The City That Never Sleeps has endless amounts of time for inspiration. Whether it’s the juxtaposition of light and dark, mixing alchemical elements of old and new world, or structurally creating buildings that surpass the timeless expectations of its residents, New York City is the creative crux of every piece of Brooklyn-based designer Jene DeSpain’s jewelry collection. Sourcing inspiration from her surroundings, DeSpain creates pieces that energetically represent some of the most classic city buildings. Her ability to extrapolate their basic elements and transpose them beautifully into wearable art is creation in its finest form.
A photographer for years, DeSpain’s venture into jewelry design came by accident. Unlike photography, which constructs something from the light and dark shadows of the world, jewelry design conceives a new theory. DeSpain’s challenge was to set aside everything she had learned about art from photography and rediscover a new creative process.
Her attraction to jewelry design challenged DeSpain to find a new way to broadcast her creativity. To do so, she relied on a familiar bit of inspiration: The City. To DeSpain, every building had a story to tell, and every block brought more inspiration.
Mimicking her surroundings, DeSpain’s designs exemplify beauty for the sake of beauty itself, at times intense and sharp, but sometimes soft and delicate. From her earlier designs, when she focused on the original materials of buildings, such as steel or glass, for structural inspiration, there is a fluid sense of movement and a pushing of boundaries. Her latest collections have incorporated a more structured energy into their focus. Her designs have weathered the growth and generated a strength of their own.
The lifeblood of New York City makes the heart race. Moving swiftly, this drumbeat is the lifeline of the city and this designer herself. Like sliding into place, DeSpain’s rediscovery of New York City marked the upswing in her creative path. Her drastic shift from photography to jewelry design was the defining moment in her professional craft that pushed her to the next level of creation and possibility. Once she returned to her roots in the city that was in her heart, her jewelry design began to take on a life of its own which can be seen today.
In a moment of admiration, DeSpain pointed out her favorite building in the five boroughs. The striking Bryant Park Hotel, housed in the historical American Radiator Building, is a stunning portrayal of everything possible within the negative and positive design elements of architecture. The building is an elaborate structure of dark black aesthetic with touches of bright gold overlay cascading from the summit. It stands alone like a Gothic demon, hovering over Bryant Park. The hotel maintains its presence with its fantastic beauty but is also a historical acknowledgment of the importance of minerals. It is not by chance that this is her favorite building.
It is often a beautiful testament to one’s own personal growth as an artisan when our inspiration extends outside of ourselves. Each movement through our daily lives can provide a spectrum of possibility with each turn of the tools of the trade. DeSpain captures these elements in her poignant design choices, luring the beauty contained in New York’s rich architectural tradition into a wearable remembrance.
To see more of Jené’s work click here.