October 12, 2015

Uhuru Design's New Jewelry Line

Luxury contemporary furniture design firm, Uhuru Design, introduces an avant-garde new jewelry line!

by New York Spaces

Uhuru Jewelry
Uhuru Jewelry. MC Rueda, Uhuru’s head of branding, and Borah Betts

NYS: You are known as a luxury contemporary furniture and design firm with clients ranging from Google, to Saks, to The Ace Hotel, and George and Amal Clooney. What led you to start designing jewelry?

Uhuru Design: We've always been interested in developing a multidisciplinary design practice. From a design standpoint, jewelry and furniture have a lot in common. They share a long lineage of expert craftsmanship across cultures. They also share a strong focus on materiality. Fine jewelry and furniture tend to become heirlooms. They live a life with you before they're passed down to future generations. In that sense, both furniture and jewelry design align with Uhuru's vision of timelessness and sustainability.

NYS: You launched three fine jewelry collections. What is the difference and connective theme between them?

Uhuru Design: The collection is inspired by our neighborhood on the Red Hook waterfront. The way that the ocean coexists with industrial decay creates a surreal beauty that informs the look of our jewelry. Each of the three lines explores one facet of the waterfront.

NYS: Who designed the collections and what are their respective backgrounds?

Shards collection. Uhuru Jewelry.

Uhuru Design: Our jewelry is designed by Borah Betts and MC Rueda. Borah's background is in architecture but she's been designing and fabricating jewelry for almost a decade. MC was born and raised in Colombia. She's an art director at Uhuru, and co-designed the collection with Borah.

NYS: What are the names of the collections and what does each collection title stand for?

Uhuru Design: The three lines are called Boulder, Rune, and Shard. Boulder is forged with stones from the Red Hook waterfront. That's what gives each piece from that line its unique rough edge. For Shard, we attempted to evoke the forms of driftwood, or wood that's been exposed to the elements. The story behind the Rune line is a bit more complicated. Red Hook has a long history of Maritime trade, and was especially important to Nordic traders and settlers. We took ancient Nordic runes and reconfigured them into new runes that align with Uhuru's values.

Uhuru Jewelry

NYS: What does each collection consist of? What are the price ranges?

Uhuru Design: The collection consists of pendants, rings, bracelets, cuffs, collars, and earrings. The prices range from $200-$20,000. Each piece is hand-made to order, and is available in a range of semi-precious and precious metals, which of course factors into the price of each piece.

NYS: What is your jewelry inspired by? How does it tie into your furniture line?

Uhuru Design: Many of our latest designs adhere to a principle we call "subversive nature." The idea is that the design references the way natural structures form and then decay over time. We might draw inspiration from an eroded coastline, or a river canyon. We carried over the "subversive nature" principle from our furniture to our jewelry.

NYS: What kind of materials do you incorporate into your jewelry?

Uhuru Design: We use recycled precious metals and sustainably sourced gemstones. Uhuru is committed to keeping it ethical, and where possible, local. Our vision is that everything we design and produce adds to a greater good, meaning not only do we source sustainably, but our pieces are designed to last, and become heirlooms.

NYS: How and where is your jewelry made?

Uhuru Jewelry

Uhuru Design: Our jewelry is made by hand in our Red Hook workshop.

NYS: What kind of symbolism goes into the design of each piece?

Uhuru Design: For the Rune line, we combined and reworked Nordic runes into new runes that symbolize our core values.

NYS: What are the brand's core values?

Uhuru Design: The new runes we developed are: Axel, Keel, Gust, Sky, and Link. The names have Norse origins. They also evoke the Red Hook waterfront. They represent, respectively, Excellence, Integrity, Fortitude, Freedom, and Passion, which are our core values.

NYS: Are each of the jewelry designs available in various metals and finishes?

Uhuru Jewelry

Uhuru Design: Yes. Most of our pieces are available in yellow, rose or white gold and silver. Some pieces, such as our boulder ring, can be made with or without patina, and with black or white diamonds.

NYS: Can we expect more jewelry collections from UHURU soon?

Uhuru Design: The current plan is to add designs to our existing collections according a Spring / Fall release cycle. In February of each year, we plan to introduce a brand new collection.

NYS: Where can we find you?

Uhuru Design: Our current catalogue is on view at our Tribeca showroom at 74 Franklin St. You can find us online at uhurujewelry.com.

Uhuru Jewelry

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