It is a hot day in July when I arrive in Faaborg by bus. I am about to visit Stina Lind and Kevin James Egan, the two designers and the driving force behind the renowned Danish / Australian jewellery design brand, Lind & James. After walking through the idyllic Grønnegade, full of small colourful houses, I am warmly welcomed in their studio situated in one of the charming town houses. I know in advance that they are very busy due to the huge demand for their jewellery. Also, they are preparing to present their new styles at Copenhagen Fashion Week in August. I do not, however, feel the hectic atmosphere one could imagine would fill the workshop in such a situation- rather I am met by a overwhelming tranquility. In fact, there is a sense of peace and a creative force all over the place, but it is not until the end of the interview and after hearing their story that I realise just how strong the force actually is. We take a seat in the workshop and the conversation quickly turns to their designs and how the development of a piece of jewellery takes place at Lind & James.
How do you create your jewellery?
Kevin: Our jewellery is handmade in our small workshop in Faaborg. Everything is made y us and our apprentice, Louise, except when a piece of jewellery needs to be gold plated, then it will be sent to a workshop in Copenhagen.
The result of handmade jewellery is more detailed and unique and we cannot materialise our vision by doing it any other way. Very few pieces of our jewellery have been casted and when we cast jewellery it is not to make our job easier but to use the technique and expression that casting provides. It is not a given that we will always continue to work as we do today. We are constantly evolving and would like to try as many techniques as possible.
Kevin especially has a technical approach to his work, and when I looked in one of his sketchbooks, he told me that the sketches are like baking recipes. His way of working with jewellery design is parallel to an approach for baking bread, calculations and degrees must be precise to obtain a sublime result.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Stina: We find our inspiration when traveling, in architectural and artistic styles, in materials and experimenting through the craft. Our education was strongly design based and, in addition, it involved a broad understanding for, and experimentation with, different methods of craftsmanship which spread across several related disciplines.
Much of our jewellery is developed over time; each piece begins as a small drawing in a sketchbook, and afterwards we talk about the ideas over dinner, when driving the car, or at the workshop. We cannot stop talking about work! It is so deep-rooted in us and it makes up the backbone of our relationship. Before we became a couple, we solved school assignments together and used each other as discussion partners.
You live and work in southern Funen – many may think that it is somewhat surprising that you settled this far away from the fashion scene and industry. Why did you choose be in Faaborg?
Stina: Funny you should ask, we often get asked this question. I do not quite understand it though. I think some people are making it sound more difficult to move out of the big cities than it really is. When we graduated in London it was important for us to find a place where there was space to work and also possibilities to begin a family life. When we came upon this house we saw it had everything we were looking for, it was just the place for us.
Kevin: It is also motivating to live here. We had to get it to work – we could not just get another job here in Faaborg. It was a dream, which had to come true, and fortunately it did! I also think it would be different if I was 25 years old and arrived alone to Faaborg without knowing anyone, then it would probably be harder to create relationships and networks. But we made the decision together, so it was not difficult for us to move and we are happy living here. We can find everything we need for our business online, we can send jewellery by mail, our son is in a kindergarten ten minutes away, the scenery is stunning in Faaborg and we buy groceries just around the corner. So we see no problem in living outside of the big cities.
Stina: In Copenhagen it is obviously easier to get spontaneous visits from the press or others that are interested and when you choose to move to the countryside. You have to be prepared that traveling for meetings and interviews become a part of the working hours, but then you plan in accordance. Furthermore, a lot can be sorted over Skype calls.
We spent a lot of time finding the right agent, as it was important that we connected with the person, and that it was someone who shared our passion and interest in communicating the jewellery. It is all about having the right people close to you. If you rise to the minor challenges that come along the way, you can live wherever you want. We do not think we limit ourselves by living in Faaborg. We travel a lot, Kevin is from Melbourne, and who ever knows where they will be in seven years? We certainly don’t!
What is the advantage of living in Faaborg?
Stina: The main advantage of living in Faaborg is that we can stay focused. We have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in our work and constantly improve. We do not get affected by things others in the industry might do, or by what is popular in the moment. We have space and time for family life and immersion in our work.
What has been your greatest success so far?
Kevin: The greatest success must be what we are doing right now, developing our business and heading in the right direction. We are constantly evolving and we probably always will because it is what drives and challenges us. Of course also the fact that what we have worked with for many years is being well-received and is still becoming more accepted.
What are the plans for Lind and James in the fall of 2014?
Stina: We are targeting the Danish market right now. Our new styles will be presented along with our current collection during Copenhagen Fashion Week in August in the showroom at STAY in Islands Brygge.
During my visit it occurs to me that I am not visiting just any jewellery designers. I am visiting a house, a workshop and a family where determination and passion are defining characteristics of both the business and everyday life. The place is saturated by a passionate curiosity to learn about and employ all possibilities in jewellery design. It makes me wonder where it all will take Stina and Kevin, and what their future designs will offer.
Over the three years Stina and Kevin studied together in London, they developed not only a private relationship, but also a strong professional relationship, which over the years has turned into a solid, artistic jewellery brand. They are dedicated advocates for finding the balance in preserving the craft and a love for jewellery design. They experiment and explore what various industrial equipment and tools can do for jewellery and crafts.
There is a fierce wildness and beauty in their design, which boils down to an elegant piece of jewellery – a portable piece of art that can be worn with pride.