Jewellery is “like a miniature sculpture that you can wear”, says Boodles’ head of design Rebecca Hawkins, explaining her passion for her work. “It’s tactile. And if you wear a piece for years, it can be intensely personal.”
Ms Hawkins has worked at the British jewellers since 1990, creating some of the company’s most iconic ranges. Her latest is The Poetry of Landscape, nine suites inspired by aspects of the British countryside, as seen through the eyes of artists such as Eric Ravilious and Paul Nash – as well as her own experiences.
“The collection really celebrates our design aesthetic and how the Boodles style has evolved over the years,” Ms Hawkins says. “Water, for example, is a recurring theme across our collections.”
The dream job
Coming up with ideas and concepts like this is just one part of Ms Hawkins’ job, which some might describe as one of the dream careers. “Purely designing is actually about 50 per cent of what I do,” she says, recalling the days she spends on press campaigns, demonstrating ranges at ladies’ events and doing in-store talks.
Each day for Ms Hawkins, who leads a team of four designers, is different. “If I was designing a new collection, one suite might take 40 hours to complete. The day would be spent purely designing.”
At other times she might be out finding inspiration – and this could be anywhere from an exhibition to a walk in the park. She says: “Often inspiration comes when you’re least looking for it, like on holiday.” It could be something as simple as a combination of colours.
For the Circus collection in 2013, “the first idea came from a mosaic floor in white and gold. Then once I was on the thread of mosaics I looked at more imagery that could help it come together.
“I’d seen some kaleidoscope art that was similar, even though it was a different source. Then I pulled in some archaeological ideas, such as beading. It’s about drawing different visuals together.”
Creating a design road map
Some of the photographs Ms Hawkins used as inspiration for The Poetry of Landscape she took four years ago and squirrelled away. “I take lots and lots of photographs,” she says, laughing. The ideas are then channelled into a mood board, which could include anything from photos, sketches and notes. “It’s a road map – even if we don’t quite know the route yet.”
Once she has a basic concept, Ms Hawkins will talk to Boodles chairman Nicholas Wainwright. She says he “is so passionate about jewellery, so he’s really open to new ideas”. Then she proceeds to the designing.
Outside the design phase, Ms Hawkins will view the work as it is progressing. Although she does not do any work on the jewellery directly, she says: “I provide lots of notes and I have lots of conversations at different stages, catching up with the project every couple of weeks to see how it’s going.”
Then she will work closely with the creatives involved in how the collections are presented in print, for example.
Although, like your children, you are not supposed to have favourites, there is a special place in Ms Hawkins’ heart for a pair of bracelets from the Wonderland collection. “They were a matched pair of cuffs called Sleeping Beauty that were slightly different in the design but you had to look really closely to see.”
And in The Poetry of Landscape she is especially fond of cuffs called The Tide, based on a woodcut by Paul Nash. “I loved designing it and everything about it has been exactly what I was hoping for.”