If there is one collection of handmade jewelry that you need to see today, please make Shahla Karimi’s that collection. One of the things I love about running the LAB is discovering yet another maker who blows me away with their talent and designs.
I initially discovered Shahla’s work via Pinklion, one of the best online destinations for modern handmade goods, and I was completely smitten. Once I saw her entire collection, I knew I had to feature her work.
Shahla pulls inspiration for her collection from the diverse places that she has lived, like San Francisco, Kentucky and New York. She’s also heavily influenced by her Native American and Persian roots. Blending all of these veins of inspiration together into one collection would appear to be a daunting task, but she does it effortlessly. The pieces are modern and bold, with geometric shapes coexisting with freeform. The collection manages to be both organic and structured at the same time. This juxtaposition gives Shahla’s work a dynamism that is absolutely magnetic. You simply cannot turn away!
Below you will find an expressive interview with Shahla for my continuous Handmade Profile series. Her thoughts on inspiration and creativity are some of my favorites. Afterward, please visit the shop of this talented handmade jewelry designer and let us know what you think of her work in the comments below. What’s your favorite piece?
What inspired you to begin your collection?
I am half middle eastern so I grew up being adorned in gold bangles and gemed-out necklaces! I didn’t consider starting my own line until I started taking metal smithing and casting classes about 8 years ago. From the first piece I made, I knew I wanted to create my own line one day – I wasn’t able to dedicate myself to it full-time until 2014. It’s been like a dream ever since!
Describe your creative process. Where do you start?
My goal is to always make the pieces I want to wear so that is usually were I start. I think about what isn’t out there yet that I want to own! To get original shapes I love using urban landscapes – for example, the shapes of Parsian bodies of water and New York City transit maps. I try to distill beauty from ordinary things.
How do you maintain your creative drive?
I go to a lot of museums and spend time with people I find inspiring! Generally I try not to force a concept – I’ve recently stopped designing according to the fashion calendar – now that I have my core collections, I am making capsule collections as an idea comes instead of feeling the pressure to come up with a concept on demand every February and September.
Shahla uses an intersection of old world techniques and new world technologies. Everything is designed in 3-D and pieces are prototyped using 3-D printers. Once designs are refined, the final pieces are formed with high-resolution printers then burned out and cast using traditional “lost wax” casting techniques. All manufacturing is done locally in NYC.
About The Designs, Shahla Karimi
What materials do you love to use?
I am currently coveting Pink Opal set in 14k gold but silver and turquoise will always be my favorite combination!
Every product has a story. Is there a story behind one of your pieces that stands out to you?
The new Parisian Waters collection is my current favorite! The pieces were formed from the shapes of bodies of water in Paris parks – the negative spaces in the pieces are where there were land masses in the waters. Reflective metal replaced everywhere there was water.
Do you have a dream collaborator?
I would love to create pieces for a Public School fashion week show!
Inspiration comes from places Shahla has lived – Kentucky, San Francisco, and New York. Rural / urban juxtapositions are featured in the first collections, like the interlocking Honeycomb rings. She is also heavily influenced by her Native American and Persian roots and expresses that in her material use of silver and turquoise.
About The Maker, Shahla Karimi
What are some of the challenges that you face as a maker?
Production is always a challenge – every time I make a new product, there are both known and unknown challenges. Before I had my label, I worked in physical and digital production for a decade – and I learned that production pretty much never goes smoothly! People that work in production need to enjoy problem solving – most orders will have a kink along the way!
How do you use social media and blogging to promote your work?
I mostly use Instagram (ShahlaKarimi_Jewelry) and Snapchat (Skarimi_Jewelry) to promote new products and show behind the scenes pics (mixed in with some personal pics – mostly my fur children)!
Where do you see your shop/project going?
I can only hope to keep growing – I’ve been really lucky the last 18 months. I’ve never enjoyed going into work as much as I do now. I am so grateful – I just hope to be able to keep it going (and get to dress a Public School show, haha)!
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