Trinkets and Townhouses with Jewellery Designer Jessica McCormack

Trinkets and Townhouses with Jewellery Designer Jessica McCormack

Jewellery designer Jessica McCormack set up shop at 7 Carlos Place in London’s Mayfair in 2008. Her townhouse here serves as a design studio, workshop and retail space – and with its museum-worthy collection of art, it could well be a gallery too.

Jessica McCormack is a disconcerting
storyteller. Fickle and feverishly passionate about art, history
and, of course, jewellery, she has a townhouse at 7 Carlos Place that serves as a
retail space, design studio and workshop – and is a composition of
her evolving and changeable interests.

Her debut
collection, “Messenger of the Gods” was inspired by
Greek mythology: “I just love historical references or anything
with a story.” Signature motifs include birds and stars, wings and
hearts; McCormack is a romantic dreamer in the first degree.

While her bricks-and-mortar set up in Mayfair is the first port
of call for most shoppers, McCormack’s not shying away from other
revenue streams such as online and Instagram. Still though, slowing down the
process of getting from A to B is important to McCormack – whether
that’s in reference to jewellery selection or a long-winded
adventure by train from Venice
to London.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

A total mash-up of late-19th-century elegance, 90s grunge and
contemporary. I’m influenced by anything and everything from
to modern art.

Talk us through your design process. You begin with a series of
hand drawn sketches…

I design in different ways, sometimes it comes from an idea and
I fit diamonds into the design, and sometimes I am inspired by a
special diamond and the creation is centred around that stone. I
draw everything by hand, and we make everything by hand in the
workshop at the townhouse. I love the intense human element to
everything we do.

At 7 Carlos Place your workshop, studio
and client space all reside together. What was the thinking behind

Combining retail offerings, a design studio and workshop creates
a very dynamic space fitted with a revolving collection of
contemporary art, an overstuffed library, unusual found objects and
family photos. It’s a collector’s space, constantly evolving; I
love the idea of an ever changing home that grows with you.

Is it important to operate both in bricks and clicks?

I think
should be sold in a relaxed environment; you need to
be able to handle a jewel, feel the weight in your hand and see how
it works with the body. Jewellery is an emotional purchase and in
such a fast-paced world, our clients love that they can pop in and
take their time building their jewellery wardrobe. We also need to
be able to service our global clientele via the website, Instagram and WhatsApp, but we ensure our
online experience is still a very personal one.

Talk us through the inspiration for three of your favourite

I am fickle and change my mind all the time. I am particularly
excited about our new collections: one inspired by botanicals, one
by clouds and one by matchsticks. We also have a new high jewellery
offering which, for any designer, is the dream as it allows you to
play in the fantasy arena and work with extraordinary stones to
bring the pieces to life. All collections are very different but
the narrative behind each is important to me.

How has your Sotheby’s training impacted your work?

It was hugely influential. I was exposed to Russian crown
jewels, 20s Cartier and Lalique… jewellery I had never heard of,
let alone handled in
New Zealand
. It inspired me to use the traditional Georgian and
Victorian techniques I learned about; I’ve taken the essence of
these forgotten eras and made new jewellery for a modern woman.

We’ve heard about the four Cs but you define them

I have an unconventional set of four C’s. They are craft,
collect, curate and cult. These are for me the four pillars of our
business. I address them and ensure they can all be acknowledged
and contributed too when designing or looking at a business

What are some of your key influences?

There can hardly be an artist who has tackled the issues of what
it is to be a woman and a mother with more power than Louise
Bourgeois – I don’t think I could have appreciated this when I was
younger. I’m lucky to have two Bourgeois works at Carlos Place;
including one of her Personages. She created these works as
companions to combat her loneliness and carry the weight of her

Where are you from and how has that shaped or inspired

I am proud and humbled to be from
New Zealand
. It’s such a beautiful country. It’s my home and
everything I do is deeply rooted in that. Being a New Zealander
sculpts my entire life, ethos, creative process, style and

Where’s your next adventure?

I am taking the
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
train from Venice
– so excited. I love the idea of slowing down the
process of getting from A to B and being able to absorb both the
culture and the journey en route.

Does travel inform your work?

Being curious and exploring inspires me all the time.

What’s your take on souvenirs?

I have a collector’s possession obsession, so I love buying
souvenirs, mementos, trinkets and keepsakes wherever I go.

What are you reading at the moment?

If I have a spare minute, I am reading. It’s my escapism and
meditation rolled into one. I have just finished Where the Crawdads
Sing by Delia Owens and recently finished (and loved) A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara.

One piece of travel advice…

Don’t travel with three children under three!

And finally, what’s in your SUITCASE?

Always my Kindle and my Dr Barbara Sturm skincare products. Anything else I
can buy on the way.

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