Feature – Smith/Grey

Another excerpt from the 3rd Issue of BizarreBeyondBelief here. Undoubtedly two of our favourite jewelers in the the world, Smith/Grey.

BizarreBeyondBelief: Considering the two of you born and raised in completely different cities, how did
Smith/Grey meet and form?

Smith/Grey: We first meet in Copenhagen, Denmark where we worked at a design agency on various creative projects. While Birgit later on went back to Vienna to finish her Architecture degree and work in the industry, Sofus ventured out to Vancouver to study Visual Effects for the Film industry. After that we ended up living in London where Birgit attended the Royal College of Art to gain an MA in Jewellery Design and Sofus working in the Film industry. After lots of conversations and exchange we began to develop jewelry design concepts together. It felt like a natural move as we are other inspired by each others ideas and approaches.

BBB: Considering Grey was coming from an entirely different back ground from jewelry making (graphic design and film), what was the turning point or pivotal moment in your career which led you along the jewelry path?

Grey: It was not about leaving one medium for another but rather extending the canvas that I use for storytelling and jewellery. It is indeed a different medium to work with but the challenges are extremely interesting and something I am excited to continue to work with.

BBB: The group is based in London, how would you describe its fashion and accessory scene?

Grey: In short; vast. London is dynamic and full of ‘pockets’ where cultures and scenes can grow which makes it a tremendously interesting and engaging city to live and work in. This diversity is a great nourishment for our many interests and inspirations.
Smith: It’s a city that thrives on its diverse mixture of inhabitants which is very, very powerful. However to me it sometimes also seems way to fast paced and superficial to a degree, so it’s vital to skim through the huge mass of work carefully.

BBB: As creative types, it’s understood that most individuals have a particular way of working, how would you describe the creative process as a duo? 

S/G: We each have our own interests and fascinations which we explore. Once an idea is cultivated to a specific point we then introduce them to each other. From there on it is a back-and-forth between us to formulate the idea and to create the designs and supporting material.

BBB: Because of this dynamic does it make the process easier or more difficult?

S/G: Both actually; because one idea might resonate equally interesting with both of us and other ideas might be too distance for the other’s frame of mind. It’s a tough question to answer as it creates a completely different way of working. In a way I think it makes things easier as one can bounce back and forth ideas and therefor decisions and results are seen quicker.

BBB: Due to the intricacies of your craft, how much attention and time would you say goes into designing and creating each piece?

S/G: Once the idea has settled and the final design sketches are done we do samples of the pieces. Depending on the design these are made by hand using traditional wax carving techniques or digitally modelled and then 3D printed in wax. These initial wax models are cast, finished off, moulded, waxed and the cast again before being finished off again. It’s actually quite a long process that requires many small steps to get to the final piece. This design phase might be straight forward and other times it is an iterative process to make the design stand out. It’s often surprising to see that simpler designs take longer to be perfected than complex shapes. When it comes to the final production of the pieces there is a strict set of quality control on each individual piece prior to dispatch.

BBB: The company works in both male and female jewelry, is there one sex in particular that is more difficult to create for?

Grey: Both sexes have their challenges. Men and women do not wear jewelry the same way and designing for them is not the same either. But both like to know the inspiration and stories behind a piece.
Smith: I think it makes it easier that we both represent a sex and therefor understand what both women and men want. For me it would be hard to solely create men’s jewellery as it would probably turn out way to feminine and therefor it might not be very attractive to the male customer.

BBB: Where would you say that that the group’s primary influence or inspiration comes from and what keeps the group motivated?

Smith: Absolutely everywhere really. We never look at other people’s jewellery for inspiration, it mostly comes from completely different fields such as childhood memories, biological drawings, you name it.

Grey: Inspiration lies in everything; it’s just a question about piecing them together. Sometimes it is specific people and their achievements which sparks an interest; other times it can be a mixture of memories entangled with recent events which sparks ideas.

BBB: Jewelry is a very important accessory to fashion and style, is it a fair assumption to say that jewelry can make or break an outfit?

Smith: I’d like to think that it expresses one’s personality even more than clothes do as it usually has a very personal touch. And a lot of times jewellery is kept much longer than clothes, so it takes on a completely different position in someones life. It’s more of a carrier of a story than a trend that will pass quickly.

BBB: Your work is modern yet holds a traditional essence to it, do you feel as if timelessness is a primary concern in creating accessories?

S/G: We don’t consider it to be a objective when we design but if this is achieved in the process than that’s part of the story and we wouldn’t wanna get rid of it just to not be traditional. Tradition is a beautiful concept and everything around us is build on something that has been there before. If there is a sense of tradition in a piece than that is only a compliment to it’s predecessors. 

BBB: What does the future hold for Smith/Grey? Are there any secrets or side projects that are in store?

S/G: We are currently in the early development phase of new men and women collections both exploring new territory with distinct voices – but to get the full story you will have to follow us at http://www.smithgrey.co.uk or on Twitter @SmithGreyLondon.

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