HVNTER GVTHERER - INTERVIEW
HVNTER GVTHERER - INTERVIEW //
We caught up with the beauty behind Hvnter Gvtherer to gain an insight into the artisan crafted jewellery label. Laura Prieto-Velasco founded Hunter Gatherer in 2011 to adorn the urban nomad with limited edition designs that pair ancient ideas with elegant minimalism. Raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania and armed with degrees in Metalworking and Design from the Tyler School of Art and San Diego State, Laura learned to appreciate the value of maximising limited resources and using recycled or sustainably sourced materials. This ethos fuels the label, making each piece by hand in her Chicago studio, Laura challenges wearers to think about jewellery as a platform for thinking about history and conscious living, rather than a reflection of passing trends. Committed to these values, Laura shares these ideas with students as an instructor at the School of the Art Institute.
Check out the interview with Laura below. Shop the latest collection here.
There is much to leave to the imagination about the designer behind Hvnter Gvtherer. Tell us a little bit about yourself as well as the others who help to create each collection?
I have a background in fine arts and design and teach at a fine arts school here in Chicago. I started exploring wearable production work in 2011 that became a side project to ideas I was working with in my art practice. Hvnter Gvtherer is basically the moniker under which I create limited production hand crafted metal and leather accessories. I have collaborated on ideas with others for a few projects but pretty much everything is made by my own two hands in my private studio, however I do call on the help of a few interns and former students every once in a while to give my hands a break form the stresses of metalworking.
What influenced you to choose a career in the art of jewellery?
While studying abroad in Rome, Italy (circa 2001) I discovered a museum dedicated to Etruscan objects and jewellery down the street from my university - which I visited ritualistically becoming an important part of my daily routine. Upon my return to the states I decided to give metal working a go and something inside me just clicked. I certainly struggled in the beginning as it was not something that came naturally yet I persisted despite those odds. There was something really seductive about the rawness of the material itself that got me hooked. I also love feeling a deep connection to human history through the process of using heat and physics to manipulate form. I don’t know, it just felt right for me and has become something I need to survive.
Can you give us a little insight into what it involves to be an artisan jeweller?
For me, being an artisan jeweller is very much about being connected to the material and how it interacts with or highlights the human form.
What draws you to the qualities of simplicity and functionality? How do you intend for these qualities to emanate from your work?
I find a lot of satisfaction in creating work that people - all different kinds of people - would actually wear; myself included. I always test drive my designs for a few months before releasing them. At one point I decided if I wouldn’t wear it I couldn’t expect others to either.
What are the main influences of your design process, and what attracted you to this way of design?
It’s really hard to pinpoint exact influences though as a whole I tend to be inspired by designers like Iris Van Herpen. I am interested in a holistic approach to design; and am deeply moved by collections and ideas that highlight this moment in time in an interesting way.
What are common inspirations for your work? How do you find yourself replenishing your inspiration sources, or do you merely stumble upon them?
I am certainly inspired by other designers and the way they transform the materials they work with but lately a lot of my inspirations have come from responses to my immediate environment and daily life in Chicago. I read a lot of technical books about metalworking and its history. I visit museums. I try to go see art and live music as much as possible. So many creatives also play a part in how I see and think about the things I create.
Originality and authenticity are important factors in your design process, How do you stay at forefront of contemporary jewellery?
I guess I don’t really think about that too much and try to just listen to my intuition on what is working and what should be edited out.
What emotions do you commonly associate with your work? How do you believe your pieces help to physically represent those emotions?
I try not to take myself too seriously; humour is pretty important to me. I don’t if know that comes across in my work though.
What do you believe is the most important characteristic of a piece of handcrafted jewellery?
Connection to the wearer - it has to feel right.
Your work is forward thinking and contemporary, who do you target your pieces towards?
I don’t really try to target anyone though I’m sure my work appeals to some sort of audience. Something that helps me stay focused through the process is having a secret muse in mind when creating pieces; whether it is a specific person who I know personally or a public figure/personality who inspires me.
What is sustainable luxury for you?
Beautifully crafted pieces that will live well past the owner’s lifetime
We are currently living in unfavourable circumstances today, especially for young people. How has the economic crisis influenced you as a young emerging label and your work?
It’s important for me to create work that is accessible - physically as well as conceptually. I founded my brand upon working with non-precious materials and adding value by focusing on the artistry I can achieve through the metal’s malleability and finish options. Powder coat has been integral to the process because it creates a durable protective barrier between the metal and skin, It also highlights the marks and imperfections of the process resulting in all pieces being unique and one of a kind.
What direction do you think you will take your brand next?
I’m looking to expand my palette of materials and processes. I don’t have a specific plan for the brand but I always try to let spontaneity keep things fresh for me.
What music have you been listening too while designing your latest collection?
Lots of local music, mostly gritty, dark, noisy avante garde artists and bands who I stumble upon or discover through friends. I am also a fan of witty, culturally relevant lyricism in some hip hop as well as the deeply guttural ballads of old flamenco folk singers.
Who do you feel are the three most influential designers in artisan jewellery for our generation?
There are too many great designers to list but two of the first jewellers to inspire an interest in artistic production work were German jewellery artists Karl Fritsch and Lisa Walker. Lately I have noticed a type of synergy happening where several contemporaries are working towards a greater vision, which I find encouraging and inspiring.
If the world was coming to an end, what would be your last meal?
Probably something Mediterranean finished off with a bowl full of cherries and a nice red wine shared with good friends of course!
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