The Jewellery Designer Finding Inspiration in Modernism’s Sculptural Shapes

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BAR Jewellery, Collection 2Courtesy of BAR Jewellery

From Constantin Brâncuși to Jean Arp, BAR Jewellery’s softly sculptural pieces find their roots in the Modernist greats

  1. Who is it? London-based sustainable jewellery brand, BAR Jewellery
  2. Why do I want it? Consciously created pieces taking inspiration from Modernist sculptures
  3. Where can I buy it? Online at BAR Jewellery’s website

Who is it? Exhausted by the non-stop whirlwind of life as a luxury ready-to-wear designer, London-based Sophie McKay opted for a change of pace – and product – founding her brand BAR Jewellery in 2017 after eight years in the industry working for the likes of Burberry, Versace and Tom Ford. Born out of a desire to create something beautifully timeless, McKay’s simple, sculptural pieces serve as a trend-transcending antidote to the ever-changing world of fast fashion.

At the heart of the designs is McKay’s unwavering love of Modernism, and she cites the likes of Constantin Brâncuși and Jean Arp as key inspirations. “There’s something in their work I find so inspiring, it’s so pure and bold and completely unapologetic,” she explains. “They’ve made forms that are just so simple and beautiful.” McKay’s creative process is more akin to that of an artist, and feels more suited to her values, despite her fashion-focused career start. Her departure from Tom Ford was followed by a year-long freelance stint, taking her from London to India and leaving her with some much needed creative breathing time.

“I’ve always been creative, but I wasn’t sure what I actually wanted to do in life,” she says. “I was doing things like painting and I’ve always had a fascination with jewellery – I used to go and find my mum’s jewellery box and get out all the pieces and just look at them. I’m a bit of a magpie and I thought, now is the right time to do this. It was a meeting of lots of different passions,” McKay explains. “I still love fashion. Clothes move and I think that’s what’s beautiful about them, but with jewellery you can create something absolutely perfect, and make it stay how you want it to stay.”

Why do I want it? Created from dripped, molten wax moulds – which McKay crafts by hand – and cast in gold-plated or solid silver, BAR Jewellery has an added element of appeal for the conscious consumer in that it is created sustainably. All the metal used by both McKay and her casters is recycled; the packaging and printed materials are from sustainable sources. “I think it’s really hard but so important,” she explains. “I never wanted to put anything out into the world that was going to be harmful to the environment. As you grow as a business, it’s important to keep your values the same, that can make a really big difference. Hopefully, as I grow, I can make more of an impact and inspire people to shop a little better.”

The longevity of the pieces is also an important design consideration for McKay and each piece is created with a marriage of both inspiration and wearability in mind. “I wanted to create jewellery that I wanted to wear,” says McKay. “It needs to be inspiring for people but at the same time it should be comfortable, something that you want to wear without it interfering with your life or being really ridiculous. I feel like it’s an added extra to your outfit, a special detail that will make you feel special.”

Where can I buy it? You can buy the current collection on the BAR Jewellery website and at Luisa Via Roma, online and in their Florence store.