This is the beginning of a new feature I’d like to introduce to I want – I got, the Studio Tour. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the studio space a few local designers. I’m fan poking around creative types working spaces. I find all their tools fascinating. The mood and inspiration boards give me insight into their brains. I figured other people would be interested too, so why not blog about it. The Studio Tours isn’t really a formal interview; more a conversation. It’s a way to get a look into a creative mind in their workspace. First up, Dean Davidson.
“You worked in agriculture before you became a jewellery designer”, I replied to Dean. My jaw hit the ground before the words got out. It wasn’t the beginning I expected to hear from Canadian jewellery designer Dean Davidson. For 8 years Dean would travel to different farms and evaluate them in order to explain to the farmer what was needed in order to create the yield they were looking for.Â Dean was all impressed that I understood the concept of yield and stuff, that made me happy.
The rest of the story is pretty well know, Dean, influenced by the jewellery he saw in South Africa returned home and started making bracelets eventually expanded to include other pieces. During this time Dean when to school for graphic design and took silversmithing courses at ACAD. Eventually Paul Hardy and Dean worked together on the Paul’s jewellery line.Â It was sold at Holt Renfrew Calgary and Toronto. Four years later Paul and Dean went their separate ways and Dean Davidson Designs was born.
Dean’s studio is very organized. I think because of the metal work I was expecting something different. I had visions of metal shavings on the ground and a smelting pit; perhaps Dean shirtless with a hammer. Yes, my imagination does get away from me sometimes.Â It wasn’t like that at all of course.
Paul immediately started snapping away and Dean began showing me around. His inspiration board is small and packed full of images. Dean and Camille (his assistant) populate the board with magazine clippings and art. I think I gasped when Dean opened up a drawer after drawer of full of jewellery. Dean’s work is primarily in silver, gems and a dash of gold. He’s considered a bridge line in jewellery which sits right in the middle between Costume and Fine.
Bridge lines use semiprecious stones and metals at a price point that is more affordable than fine jewellery.Â They usually have a signature trait like Alexis Bittar’s lucite or David Yurman’s twisted cable. Dean’s signature is the brushed metal finish. Starting in the fall, Dean is moving the last of his production to Canada and everything made will be local.
I asked Dean about his signature. He was in Paris for a trade show and was inspired by a single brushed metal bead on another jewellery designer’s necklace.Â It was the first time he had ever seen the technique and the rest is history. The look and texture of the brushed silver has varied over the years. Customers tend to like the lighter brushed texture as opposed to the heavier and more pronounced texture.
A flexible shaft machine creates the brush effect. Dean demonstrates the technique to us. He talks about the first time he sat down to create a piece and how it took hours to finish. “My designs were a more intricate back then,” he says as he waves the brush quickly over the silver. In seconds we have the signature Davidson brushed silver. I asked about quality control since all the pieces are handmade.Â He acknowledges the difficulties in the process.Â Local production makes it easier to perform quality control.Â For his Indian supplier he created the perfect sample as a reference.Â The production pieces should adhere to this sample, if they do not Dean has the right to return the product.
Dean’s favourite jewellery designer is Alexis Bittar. He also doesn’t care much for fine jewellery as bridge lines are more interesting to him.Â We talked about the state of men’s jewellery. I’m told that the European and UK markets are better for men’s jewellery as they are more open to wearing it.Â North America isn’t as receptive (this seems to be the pattern in everything fashion).Â When designing men’s jewellery you have to create something masculine but appeal to women, especially in the North American market. Guess who’s buying, it ain’t the men.
Dean said he loves designer collaborations. He created the jewellery for Pink Tartan’s Spring 2010 show.Â Designing for retail and the runway are two different beasts. The runway pieces are larger and more noticeable, wearablity isn’t a priority. These collaborations allows him to push himself in his designs. The finished pieces are also great for magazine editorial. A beautiful silver cuff was featured in a Meisel editorial for Vogue Italia January issue.Â My girl Rose Cordero is sporting it.
During the last hour or so of the visit was dedicated to creating a one of a kind Dean Davidson necklace for yours truly. Dean’s early jewellery career saw him working with beads and he has quite the selection to choose from. We started with a silver chain and went from there. Dean did most of the work, I just said yes or no a lot. I’m so in love with the final product that I haven’t taken it off much.
Paul and I had so much fun visiting Dean at the Studio.Â Dean was such a gracious host and plied us with wine and answered all our probing questions.Â There are lots more photos in the slideshow of Dean’s studio. There are some pretty hot ones of Dean too if you need a little incentive 😉
All photos Taken by Paul Baik for I want – I got – www.paulbaikphoto.com