Graduates of 2011: Rachel Boston
Rachel Boston is a London based jewellery designer, chosen by MINT in our survey of the best graduates of 2011. Since graduating from Central St Martin’s, Boston has set up her business and is launching her new collection ‘The Protector’. We caught up with her to see how her first year out of university has been so far.
What was the inspiration for your new collection ‘The Protector’?
I wanted to continue on from my graduate collection, which was inspired by people who collect insects, but to be more refined and commercial. I have a collection of dead beetles and I was given a scorpion sting as a gift, so I made casts of these and went from there. Casting is really important to me – the pieces are hand made but are also directly cast from the actual organic form, so that they are in their truest form.
I really like the forms of insects; they’re not beautiful in the traditional sense of the word, but people have a visceral attraction to them because they are fascinating. I’m always attracted to unconventionally beautiful things; I like the underdog. I wanted to take what people perceive as frightening and ugly and make them beautiful and wearable, and maybe change peoples’ perceptions and assumptions about what beauty is.
What have you been up to since graduating?
I went to New York for three months where I studied Diamond Grading at the Gemological Institute of America which was incredible. I also worked for a wholesale jewellery company in NYC, designing engagement rings for clients including Vera Wang. Then I came back to London and decided to launch my own collection so I’ve been busy working on that.
What’s been a highlight for you since graduating?
Definitely being in New York, and working for the wholesale company. It was interesting to see how a company works on such a huge production line, they were all really nice people and taught me a lot.
What do you think is the hardest thing about being a recent graduate?
Lack of money. In the beginning I found it difficult to stay motivated (and not take naps in the day). I find working by myself all day hard – going from a workshop of 40 people to a workshop of 1 – but as time’s gone on I actually really enjoy it.
How has your work progressed since you graduated?
I feel much more confident now because everything is down to me, The Protector is much more focused and represents my own style.
My graduate collection didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted. I was listening to so many conflicting opinions from different tutors – something I really struggled with at CSM was knowing to really listen to yourself because only you know what’s best for you. The pieces I’m most proud of in my graduate collection are the pieces I came up with by myself and the tutors didn’t really like (the beetle wing case ring and bracelet).
What do you miss about being at university?
I miss having coffee breaks, the amazing facilities, workshop and library at CSM. I miss being surrounded by creative people everyday and bouncing ideas off each other. I don’t miss killing myself for deadlines and the stress, I wish I’d been a bit more relaxed, I’d probably get the same results anyway.
What did you find the best and worst things about CSM?
The people, and the reputation helps, it gives you recognition as people instantly respect the establishment. The worst is that they push you to be so conceptual, and if that’s not in line with the product you want to bring out it’s confusing. I don’t want to be an artist, although I do see my work as sculpture for the body, I want it to be wearable.
How did it feel shooting your first lookbook?
It was really exciting to see my jewellery on people, and to see it styled so well. And working with such a talented team of people took the stress off. It was odd, it felt like I was watching it from somewhere else – it’s so far from my homemade photo shoots in my flat to being in a studio watching it all come together.
It felt like a step in the right direction – it means I can start making my mark and get my foot in the door with a good body of work behind me.
What is next for you?
I’m working with a jewellery collective, Aurum of London, there are five of us CSM graduates – looking for pop-up shops and getting into trade shows. We’re trying to make it a platform for all kinds of people who have a creative narrative in their work.
I have some ideas for my next collection, all I know for sure is that it’s not going to be so nature based. I’d also love to do costume jewellery for a film, something futuristic/sci-fi and also try doing catwalk.
Who would your dream collaboration be with?
I’m beginning a collaboration with artist Christopher Orlando Page, I’m really excited, he’s so talented and we appreciate a similar aesthetic so I think we’ll work really well together. And I’d love to be commissioned by a museum, like the Hunterian or the Wellcome Collection.
Which designers do you look up to?
I really look up to Stephen Webster, from a business point of view he’s done so well, he’s created an entire empire which is inspirational. It’s impressive how he has managed to stay edgy and different but also luxurious and charge high prices, which is rare in the jewellery world. I also like Theo Fennell, Yves Saint Laurent, Azzedine Alaia, Alexander Wang and ACNE. I love brands whose whole ethos and advertising is cool and effortless.
Who do you design for?
I try not to be too specific, I want to be appreciated by everyone, and not to to be trend based as I want it to be treasured for a long time. I imagine quite a fashion savvy customer, someone who dresses/thinks for themselves, they don’t follow the high street and likes to have fun with dressing up.
My jewellery is for both men and women – it is quite masculine and tough. It was a conscious decision in a way, I don’t think there’s a lot of good men’s jewellery, it’s often naff and I don’t think girls mind if jewellery is made for men or women. So it can be for women whilst also filling the gap in the market for well made, edgy men’s jewellery.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I’d like to have international stockists, to be in department stores like Liberty’s or Harvey Nicholls, and eventually have my own boutique. I love working with other people so I’d like to do more collaborations, and travel and see the world.
Rachel Boston’s jewellery is currently available on her website and on Not Just A Label.