Aoko Su: Symmetry and Muted Ornamentation, Chaos and Order, Transcending Place and Time

2013 accessories adornment Aoko Su Ashley Jerman design Inspiration jewelry Made in the USA metal Nature quality

We are so stoked to be carrying a new line of jewelry, Aoko Su, at both Revolver and Voyager. Drawing upon both architecture and the natural world as reference and inspiration, Aoko Su jewelry is elegant and minimal, but strong and beautiful in impact.  Recently I had the chance to interview Aoko Su designer Ashley Jerman about her career, travels, and inspiration. Here is what she had to say.



Did you always know you wanted to make jewelry? What started your career in jewelry design? Who, what, where were your initial inspirations?

I haven't always known that I wanted to make jewelry, but I have always known that I wanted to be a designer. The first time I ever remember feeling inspired and compelled to make jewelry was when I was 16 or 17. I was in Manhattan when I walked by some gallery in Chelsea with bright feather earrings in the window. This was the first jewelry that I remember seeing that struck me as unconventional and I thought it was the best. I loved the idea of wearing something that had once been living as accessory and I started making earrings out of flowers that I had picked. During and after college I always had a job or two. I consistently felt underutilized at jobs that I worked at and that my way of thinking was alien. Two years ago I decided I had had enough. I knew that I wanted to work for myself, assessed what I'm good at, and here I am.



What has been your trajectory? Are you classically trained or self taught? What is your advice for aspiring and up and coming jewelry designers?

I started taking jewelry making more seriously when I was 22 living in Montana. My friend and boss at the time, Jodi, showed me a couple of very simple techniques that made making professional looking jewelry seem accessible to me. After that point, I began consistently designing jewelry that was too complicated for my skill set and then figured out how to make it. My advice : the only thing that you can't do is what you think you can't do. That's it. I never let the constraints of my abilities affect what I want to make.




Reading your bio, it appears that you've lived in a diverse many places; Montana, New York, Seattle, now Richmond, Virginia. How have all of these places influenced you? Or is the act of being a nomad the main influence in your life and work?

I am inspired by manmade symmetry in urban areas and by the diversity of people that exist within them. Sometimes I will barely catch a glimpse of a woman that I walk by and see her hair pulled up a certain way and in a split second I will envision an earring on her empty ear. Then I'll go to the studio and make it. In contrast, I'm also influenced by the apparent chaos in the natural world and the order that lies beneath it. There is a sense of worldly-ness that is important to me to embed in my work; I think that is partially a product of traveling. I want my work to transcend place and time.





Your jewelry design has been compared to architecture (natural and manmade) in review. Is architecture an inspiration for you? How does architecture impact your life?

Yes. I am most inspired by Art Deco architecture right now. It represents the machine age. The symmetry and muted ornamentation - by our standards today - are almost too perfect of a balance.


I read in an interview that you mine your own rocks and cut your own stone! Amazing!! How did this interest and skill set come about? Why is it important to you that this be part of your process?


It all started out of necessity. I made a necklace out of a piece of fluorite from my mineral collection and started to get a demand for more. I couldn't find fluorite cut like this ANYwhere and miraculously found a lapidary machine over the summer in Montana. My soon-to-be husband is a glassblower and an expert with cold-working techniques that can be used on both glass and mineral specimens to grind, form, and polish. Together, we found beautiful rough fluorite specimens, among other gems, cut them into slabs and then hand-shaped and faceted each piece. As far as mining goes, I have an ever growing love and amazement for rough mineral specimens found within the earth and the time they took to grow. To find a pristine, double terminated Herkimer diamond within the dolomite rock of the Mohawk River Valley is something of a miracle to me. 


What is the future of Aoku Su? Where do you want to see yourself, and your jewelry, going?

I want to establish AOKO SU as a name in the fashion industry. My next project is creating a line that bridges between garment and accessory.


What are your current inspirations?


People and the myriad of styles that they wear on the street. I see potential for ornamentation when I see a striking woman.

Color exploration. I am becoming more enamored with colored stone every day. I love the brilliant hues of Pakastani tourmaline, and Mexican amethyst.


My blog is a direct reflection of images that inspire me.




(All images here within courtesy of Ashley Jerman/Aoko Su- all images copyright © 2013 / All Rights Reserved)


  


I haven't always known that I wanted to make jewelry, but I have always known that I wanted to be a designer. The first time I ever remember feeling inspired and compelled to make jewelry was when I was 16 or 17. I was in Manhattan when I walked by some gallery in Chelsea with bright feather earrings in the window. This was the first jewelry that I remember seeing that struck me as unconventional and I thought it was the best. I loved the idea of wearing something that had once been living as accessory and I started making earrings out of flowers that I had picked. During and after college I always had a job or two. I consistently felt underutilized at jobs that I worked at and that my way of thinking was alien. Two years ago I decided I had had enough. I knew that I wanted to work for myself, assessed what I'm good at, and here I am. 

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  • Li Ming on

    ashley Jerman Aoko Su with many stupendous jewelry to special appreciation. See that almost fundament of nature manifest in artist brain and sight. Thank you very much!

  • Simone Goodman on

    I just really love this stuff! It would be great to see Ashley Jerman collaborate with a big couture name.

  • Jessica on

    Simply beautiful stuff! Wut 2 buy, wut 2 buy?!

  • Anna Levy on

    I love Ashley’s perspective and her jewelry. She is one of the very few designers whose perspective is tangible in their work. Whether or not you like her designs, I think most would agree that her work is uniquely fresh and honest. Too many designers give us nothing but nonsensical lip-service about their “aesthetic” and act as if we, the consumer, will just soak up their greasy words without thought. If I hear another wannabe ramble on about their “aesthetic” I think I’ll lose it. Rock it out Ashley girl!!!


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