Designer interview

De Anna Kiernan

For designer De Anna Kiernan, jewelry is where her interests in design and creation converge. Raised in Bermuda, Kiernan began an apprenticeship in jewelry design at age 17. Her passion for travel led her to London, where she studied architecture at Central Saint Martins. De Anna loved design, but found that she missed the hands-on work of jewelry making. Launched in 2011, De Anna Kiernan Jewellery is known for clean, graphic statement pieces inspired by the hard edges of modernist architecture mixed with the softness of the female form. Learn more about this modern brand, which already has the celebrity seal of approval.

Hello De Anna – can you please tell us a little more about yourself?

I grew up on a small island surrounded by natural beauty. Living in Bermuda was a wonderful experience and is where my passion for jewelry began, but growing up in such a small place made me want to travel and experience life in a big city which is why I moved to London to study. My creative journey through university in London and my travels have all influenced my work and style as a designer. I currently live in London and work from my Clerkenwell studio in the heart of the jewelry quarter.

When did you know you wanted to become a jewelry designer?

From an early age I had a paintbrush in my hand. I was always painting or drawing or building something and I think I always knew I would be working in art and design but I just wasn’t certain which area.

At seventeen I had the opportunity to train with a prestigious jewelry company in Bermuda and began my jewelry apprenticeship. Here I trained under two exceptional jewelers, gaining invaluable technical skills.

Being young I wanted to travel and explore other areas of design, which led me to London a few years later where I studied at Central Saint Martins, completing an architecture degree. I soon realized that jewelry was the area of design I wanted to be working in as I missed the very hands on nature of designing and making that jewelry allows. I then completed the jewelry MA at The Cass and it was during my MA that I developed my first independent collection. I then worked for a large jewelry brand where I was able to experience the commercial side of the industry. Shortly after this I decided I had the tools and skills in place to go out on my own and De Anna Kiernan Jewellery was formed in 2011!

Can you please tell us about the design process of your jewelry?

My work is greatly influenced by the geometries of modernist architecture and the natural contours of the female form and looking at how to harmoniously combine the two.

The beginning of a new collection can come from a small detail in a building that intrigues me and then working out how I can relate this to the natural contours of the body is where it all begins. The line and how the eye follows the line is key, so how a piece fits the body in a very specific way is important or how the play with angles and light creates a visual illusion. I usually start with sketches, then maquettes and drawings directly on the body. These are then refined and translated into beautiful jewelry!

I work in a number of materials from gold to brass. I was trained as a goldsmith and love the ease and malleability of gold. With the current state of the economy, I have had to be more creative with the materials I use to achieve my large-scale designs. This has resulted in refined production processes, from industrial finishes such as powder coating to cast brass.

What sort of creative challenges do you face?

Sitting down to begin the design process for a new collection never happens when I plan it. I always have a stream of ideas in my sketchbook but discovering the essence of an idea is where a collection really starts for me. Sometimes that moment hits when I’m at an art exhibition, walking home or just daydreaming! From here it’s all about exploring my ideas in 3D through drawings (on the body) and maquettes. It’s finding the creative solutions to translate an idea into a wearable object that is where the design develops into the finished piece.

Why do you find modernist architecture and the female form so inspiring?

I’m drawn by the striking geometries and play with light found in examples of modernist architecture. I love its visual power and presence and in contrast the soft subtle lines of the natural contours or the body, and the sensuality they evoke. The combination and contrast with the sharp and bold, the soft and subtle lines and finding just the right balance of both is integral to my designs.

When you were setting up your brand, what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

As a creative I could quite happily sit in my study all day, every day making and designing beautiful jewelry but I have to balance this with the business side of the brand, which has been a learning curve. I have been very lucky though in gaining support from industry professionals and colleagues in the jewelry industry.

Who is the De Anna Kiernan customer?

My clients are both men and women, but mostly women, ranging in age from early 20s-60+. Because my jewelry is bold yet elegant, I think women of various age groups enjoy wearing it. The women who wear my jewelry are looking for something unique and love to make a statement. Celebrity clients to date include Rita Ora and Kim Kardashian.

Please tell us about your favorite De Anna Kiernan piece.

The Gold Curve Cocktail Ring. I wear this ring everyday! I love its versatility with just the right balance of glam and edgy cool, I can wear it with anything from jeans to my little black dress for a night out on the town.

You are based in London – where do you like to spend your free time?

I moved to London nearly 10 years ago and I’m still discovering new favorite areas to enjoy and explore. But at the moment I would have to say I love the cafés and tree-lined streets of Maida Vale. Sitting al fresco with a latte and my sketchbook in Little Venice is the perfect afternoon for me!

I love shopping for anything that is beautifully designed from the mug I drink my coffee from, the lighting in my living room to the watering can in my garden so I very much enjoy the Design Museum shop, Conran, Design House Stockholm, Selfridges' design room and the list goes on and on. I also love a great vintage bargain on eBay!

See more from De Anna Kiernan Jewellery

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De Anna Kiernan De Anna Kiernan Geometric Ring Gold curve necklace Curve Cocktail Ring Gold Pendant Dewdrop earrings Black Quill Earrings Black quill curve necklace

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