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Designer Spotlight: Kristine Dee

Jeweler Kristine Dee incorporates thoughts of the past and the present in her latest collection.
Designer Spotlight: Kristine Dee Jeweler Kristine Dee incorporates thoughts of the past and the present in her latest collection.

The heat of summer has slowly been whittled away by the infrequent showers of June, and while we're slowly transitioning into rainy weather-appropriate garments, one part of our wardrobes remains untouched: our accessories. When well-crafted, intricately designed, and made of gold and timeless diamonds, accessories are season-less, and never go out of style.

Jewelry designer Kristine Dee is one designer who believes that precious accessories are timeless, that they can transcend seasons, even lifetimes. She creates jewelry without seasons in mind, only contemplating whether her clients will pass the sparkling treasures on to succeeding generations to be cherished for a long time to come. So it's but natural that her newest pieces are inspired by the future, “not so much of advanced machinery and images of future worlds,” she says, “but more of having in our possession a piece which touches us and reminds us of all good things past and present."

Click on the links after Kristine Dee's Designer Spotlight interview to view and read more about her latest jewelry collection.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME A DESIGNER?
I love making things. I just wanted to make something with my own hands and see what it will look like in the end. Ever since I was a kid, I loved well-designed products, like shoes, personal accessories, home items and furniture. I was always curious [about] how a piece is made.

HOW DID YOU START AS A DESIGNER?
I took up Industrial design in DLSU-CSB for my undergrad. After graduating, I helped out my father in his furniture business. Then after a year, I decided I wanted a change and wanted to learn more so I applied to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York for my Master's Degree in Industrial Design, together with my husband, Sheldon Villanueva Jr. We focused on furniture design and went to Denmark Design School for a Scandinavian Furniture Design program. We stayed in New York for a bit of work experience and eventually decided we wanted to settle back in Manila to start a family.

In the midst of doing masters in Industrial Design, I took Silver and Gold Smithing programs as well in Pratt Institute. I was so happy I could wear the pieces I made right away. And this got me hooked on fine jewelry making.

My jewelry is an outcome of combined training in industrial design, furniture design and manufacturing, and jewelry manufacturing. It is truly amazing to combine all these and come up with unique pieces for people to wear and cherish.

WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?
To make fine jewelry pieces that are truly unique and extra special, that transcends trends while keeping in mind form, function and aesthetics. Each piece must also “communicate” with its target audience.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
It depends on the project. For ready-made pieces, my ideas come from a range [of] things I find interesting, from beautiful bridges in a particular country I recently visited, to our pet arowana. But for each client, my inspiration is the client. I analyze her personality and style, her way of wearing jewelry and clothing.

WHO ARE YOUR STYLE ICONS? YOUR STYLE INFLUENCES/INSPIRATIONS?
In architecture, Santiago Calatrava. In sculpture, Constantin Brâncuşi. In fashion, Cristobal Balenciaga. Style icons and influences range from Lady Gaga to Dita Von Teese and Audrey Hepburn.

WHICH DESIGNERS/ARTISTS DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
Here, I admire the work of my co-Triad partners: Paul Syjuco and Michelline Syjuco and their dedication to their work.

WHO WOULD YOU LOVE TO DRESS?
I would love to have Cate Blanchett wear my pieces.

WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF TIMELESS STYLE?
Audrey Hepburn.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A DESIGNER?
Bringing down the cost of making fine jewelry pieces so I can pass the savings on to my clients.

WHICH ASPECT OF THE DESIGN PROCESS DO YOU ENJOY MOST?
Finishing! I feel so fulfilled so see the piece in all its glory.

WHAT'S THE BEST CLOTHING ITEM/ACCESSORY WOMEN/MEN SHOULD HAVE?
Beautiful earrings for ladies, and outstanding rings for men.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GARMENT OR FASHION ACCESSORY?
Attention-grabbing rings.

ANY CURRENT TRENDS THAT YOU'RE FOND OF? ANY CURRENT OBSESSIONS?
Special headpieces. Maybe I should make na.

HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED AS A DESIGNER?
My style has matured and become softer and more feminine than first collections. I was very idealistic then.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER?
Can I say two? First, the yearly collections and collaborations I make with Triad. Second, private pieces I make for clients who leave with a satisfied smile.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU HAVE RECEIVED ABOUT YOUR WORK?
That my pieces look hard yet soft at the same time.

WHAT ASPECT OF DESIGN DO YOU SEEK TO MASTER/HAVE DEVOTED TIME TO MASTER?
Accounting?

ASPIRATIONS FOR THE BRAND IN THE FUTURE?
To be the one in everyone's mind when it comes to special, bespoke and unique jewelry pieces.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
Play with my three-year old son and go out of town with the family and watch a movie in the theater.

FAVORITE SHOPPING AND TRAVEL DESTINATIONS?
Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Japan, and Scandinavia.

DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING?
Headbands/headpieces.

WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO? FILMS YOU WATCH? BOOKS YOU READ?
Pop, R&B and hip-hop. I like romantic comedies, like The Proposal. For books, Sophie Kinsella, and architecture and design books.

OTHER PASTIMES, PASSIONS, INTERESTS ASIDE FROM FASHION?
Furniture and home items.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
Massages and taking care of my skin, because I have to work hard at it.

WHAT OTHER TALENT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE?
I would really love to be able to sing well. Unfortunately, God did not bless me with this.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
My diverse design background. This is the core of my design philosophy now.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PHILIPPINE FASHION INDUSTRY NEEDS MOST IN ORDER TO FLOURISH?
Grants and subsidies.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING DESIGNERS?
It is very competitive nowadays. While design and quality are first and foremost, creating for a niche market will make you stand out from the rest.

Click here to see Kristine Dee's Summer 2010 collection.

Click here to see her Designer Directory.


—Jae de Veyra Pickrell, Editorial Assistant

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