The jewelry Kathleen Whitaker designs for her eponymous line exists within the contrast of hard and soft. Her Classic collection (the soft) plays with shapes that feel natural enough to wear every day while her recent Stone collection (the hard) is like the older sister: elegant, bold, and intimidatingly beautiful. With such vocal designs it’s easy to understand why minimalism, in wardrobe and interiors, holds such importance to Kathleen. We stopped by her LA studio to talk inspiration, aesthetics, and the influence her background in ceramics has on her approach to jewelry design.
Describe your collection in three words.
Sculptural, refined, balanced.
How has working with ceramics helped to sculpt the way you went about creating your own jewelry label?
The background in ceramics gave me a vocabulary for designing three-dimensional forms that are both sculptural and functional; a framework for balancing proportion and materials.
Do you have a muse for the brand? Could you tell us about a few of your other sources of inspiration?
I’m inspired by interiors; spaces are challenging and rewarding to design. How seemingly discordant elements — colors, eras, textures — can come together in the right way in the right space.
I don’t have a muse but have you seen a photo of Lady Pamela Hicks lately?
Your jewelry is simple and geometric. Who is the woman you see envisioned in this combination and how do you see her evolving ?
That the jewelry adheres to a quiet and understated aesthetic, it is subordinate to the style of the wearer. You wear it, it doesn’t wear you. And I think the customer appreciates the ease of that. I recently designed and released the Stone Collection, a sister line to the Classic pieces which have been in the market since 2009. The Stone Collection which features organic and rough-cut gemstones is the elevated counterpoint to the accessible, wearable pieces of the Classic Collection.
When did you first know you had an interest in fashion?
On my 16th birthday my grandmother gave me her charm bracelet that she wore all the time. It defined her (my aunt says when she thinks of her she thinks of the smell of l’Heure Bleue and the sound of that bracelet). That that material item was so much more than an ornament — that it held memories and sentiment and emotion — awakened me to the value and meaning in what we wear.
Does your interior decorating extend to your wardrobe?
Both my studio and home are white-washed, simple, reductive. My wardrobe follows that: basics with little pattern. But it tends to be a bit more layered and accessorized — I have at least two dozen belts and the same number of clutches and handbags.
Any styling advice for people who have a hard time wearing jewelry?
Start with a comfortable basic — like a thin, classic hoop — that you can wear all the time and think nothing of!