Interview w/ RED Haute Jewelry’s Alison Rutherfurd
15 Jul, 2012
With a decade of jewelry design behind her, Alison Rutherfurd combines her natural instinct and formal training in design to create her unique jewelry line, RED Haute Jewelry. Inspiration from nature and a love of visual texture infuse her work along with her eye for color, balance, and proportion. Her one-of-kind creations combine organic flair with rich color combinations, and have a simple and classic look that can be worn everyday. Each piece of jewelry is hand crafted using quality materials such as 14K Gold, Gold Vermeil, and Sterling Silver. Her jewelry is imbued with the fresh colors found in faceted semi precious stones, vintage glass, shells, leaves, and often a Peacock feather or Ostrich plume!
Dig In Magazine: Hi Alison! Thanks so much for talking to Dig In Magazine! I love your jewelry line, RED Haute Jewelry! Where did you grow up and where are you based out of now?
Alison Ramsey Rutherfurd: I grew up predominately in North Carolina and AZ. Now I live and work in San Francisco.
DIM: Growing up, were you always creative or did that come later?
AR: The creative process has always been a love of mine. I can remember spending hours on end as a young child drawing, sketching, painting, or dreaming of what to create next. Piles of sketch books filled my chest of drawers as a young girl. I still have many of these archived works! My foundation was pencil, graphite, and charcoal drawings, mostly in the realm of portraiture. I love the human face with all of its various details, angles, and expressions and capturing all of that within a charcoal drawing has always been and will always remain a source of great inspiration and joy for me.
DIM: How did you get into designing jewelry?
AR: I have always loved adornment, fashion design, and artistry in one form or another! Specifically with jewelry design, which I began in 2001. What originated as a hobby at my dining room table culminated into a full-blown business. I wanted to take a hiatus from the Interior Design/Architecture world. I had owned a Design Coaching company prior to jewelry design. It was a design coaching business with the specific intent of challenging the traditional model of interior design. Empowering individuals to trust their own creative abilities, take risks, and design interior living and work environments that supported their visions and all of their commitments in life. The mission was to have people create and live in environments that astounded, nurtured and inspired them. I also spent my time in an art gallery in downtown SF selling the fine art work and lithographs of Chagall, Picasso, Francis Bacon and Miro ( to name a few ) and having worked for the SF MOMA Artists Gallery in Fort Mason, I wanted to try something new and I have always enjoyed using my hands to create, which is why I chose not to pursue a career in the graphic design world. No endless hours on the computer for me, thank you!
DIM: I understand that you have a background in design of all sorts, what did you study?
AR: Not a native San Franciscan, I moved here in 1995 to attend graduate
school for Graphic Design at The Academy of Art University. Having completed my undergraduate degree in the field of Interior Architecture and after working with an architect in Tucson, AZ for a time, I wanted to expand my horizons and attend graduate school. I had developed a yearning to return to San Francisco after visiting in 1993 and when I arrived in 1995, I knew this was the place for me.
DIM: What is the inspiration behind your jewelry designs?
AR: Designing and developing a larger “eco-conscious” line of jewelry
where I am utilizing vintage materials, the use of re-purposed gold
and sterling wires and chain, vintage glass, vintage brooches
(specifically) for recycling/reusing/repurposing old jewelry into new.
Keeping the continuum of the story behind the vintage brooch alive!
DIM: Where do you draw inspiration from?
AR: I like to clip images from magazines and other publications whether it
be images of current fashion design trends, a cool photograph of a
landscape or piece of architecture, images of fine art, images of
nature (obscure and unique flowers, etc.) I keep a collection of
these visual items and set to work! Generally, yes, sketches of
necklace and earring ideas first and then experimentation with the
various colors and textures found in semi-precious stones, crystals,
vintage glass/beads, sterling/gold/black gunmetal chain, from my
enormous collection of jewelry design items. Music is always on.
The type of music I am listening to greatly impacts and directs the
formation and design of whatever piece I am working on. I generally
just allow my creative instinct to drive the design and I know when a
piece is “done,” it just “feels” right! I like to think of my art
and craft as the creation of “wearable sculptures.” I am most
certainly a right-brained driven person!
DIM: Who or what has influenced you the greatest in life?
AR: People who are inspired by and impassioned with what they do, regardless of what it is!
DIM: What types of materials do you use to create your jewelry?
AR: 14K Gold, Gold Vermeil, Sterling Silver, faceted semi-precious stones,
vintage glass, vintage brooches, faceted crystals, and feathers.
DIM: Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry that is part of your line? If so, why is it your favorite?
AR: Currently loving the vintage brooch pieces. I love hunting around in high end vintage shops for these little gems with a history behind them.
DIM: What do you love most about designing jewelry and fashion, in general?
AR: For me, designing jewelry has become a process whereby I get to create “wearable sculptures.” I love that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the jewelry design process. It is so subjective and there will inevitably always be an audience for any type of jewelry and/or fashion design. I particularly enjoy creating one-of-a-kind pieces and custom work for individuals based on THEIR aesthetic and ideas.
DIM: What do you love most about what you do?
AR: I love that I have the opportunity to continually invent and re-invent the design process. I love that there are an infinite number of ways to put together all of the various “ingredients” (i.e. wire, chain, stones, glass, feathers, crystals, etc. etc.) that make up my craft. The sky is the limit, as they say.
DIM: What are your interests and hobbies?
AR: I am a 10 year veteran of Bikram Yoga. This outlet keeps me centered
spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally! I spend time with my highly active and vibrant 6 year old twin boys. They continually guide me (unbeknownst to them) to be grounded in the true importance of life (ie, family, love, responsibility, accountability, and responsibility.) I feel that childrens’ souls CHOOSE their parents and there is a reason that I have been given twin boys. I also love to socialize and spend time with friends. I think that community, mutual support and collaboration is what it is all about.
DIM: Where do you show and sell your jewelry?
AR: Predominately on-line through my website and currently at RAG Co-op, Wonderland, and Lava 9. I am in the process of expanding into posh boutiques nationwide. With a list of 300+ boutiques throughout the nation, my goal is to be a brand that is well
known within these fashion savvy communities. After taking a 4 year
hiatus to raise my twins, I am in the process of bringing RED Haute
Jewelry back into the fold again!
DIM: What fashion organizations are you involved in?
AR: San Francisco Fashion and Merchants Alliance, CreateSF, Innovative Fashion Council, San Francisco Fashion Week, Evolution, Design Capsule, Urban Stitch, Urban Darling, and 360 Fashion.
DIM: Do you have a large following of people that follow RED Haute Jewelry?
AR: A couple thousand within my mailing list as well as 1000+ on my Facebook page.
DIM: What are your future plans for RED Haute Jewelry?
AR: Continuing to collaborate with local SF fashion/artist colleagues and
friends to create events that are developed to support local
designers and the economy. I love working with fellow designers and
artisans, and feel that community, team work, and mutual support is the
way to go! After all, as cliche as it sounds, we’re all in this
together, regardless of your economic or social demographic and
background. I also want to focus more on pulling in various
charitable organizations into these events to give back to the
community. With this community based theme in mind, I have a
dream/vision of having a shared warehouse/studio/creative space for
jewelry & fashion designers, photographers, painters, etc. to come
together. It would be a place to create…choosing to take a break from the
typical artisan “solitary” creative space and be in a creatively supportive environment. I’d like to call it The RED Haute Factory!
RED Haute Jewelry Related Links:
RED Haute Jewelry Website: http://www.redhautejewelry.com/
Love to All!
DIM: Thanks so much and best of luck with RED Haute Jewelry!!!