Architecture, Minimalism, Geometry- A Feature on Chicago Jewelry Designer Lindsay Lewis
Do you ever have that feeling of hate-envy when you walk into a party and your friend is wearing something really cool? That wish you had it, couldn't possibly ask about it... how did I not get this first feeling? This was me a few years ago when a friend showed up decked out in Lindsay Lewis jewelry. Once you see it you'll know what I mean. Somehow the maker is able to create designs that are a perfect balance of minimalism and statement piece.
The best part of her work is how unique each collection is. I'm a bit of a jewelry fanatic and I really don't know of any other designer doing what she does. Her jewelry has taught me the value of owning nicer pieces that can truly last you a lifetime. Through various sample sales and markets, I've collected quite a bit of LL, so when my fiancé and I we're looking to design a commitment ring, it was a no brainer that we'd go to Lindsay for help. If you're looking for everyday jewelry, fine jewelry, and/or custom pieces I can't rave enough about this Chicago designer. (Ok, that's my pitch)
Although her designs have this effortless beauty about them, it's evident that a lot of thought and process goes into her collections. I caught up with Lindsay to take a deeper dive into her background, work process, and a little bit about her as a person...and hopefully one day we'll get to see a furniture collection from her because I'm ready to buy all of it.
Tell me about your background and how you started making jewelry.
My high school offered jewelry metalsmithing classes, surprisingly! I became obsessed with it as a teenager and later went to college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I studied metals, sculpture, and designed objects. During that time I worked for artists and jewelers which helped me realize my goal of owning my own business. Once I graduated from college I worked part time on jewelry and part time at bars until I was making enough money to go full time with the jewelry biz!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I feel like my work is a jumble of many things but I’d say I’m most inspired by architecture in Chicago— there are so many amazing Art Deco facades. Recently I’ve also been inspired by modern furniture design. Elements from furniture can be really sculptural and translate well into jewelry.
"I’d say I’m most inspired
by architecture in Chicago"
"I like to design in collections in order to explore a concept as fully as possible."
What is your design process? Is it different when you do custom work vs. items that you sell?
I like to design in collections in order to explore a concept as fully as possible. It’s really fun for me to take an idea and make it function as a ring/necklace/earrings and I just love to see it all come together! Unfortunately it takes a very long time to get from concept to everything ready to purchase online. That’s something I’m trying to get better at. But I usually start with a design element or two, do sketches, and make samples. I toss out a ton of ideas that just won’t work or would be too hard to produce at an affordable price point.
Custom is really a collaboration with the client which is enjoyable for me because it’s a totally different way than I’m used to working. I didn’t do much custom a couple years ago and recently it started picking up—I’m still learning the best ways to navigate it!
Have to get my plug in here... on the right is the ring my fiancé and I designed with Lindsay! On the left are the inspiration images we sent. Being a designer myself, I loved the idea of building a concept based on architectural motifs. Let's just say I look at my ring a bad amount... oops even when I'm driving.
As a designer, how do you progress without losing the essence of the products people already love and know you for?
This is so tough! I think it’s important to see the big picture of where you want your work and business to be and constantly be working towards that. My taste changes as I get older.. I just entered my 30s and what I value in jewelry now, is different than what I valued in my mid 20s when I started the business.
My customers are also growing with me and I think they want something new, exciting, and sophisticated. Overall I think since my general inspiration source of architecture stays the same there will always be elements that connect collections but the challenge of keeping it interesting and fresh is the way to keep the products progressing.
How has the pandemic had an impact on you, your business, and how you work?
Usually my business revenue is about 25% in person events, 25% wholesale to brick and mortar stores, 25% custom, 25% online sales. All in person events are canceled for the foreseeable future and when Covid first hit all stores were closed, which means they weren’t buying wholesale.. some of my stockists even closed permanently.
I’m lucky that online and custom was still a viable outlet for sales during the lockdown. I also feel lucky that I can work alone in my studio and alternate days with my studio assistant. Since my workload has been a lot lower than usual I’ve been able to focus on being okay with not working. For the past 6 years I’ve been non stop hustling so not being able to work has put things into perspective— like I should take time for myself! I’m looking forward to the day when things get back to “normal” but I’m going to take some lessons from Covid into the future for sure.
What’s next for you? (future goals, upcoming projects, whatever you want to share)
I’m almost done with a new collection! Instead of stones there will be colored Czech glass beads and instead of solid brass, all the pieces will be gold plated. There are also a lot of pieces that are just metal, which is new for me. I’m also working on more Fine pieces and alternative engagement rings!
If you're not in your workshop, what are you doing?
I love riding my bike, camping, cooking, yoga, being with friends and family, thrifting, podcasts, and road trips.
3 fun facts about yourself.
I collect handmade mugs
Outside of jewelry my dream job is a furniture designer/maker
I really enjoy early mornings
(All product images above are linked so you can shop the look)