New York designer Eddie Borgo‘s dazzlingly cool jewelry designs can be spotted on any number of sleekly styled celebrities, like Joan Smalls at this year’s CFDA Fashion Awards—for which Borgo was actually nominated in 2010. At once contemporary and classic, his clean and edgy pieces are the kind of accessories wearers will reach for any time an outfit needs additional emphasis. Indeed, his beautiful creations are like metallic exclamation points: linear, graceful and commanding. Just as stunning with a tee as with a formal gown, these designs project simple elegance.
We spoke with Eddie about selecting jewelry, NYC and his sources of inspiration—including the Chrysler Building, rock ‘n’ roll, and art museums.
Do you have a piece of jewelry you usually wear?
I always wear a simple silver cuff that I made for myself at some point, and now we sell it as a part of our men’s collection. I also wear our pyramid and cone bracelets quite often—they really work with everything and have over time become classic pieces of jewelry themselves.
For this collection, you were inspired by classicism and the padlock. How do these themes intersect?
In the studio, we maintain a consistent exploration of geometry, identifying different ways to manipulate shape into new forms. I look at the jewelry we create as if it is miniature sculpture, or maquettes. Each piece is imagined, sketched by hand, and then engineered to exist as a piece of wearable art.
The padlock is a shape that we’ve worked with in the past—essentially a combination of a rectangular shape mixed with a cylindrical U-bar shape. In our pre-fall 2016 collection, we took these design elements and ran with them—as we often do—creating many new constructions and ideas. In the end, I feel that classicism and geometry go hand in hand, and this collection is truly a representation of jewelry that can be worn forever.
You are inspired by modern art and artists. What is the best exhibition you’ve seen recently?
I was recently at Frieze, the art fair in New York, and it was such an inspiration to see all of the different materials—and combinations of materials—that fine artists and sculptors work with. Modern art, sculpture, architecture are all things that I continually look toward for inspiration. I love the idea that these oftentimes oversize shapes can be reconsidered and reduced in size to become a piece of wearable jewelry.
What are important elements to consider when making a jewelry purchase?
That the piece speaks to you—your energy, your personality, your style. Jewelry is so personal—when someone is wearing a piece of jewelry that does not suit them, it’s often obvious to me.
Is there anything that you would never incorporate into your designs?
Preexisting finds—everything we create in the studio is done by hand and has not existed before. This is part of our creation process, and I always confirm the authenticity of our pieces.
What was the initial appeal for you in jewelry design? What is the enduring pleasure in continuing to design over eight years later?
We are not chained down by the nuances of creating fine jewelry. We can use gold, sterling silver, brass, copper, wood, glass. There are no limitations in terms of material. This not only drives creativity, it also drives our constant craving to learn and explore new engineering techniques.
There’s a serious rock ‘n’ roll element in your spiky and studded jewelry, and Alison Mosshart was your 2012 spokesmodel. What are some of your favorite bands?
I have always loved music, not only rock ‘n’ roll but music generally. I studied the history of adornment in school, the ways in which we can differentiate cultures, points in time, status by identifying the jewelry people wore. I think jewelry is unique and special in that it is so personal. I remember often looking at the album cover art of my parents’ vinyl collection and being intrigued by the personal style of the musicians—always focusing on the jewelry.
Where are some of your favorite places to kick back in New York?
The apartments of my friends. We have dinner parties that are so intimate and relaxing. It is such a gift to spend time in someone’s home.
I have recently been going to Metrograph, a theatre that has opened on the Lower East Side. The restaurant is great, and you can see a great film afterward. The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City is also incredibly peaceful.
Is there a particular building or piece of architecture in New York that has influenced your designs?
William Van Alen’s Chrysler Building. It continually inspires.
Shop: Eddie Borgo