Hannah Jewett and Nikki Mirsaeid first met four years ago, by chance, at a warehouse party in San Francisco. It didn't take long for them to realize the possibilities of a collaborative line. Merging Mirsaeid's predilection for translucent pieces and Jewett's faux-marble bracelets and chokers, Mir Ett finds luxury through the elevation of humble materials. Here, the New York-based designers break down the influences, materials, and process that went into their elegant debut collection. Watch out for these two.
What are your design backgrounds? HANNAH JEWETT: I grew up with an appreciation for object making. I started sewing and making jewelry when I was a kid. I studied painting, sculpture, and installation art at California College of the Arts, but it wasn't until I was about to graduate I started getting interested in jewelry and started using my school's laser cutter to make necklaces.
NIKKI MIRSAEID: I studied design and technology at San Francisco Art Institute. It was a really loose multidisciplinary program where I took classes from every department. I started getting interested in jewelry about two years ago. This was after I graduated from college and didn't have a huge wood and metal shop at my disposal. It was only natural to start working on a smaller scale, which led me to jewelry.
How would you describe your processes? JEWETT: I have two different design processes. One is instinctual, where I'll see a material I like—like a bath mat at Bed, Bath, and Beyond—and immediately envision it as a purse. The other process requires revisiting the piece multiple times. When I get an idea, I draw it out with watercolors or gel pens, sometimes I make a mini mock-up of the piece in order to get a feel for its dimensions. It takes form in many different ways before it becomes the end product. I rarely use the computer when designing, unless I need to draw something in Illustrator to have it laser cut. I prefer to do things by hand.
MIRSAEID: A lot of my inspiration comes from materials I source from non-conventional outlets: industrial hardware stores, The Container Store, The Home Depot, plastic and rubber suppliers. That's actually how Hannah and I became attracted to each other's work: a mutual obsession with The Container Store. It's hard to express how much we love that place.
What is it like building a brand from scratch? JEWETT: Building a label from the ground up is scary—in a good way. There are so many people with good ideas who don't use them, or are too afraid to use them. Starting an accessories brand is a risk. Why does the world need another accessories brand? We realize there's already a lot of good design out there, but there's also a lot of bad design. We believe that we have a lot of good ideas to contribute, and that helps us move forward.
MIRSAEID: We both have different strengths we bring to the table. I'm savvy with digital design and graphics and I find great pleasure in branding. Hannah is great at figuring out how to physically produce things. She pretends she's a Pratt student and does research at their library. We deeply consider every aspect of our "label" from logo, web, packaging, tags, etc. Jewelry is only a fraction of a bigger project and concept.
What's the deal with the translucent weights? JEWETT: The weights were conceived out of my resentment for exercise. My logic was that I hate the aesthetics of mainstream athletic wear—anything that isn't Y3 or cool Nike, basically. By making an object that I actually wanted to pick up and use, maybe I would get into the habit of exercising. When I explained this to my cousins who are actually dedicated athletes, their reply was: "That's so stupid it might work." Whether or not the weights function as workout equipment, making a functional, non-jewelry item was a breakthrough and has inspired a lot of plans for future design.