Q & A: Matthew Campbell Laurenza
Have you always been interested in designing jewellery?
I come from a family of collectors, so being exposed as a child helped me foster an appreciation of beautiful things. My family would collect all sorts of art, antiques and silverware - from Mayan and Aztec to European pieces. It was an eclectic mixture and I think that helped me learn and appreciate all the different manifestations of beauty.
I also went with them on shopping trips, during which I learned to develop an eye for quality workmanship and design.
When did you decide to become a jewellery designer?
My path towards becoming a jewellery designer wasn't so simple. At first, I wanted to become an ophthalmologist. Then it was a real estate lawyer because I could still work with art and antiques. I actually ended up studying interior design and architecture for a short period but switched to a degree in sculpture at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
How did you move from sculpture to jewellery making?
There are a lot of similarities between the two; the only real difference is the scale. I began tinkering with jewellery-making long before I picked up sculpture. My father knew how to make jewellery, and when I was 13, he bought me a set of tools. I even managed to sell pieces through a Kentucky shop and sometimes made US$500 to US$2,000 a week. People would come to me for custom-designed pieces.
Why did you launch your line in Asia?
I headed to Asia to experience different cultures and also to source stones for jewellery pieces. I began using materials such as enamel, gold and silver as well as multicoloured precious and semi-precious stones. I also found artisans in Thailand [where my pieces are still made] who understood my aesthetic. All my jewellery is 100 per cent handmade and quite ornate, and the Thai artists make sure the final product really reflects my designs.
How would you describe M.C.L's aesthetic?
The first word that comes to mind is 'colourful'. I like to think of my jewellery as something that can make a person happy when they put it on. My pieces are quite eclectic and therefore appeal to women looking for a unique conversation piece. My customers are usually women who aren't afraid to try new things. Rihanna and Kimora Lee Simmons, for example, are big fans because they both love playing around with different looks, and my jewellery helps them accomplish that.
What can we expect from your current collection?
For my autumn/winter 2008 collection, I juxtaposed architectural shapes that are strong and bold with more delicate details such as flowers and ornaments. In keeping with my aesthetic, I used a lot of enamel and different coloured precious stones. My men's collection - the first of its kind - consists of enamelled dog tags and embellished charms such as toy solders, tanks, crucifixes, grenades and helicopters - a sort of sophisticated toy chest.
How do you see your brand developing in the future?
I launched my first men's collection in July at Bergdorf Goodman and I hope to launch a handbag collection next year. The line consists mostly of clutches and large totes, and will be an extension of the jewellery, as I plan to embellish the hardware with real stones. One day, I'd also like to try my hand at designing watches. The sky's the limit.
M.C.L. by Matthew Campbell Laurenza is available at Lane Crawford boutiques including IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2118 3388 and On Pedder, Wheelock House, Central, tel: 2118 3489