’m creating pieces for my friends and family as gifts for all of their help. I enjoy making pieces with a specific person in mind and how I might translate and complement their character.
A collection of one-of-a-kind engagement rings centered around untreated Montana sapphires, green and blue tourmalines, and minerally included diamonds. The rings really speak to a connection to the landscape—the ocean, the mountains, the clouds—something many couples value as a pillar in their relationship and want to acknowledge.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: My mother, photographer Susan Paulsen, has been urging me to come up with a men’s line for years. We’ve collected beads and stones during our trips to the Tucson Gem Show, always with the intention, “Wouldn’t this be great for the men’s line?” Made with hefty sterling silver, lapis, pyrite, ceruleite, bronzite, and black Tahitian pearls, the forthcoming men’s line will be named “Paulsen” after my mother and launches this November.
What you absolutely must have in your studio: I have a printout of Matisse’s line drawing, “Mademoiselle Yvonne Landsberg,” and a pencil drawing of my dog Ande by our studio assistant Serena above my work bench. There’s also a landscape painting by Colleen Herman and a drawing of body parts (or vegetables? Or both?) by Kiki Smith. I feel like they all look over us and probably even talk to each other at night when we’re not there.
Our production team is fueled by popcorn, Dandy Blend (a mix of dandelion and chicory root as a coffee alternative), five studio dogs, and a rotating set of playlists by each of us. A must during the day—leaving for a trail walk.
What you do when you’re not working: Exercising outside, spending time with my partner Terrence and our two dogs, cooking, and looking for a new, quiet place to travel in January.
Sources of creative envy: Sophie Taeuber-Arp. She was a painter, sculptor, textile, jewelry, furniture, interior designer, architect, and dancer. Her ability to move between mediums, embrace each outlet with an assured sense of understanding, and then figure out how to articulate a playful feeling through each… is astounding. Not to mention her sense of color!
The distraction you want to eliminate: Option paralysis. I’d like to get rid of my computer some days too.
Concrete or marble? Concrete in the home, marble in the studio.
High-rise or townhouse? A house in a field.
Remember or forget? Always aspiring to remember more.
Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts. I’m an old soul.
Dark or light? Sunlight with shadows.