Kay Wang is a designer-maker based in Brooklyn, New York. Handmade jewellery is her speciality, however it would be unfair to pigeonhole her as simply an accessories designer. Kay makes everything; from from linen kitchen towels and beautiful spoons to exceptional made-to-order jewellery, her creations are timeless, useful and beautiful.
Since 2011, Kay has been at the helm of The Things We Keep, a minimalist jewellery and homeware business. Inspired by history, heirlooms and the precious treasures we collect during our lifetimes, the brand is a mix of architectural shapes, fairtrade and conflict-free materials and tactile finishes.
Having worked in marketing for a fair few years, Kaye clearly has a strong eye for detail and a wonderful ability to develop the defining features of each of her jewellery collections. Making each piece in her NYC studio, rings, bracelets and necklaces are inspired by a strong mix of art forms, styles and movements. Cave paintings, Bauhaus, stories of valour and adventure and of course, her own tastes and preferred flavours, lend every unique collection a wonderful sense of narrative.
‘I do things from start to finish.’ she says, ‘I design and I also fabricate, and though jewellery’s specifically what I do, it’s not beadwork. It’s casting, it’s working with wax, it’s working with metal. It has traditionally not been considered an art. It’s traditionally been considered skilled labor, which adds another layer of complexity. So I guess the short version is I don’t have a particular label.’
The Things We Keep is all about craftsmanship. The idea that the small label is preserving traditional smithing techniques, making them appealing to contemporary collectors, is part of what makes Kay’s work so attractive. Bending and shaping metal to create symbols and signifiers that can be passed down from one generation to the next is a thing of beauty and something that infuses maker culture a particularly special meaning.
Blending elements of sophisticated, trend-led fashion with rustic, simplistic materials, The Things We Keep is my latest obsession. I probably have Kay’s Instagram feed to thank for that; I’m a sucker for stylish interiors and snaps of other people’s beautiful cats.
With a modern aesthetic and a sensibility rooted in a love of the past, Kay and The Things We Keep bring a world of influences together to make our spaces and our bodies a little brighter and more meaningful.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @boogiemargaret