We like things to have a vibe. A strong, clear vibe. Wishy-washy isn't really our bag. So when we happened upon Brooklyn-based Baker & Black, we were instantly smitten. Moody, retro and glamorous, Megan Baker's pieces have a throwback sense of style without looking like anything that came before it. (Watch the video below, made by her husband and business partner Paris Mavroidis, and you'll get an immediate sense of what we're talking about. We suggest having a cocktail on hand to really get the full effect.) These are juicy, colorful gems offset by sculptural (and mostly recycled) gold settings that somehow manage to feel like the future and the past all at once. We asked Megan five questions about her biz and life, below, and don't forget to check out the goods. If you're anything like us, you'll probably want to start your collection ASAP.
Click on the images to enlarge and get a little more insight straight from the designer's mouth!
How did you come to jewelry design as your career? Tell us a little bit of the backstory.
I have been taking jewelry classes since high school and after college I started making jewelry and thinking about creating a line. I also started working at Doyle & Doyle (an antique jewelry store in lower Manhattan) and that is where my design philosophy really crystallized. The buyer, Elizabeth Doyle, had an amazing library and was very generous with all of her knowledge and experience. I learned so much and I was able to handle so many spectacular pieces. Christmas time was always the best because she would pull in all of the real standout pieces. I still dream about this diamond and platinum Art Deco fish scale bracelet we had one year.
You say that your inspiration comes from old American jewelry houses – which are some of your favorites, and name some pieces or particular styles that influenced your aesthetic.
Marcus & Co! Their jewels are not just beautiful, 100 years later they still feel so original and unique. J.E. Caldwell; Black, Starr & Frost; and, of course, Tiffany & Co were also influential. I love the whole rich history of jewelry design but I would say the eras that most directly influence my designs would be the Retro and Arts & Crafts periods. I love the boldness and over the top glamour of Retro baubles and I think my approach to color is similar to that of Arts & Crafts Jewelers — I particularly admire Dorrie Nossiter's work.
What are some of your favorite gems to work with and why?
I first fell in love with tourmaline when the most amazing Arts & Crafts navette ring came in while I was at Doyle & Doyle. I wore it so much that the other owner, Pamela Doyle, thought it was mine! It was set with this massive deep pink tourmaline cabochon. I would just stare at that stone, it was like a little universe inside it. Tourmaline offers such a rich palette, from deep raspberry to minty green to teal-y blue. I also have a soft spot for garnets, their colors are so vibrant. I've recently finished a couple of pieces with tsavorite garnet and I find that deep green very inspiring.
Let's talk Brooklyn, your current hometown. What are some of your favorite places to eat, drink, shop or hang out?
I currently live in Greenpoint and my neighborhood spot is Nights and Weekends. People mostly see it as a bar but the food is amazing and there is never a wait for a table. Other gems are Fort Defiance in Red Hook, 1 or 8 in Williamsburg and my old haunt Bedouin Tent in Boerum Hill. My husband and I met in film class so we are always at BAM and Nitehawk Cinemas.
There's definitely a vibe to your brand, from the logo design (which we love!) to the video on your site. How would you describe it to someone who is new to your jewelry?
Thank you! My incredibly talented (and patient) friend, Paul Beresniewicz created the logo, and the video is the work of my brilliant husband Paris Mavroidis. I am most drawn to surreal and psychedelic art and I wanted to embody that in the brand while still feeling very polished. When building the concept for the film, my husband an I watched a lot of Avant Garde films from the '20s and '30s for inspiration (a short by Marcel Duchamp was particularly influential). Additionally, the work of artist Ellen Gallagher, photographer Erwin Blumenfeld and filmmaker Luis Buñuel were always in the back of my mind when I was conceiving Baker and Black.