An Androgynous Aesthetic: A Conversation with Jewelry Designer Laura Lombardi

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When I met jewelry designer Laura Lombardi last month at the Dose Market, we discussed whether men or women were more drawn to her androgynous pieces. I also discovered she had roots in New York City and admired her body art. I still had questions for Lombardi, whose work has been admired in just about every women’s mag—from Martha Stewart Living to Bust—so I followed up with her via email.

How does a piece go from the sketchbook (if there is one) to physical construction?
My process in art and design has always revolved around appropriation. I’m inspired by the material I work with; usually my ideas start to form as I am sourcing vintage material. Once I have made my selections and get back to the studio, I spend equal time sketching and playing around with different components until they start to make sense together. After these initial steps, I construct the final sample.
 
Why Chicago? You are from New York City, and you attended the School of Visual Arts in New York. What led you to the Midwest?
After high school, when I took pre-college classes at SVA and the Fashion Institute of Technology, I had a brief stint at college in Boston. I was torn between moving back to New York and going somewhere else and trying something new. My initial intention was to transfer to School of the Art Institute here in Chicago, but instead ended up focusing heavily on making jewelry once I moved here. From there things with my line started to progress very quickly. Chicago has proven to be a great fit for me and my brand.
Where do you find inspiration for your pieces, which all exude a Lower East Side cool to them?
There are general themes that I have always been inspired by, such as religious objects and imagery, pattern and repetition, etc., but I hone in on a specific source of inspiration for each collection. For example, my upcoming Fall 2012 Collection was inspired by palaces in Tuscany, specifically the Medici Palaces and the dichotomy between opulence and vacancy.
 
Where do you source your metal?
I source my metal and components from various distributors who specialize in deadstock vintage materials. One of my favorite parts of my process is traveling to source new materials. (Jenny Yoon)
Laura Lombardi Jewelry, lauratlombardi.com

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