Dis­co­ver the world of hand­ma­de jewel­ry with Lani Lees

For designer, model, and stylist Lani Lees, handmade jewelry might just be one of the most personal forms of expression there is.

With designing and craf­ting her own pie­ces under her epony­mous label Lani Lees Jewel­ry, the Ber­lin-based crea­ti­ve is loo­king to not only cura­te and pre­sent a true reflec­tion of her own sto­ry, but also enga­ge others in that sen­se of hones­ty. With ever­ything being hand­ma­de and care­ful­ly crea­ted, Lani Lees’ jewel­ry is pro­ving its­elf against mind­less con­su­me­rism, as well as igno­rant thin­king. With a strong sen­se for equa­li­ty and unity as an under lay­er of her work, Lani is see­ing her uni­sex pie­ces as advo­ca­tes for tog­e­ther­ness rather than dif­fe­ren­ces – we asked her all about her sto­ry with the craft of making jewel­ry as well as using it as a tool for her messages.

Let’s start right from the begin­ning. How did the idea of foun­ding your own jewel­ry label come about?
At the end of the day it was qui­te a long pro­cess. I was doing a lot of dif­fe­rent pro­jects for some time, but jewel­ry was always some­whe­re in my mind. That goes right back to my mother and me roa­ming through count­less jewel­ry stores in Thai­land. Still, real­ly set­ting up a label took some time and ulti­mate­ly ori­gi­na­ted from my pas­si­on for the craft of crea­ting the­se pie­ces. So over­all, the pro­cess of me redis­co­vering it was real­ly natural.

Was the­re any par­ti­cu­lar moment you redis­co­ve­r­ed that love for jewel­ry?
It was immedia­te­ly once I sat back down at my working table. I just star­ted with thin­king about a few designs and expe­ri­men­ting with a few dif­fe­rent tech­ni­ques, and ever­ything came right back. I actual­ly star­ted to won­der how I was able to go without making jewel­ry for so long. That was the key moment I rea­li­zed this is what I need to do.

Blog 1708 Lani Lees Jewelry Interview 01

Tal­king about the craft, all your pro­ducts are hand­ma­de. Why is that approach espe­cial­ly important to you?
First and fore­mo­st, the craft just is my pas­si­on, and to me it is a lot of fun. Apart from that I just like that with jewel­ry you real­ly see and sen­se if the pie­ces are hand­ma­de, which is some­thing real­ly spe­cial. This sus­tainab­le path defi­ni­te­ly is the only pos­si­ble way for me. One of the nice things about working with such mate­ri­als also is that you can always melt them and then total­ly reu­se them. I am working a lot with recy­cled mate­ri­als, and you can actual­ly feel that when you touch the pieces.

Do you feel like this deve­lo­p­ment towards a more sus­tainab­le and per­so­nal approach is a gene­ral trend in jewel­ry at the moment?
Yes, I also think this is one of the big­gest dif­fe­ren­ces bet­ween fashion and jewel­ry right now. With jewel­ry, you often have a real­ly per­so­nal sto­ry rela­ted to the pro­duct or object, you choo­se to buy that exact pie­ce. So the mind-set of the cus­to­mers is total­ly dif­fe­rent, they buy some­thing for them­sel­ves becau­se they want to, not becau­se they necessa­ri­ly need it. That also great­ly reflects in the peop­le that buy my jewel­ry, they often con­scious­ly look for some­thing a bit more spe­cial. I real­ly enjoy this per­so­nal con­ta­ct becau­se you real­ly get to know your cus­to­mers, you build some­thing like a rela­ti­ons­hip with them and often I even get to be the­re when they recei­ve what they orde­red. I would­n’t want to miss that.

On that note, do you feel like you also put a lot of yourself and your cha­rac­ter into your jewel­ry?
My label is some­thing that is com­ple­te­ly con­nec­ted to my per­so­na­li­ty. It’s a mix of ele­gan­ce and rough­ness, with spor­ty ele­ments, and defi­ni­te­ly not only fema­le, more uni­sex. Alt­hough I some­ti­mes noti­ce that becau­se the­se pro­ducts are a reflec­tion of me, of me as a woman, they do tend to be a bit more fema­le ori­en­ted than male.

When designing your pie­ces now and pou­ring so much of yourself into them, is the crea­ti­on pro­cess equal­ly as natu­ral as your redis­co­very of it?
Most­ly it’s real­ly natu­ral, yes. I have a few topics I try to espe­cial­ly incor­po­ra­te into my designs, two of the most important of them being music and dance. With dance and music, the­re just is this sen­se of com­ing tog­e­ther of dif­fe­rent peop­le, no mat­ter if they are men or women. Things like that don’t mat­ter with music, we just all beco­me one. Tha­t’s also why I want to focus on uni­sex jewel­ry, espe­cial­ly in the sen­se of equality.

How do you con­nect that stri­ve for equa­li­ty with your jewel­ry?
Equa­li­ty is an important topic to me becau­se I grew up as a woman, and expe­ri­en­ced what it is like to grow up as a woman in dif­fe­rent coun­tries. Tha­t’s why I was always qui­te inte­res­ted in the dis­pa­ri­ties that still lar­ge­ly exist bet­ween men and women in dif­fe­rent cul­tures, as well as bet­ween peop­le of dif­fe­rent sexu­al ori­en­ta­ti­ons. I always knew that if I would do my own pro­ducts they should be able to reflect the­se topics, becau­se they are so important to me. Of cour­se a pie­ce of jewel­ry isn’t going to be the one thing that over­co­mes the­se issu­es, but I none­theless think that jewel­ry is a good way to bring across a mes­sa­ge. Tha­t’s also how the idea of doing uni­sex jewel­ry came about in the first place, and how this rela­tes to my other pas­si­ons music and dance. When we lis­ten to music and are moved by it, both phy­si­cal­ly and emo­tio­nal­ly, whe­re we come from, who we love, what back­ground we have beco­mes irrele­vant. I am cur­r­ent­ly plan­ning the launch event of Lani Lees Jewel­ry in Sep­tem­ber and want to fur­ther deve­lop my brand, working with pos­si­ble col­la­bo­ra­ti­on part­ners that espe­cial­ly fit with my key the­mes: dance, music, and unisex.


Images by Han­nah Cas­sens Marshall

18 Aug. 2017 · NEUBAU EYEWEAR
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