Design can be sustainable commercially

"It takes time and confidence to come up with your own vision, but your eyes must be wide open enough to see how it could be realised commercially," says jewellery designer Martina Hamilton.

What’s your background?

I did a degree in fine art and design, specialising in sculpture. I loved it.

When I was just out of college, there was some training available in jewellery making, and I thought ‘I will give that a go’.

I could afford the materials and equipment you needed to get started working with precious metals. It was just a logical flow of things that happened.

I have Hamilton Fine Art Gallery about 10 years and the shop, The Cat and The Moon, is about 25 years open. I employ 10 people.

My jewellery is stocked by Arnotts Irish Jewellery Collective, Avoca Stores, DesignYard, House of Ireland, Kilkenny Design Centre, Kilkenny Shop, Steensons and through my own shop.

What’s a typical workday like for you?

My dogs have me up at 6am. As we are busy all year round, I find that if I want to push a new idea forward I must start early in the day or it doesn’t happen.

I have a great team. Everyone understands their role in the business. We’re a well-oiled machine in that regard. Designing is one of those things that is a constant preoccupation. I have a new collection which I am dying to make, but I am not ready to do that yet, so I am taking lots of photographs, and thinking about how I might do it.

By the time I am at final-stage drawing — I can hand it to somebody to start
cutting it, it will already be nearly done.

Tell us about a recent project or design/ favourite project or design you have worked on?

This year, I opted to add a couple of statement pieces into the existing collection, Shore, because it has sold so well all year. I had an opportunity through an interest in literature and in WB Yeats to go to Japan.

When I was there, I kept seeing lovely graphics of the fan shape — that was the final trigger that pulled the Shore collection together.

I had been looking for a shape to hang it on, because to make a collection, it must be distinctively different to everything else out there.

For this addition to the collection, we have gone for an open-fan shape, and a little pearl to soften it. I had a launch recently at DesignYard to launch the new statement pieces.

Shore Sterling Silver Necklace, €175 from Martina Hamilton, jewellery designer.

What’s your design style?

I don’t feel an affinity with any one style. I try to design something classical that feels good to the touch, is beautiful and comfortable to wear.

What/Who inspires your work?

Nature is my muse.

What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if you have any)?

I am mindful when people come into the shop of what jewellery they are wearing.

If I see something that is fresh or interesting or a different shape, I will notice them, but I don’t really make a study of it. You have to make your own way in design.

What’s your most treasured possession?

About 10 years ago, my mother gifted me money to have something special from her.

I went to the annual open submission RHA exhibition in Dublin and bought a beautiful brooch of a mother and child by sculptor Imogen Stuart.

Martina, has selected one of Ireland’s leading garden designers, Leonie Cornelius, as her brand ambassador as she launches five new pieces to her Shore Collection.

Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

The first person that comes to mind is Alison Ospina of Greenwood Chairs.

We recently sold a beautiful rocking chair with a companion child’s chair, handmade by Alison.

The simplicity of its construction shows great skill and craftsmanship.

What would be a dream project for you to work on?

I’d love to work on a large-scale sculpture. I am very happy with where I am right now, but if the opportunity came along, I would probably climb over a few people for it!

Have you any design tips for us?

If you are a designer, the trick is to have a signature style. It takes time and confidence to come up with your own vision, but your eyes must be wide open enough to see how it could be realised commercially.

When you come to make a product, you must do it at a price point that is realistic in terms of the fashion or style around 

Facebook: MartinaHamilton.jewellery 

Instagram: Martina.Hamilton

Hamilton Gallery.


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