In recent years I've come to realise the importance of community, more importantly, of supporting other young creative women with a vision, the talent and the work ethic to match. Holly Ryan, of namesake label HOLLY | RYAN, is one of these women to me.
There is a unique substance to Holly and to her business, an undeniable thoughtful undertone to all that she does, a quiet confidence and gratefulness. Considered, measured and informed in every decision, she's what I like to refer to quite simply as a 'well-rounded woman.' Someone I can learn from, listen to and subsequently felt very compelled to interview...
[ KARA TOWN ] I was first introduced to the world of HOLLY | RYAN via your thoughtfully curated Instagram account where you have a unique knack for sourcing pertinent quotes and sharing them:
“Good design is as little design as possible.” – Dieter Rams
How important is the relationship between both functionality + design and scale + balance in your work?
[ HOLLY RYAN ] My mother taught me the importance of functionality in design. Design without functionality is beautiful but impractical. To me it is the difference between a piece of jewellery being really intricate and unique but always getting caught on your cashmere, in comparison to the simplicity and timelessness of a piece that you can wear every day. The latter is definitely far more important to me. I like to design with a shape in mind and then by a process of subtraction, pull away the unnecessary elements until a form has reached its most reduced state.
[ KT ] How does this impact your design and the craftsmanship of each piece?
I think my perception of scale and balance is pretty intuitive. It is very personal and very important to me, but it also relies heavily on a test of quality. If a ring is too fine it will bend easily, thus detracting from the quality or functionality of the design. I am really particular about this type of thing. Construction has always been important to me, this resonates from my appreciation of architecture or large-scale sculpture. I love clean lines and simplicity but at times I also admire well-balanced chaos.
I really care about craftsmanship and I have always believed in quality over quantity. So, my jewellery is handcrafted in Australia from sustainably produced materials, by a team of 4 silversmiths and goldsmiths, including me. When you order from my website, your jewellery will be handcrafted especially for you. It’s personal.
[ KT ] To use another of the quotes you’ve shared:
"Simplicity is complexity resolved.” – Constantin Brancusi
Do you find it hard to balance the distinctive with the subtle?
[ HR ] I don’t know, I think they work together for me in a sense that I really appreciate ‘distinctively subtle’ design. When the distinction lies within the designs subtlety and you have to look more closely to discover how precious the item is and how much work has really gone into it. That is why a single gold stacker is special, it’s not a trend item, it is an investment piece. It is a little piece of luxury. You buy it for yourself, a friend, your mother or your grandmother. Age is not a factor and fashion trends are insignificant, because quality is timeless. I like the idea of creating pieces, which serve as memorable understatements.
[ KT ] Given your apparent interest in art, architecture and to most things related to design, how important are they to both your process and outcome?
[ HR ] Incredibly important. I hope to create pieces that tell a story, I hope that the wearer will have some kind of a connection to the piece because it will remind them of someone or someplace. Jewellery is romantic and nostalgic and it should move you in some way, just as art does. The world is so full of ‘stuff’. I want to create refined, honest pieces brought to life by the individuals who wear them. Jewellery should become a part of the wearer, a signature.
[ KT ] You’ve described your work as ‘…modern architecture in a wearable context, “ I know your recent SQUIGGLES collection was inspired by artist Richard Serra, who are a few of your other influences in these fields and why?
[ HR ] Luis Barragan, Carl Aubock and Tadao Ando amongst others...the list is endless because my inspiration is always changing. I think that fashion can be fairly repetitive, I always find art to be more visceral. So instead of delving into the history of jewellery or fashion, I look to architects, sculptors and painters for interesting methods and creative processes to apply to jewellery and I try to learn a new skill with every collection. My next collection for Fall/Winter’16 is inspired by Japanese ceramics and Constantin Brancusi’s ‘Bird in Space’ series of brass sculptures from the 1920s and I am using a process called 'lost wax casting' to create the designs. I always like to play off two different concepts/aesthetics against one another within a collection. It keeps things fresh.
[ KT ] When it comes to jewellery, to me, a notable lack of embellishments suggest a certain confidence in the wearer. Who do you feel is your HOLLY RYAN woman and why?
[ HR ] Rather than ever having designed for myself as I am today, I have always and will always design for the woman who I wish to someday be. The Holly Ryan woman is a woman who I admire or who inspires me. She is confident and driven, intelligent and informed; she is a realist Monday to Friday and a dreamer on the weekends. She is creative at work and at home, she has a great sense of humour and she is grateful.
WORDS | KARA TOWN and HOLLY RYAN
IMAGES | HOLLY RYAN