Studio Visit & Interview | Louise Douglas

Located on Nile Street in Nelson, the Louise Douglas Jewellery studio is as warm and lovely as its occupants.

Attracting lovers of nature and the abstract, jewellery designer Louise Douglas hand-makes her organic-inspired collections under her own label in the vibrant and beautiful city of Nelson.

We chat to Louise and find out about her love for the ocean, her escapes over the hill to Golden Bay and her favourite dish to cook friends. Spending a few hours watching her turn moulds and metals into mystic and magic, we oohed and ah-ed over her beautifully delicate, however remarkably robust, creations.

Located on Nile Street, the Louise Douglas Jewellery studio is as warm and lovely as its occupants. If you're heading down to Nelson, pop in and say hello from us! I am sure Louise and her wonderful assistant Sarah would love to meet the extended Tessuti family. And if you're lucky, you'll get to meet their curly black haired (and very smoochy) four legged companion Daisy!

When did you start making jewellery and what was the motivation for doing so?

I have been making jewellery for 24 years. (Wow, that sounds like an awfully long time!) I have been fascinated with jewellery since I was a little girl, my grandmother loved jewellery and I was always digging through her jewelry boxes and dressing up. I started making jewellery when I was 18 years old and selling it to fashion and design stores throughout New Zealand. I then moved to New York when I was 21-years-old and started to work as a designer for large fashion jewellery houses. I have done a few classes along the way, but I really learnt most of my skills on the job or from experimentation.

Tell us about your current collections that are in store at Tessuti. What were some of the inspirations for these pieces?

Tessuti has a large range of my work. I make a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces for them because I know their customers like pieces that are a little more unique. I have always been inspired by the intricacies of the ocean and the natural world in general. I love art and fashion too, but the truth is, what I am most inspired by is what stems from nature. I look at a lot of old scientific botanical-style drawings when I am designing but I definitely stylize things to fit in with my own aesthetic. My main aim is for people to feel closer to the beauty of nature when they wear my work.

What kind of woman is the 'Louise Douglas' jewellery wearer?

All kinds of women wear and collect my work. I think they really appreciate that it is New Zealand-designed and made. I also think they appreciate that it is feminine and delicate, fashionable yet timeless!

Tell us a bit about your workshop space.

I have a small workshop and boutique in Nelson where I make and sell my collections from. It’s on the fringe of town and surrounded by mountains and nature. It is a lovely sunny place to work and I love getting to meet my customers when they visit my little shop.

Any artists/designers who work you admire? Where do you draw your inspiration for ideas from?

I have quite a few, in terms of fashion jewellery I love Alexis Bittar. He's a true modern costume jewellery master. I also adore the work of San Francisco designer Jeanine Payer, but that is really just the tip of the iceberg - I love so many. As far as inspiration, I might see a plant or a texture or an organic drawing and it will inspire me to build a collection around it. I see jewellery possibilities in a lot of the natural things I find. From here I start with a few rough sketches of how the collection will look as a whole and then I do a finer sketch for the carving – which I make from wax. I then create moulds and casts using the lost wax casting process.

I always loved exploring rock pools as a child, and I hope my collections will inspire people to admire and protect the delights that hide on our native shorelines.

How are you enjoying your summer? Any holiday traditions or favourite places you like to visit?

I just took a road trip around the South Island with my son and husband in a camper van. The natural beauty was so stunning. I love the Punakaiki area on the West Coast. The seaside is so rugged and wild. I think we will also stay here in Nelson as our surrounding areas are very inspiring. The beaches and landscapes are especially gorgeous!

Where would we find you in the weekends?

I spend as much time as I can with my family - most of us have moved to Nelson. Some weekends we try to sneak over the hill to Golden Bay, it’s very relaxing over there. On my days off I like to go second-hand shopping as I love finding quirky things to use for my jewellery displays.

Favorite dish to cook friends?

Vietnamese summer rolls or pesto deviled eggs.

The latest gift you received was...

My husband bought me earrings by New Zealand jeweller Ruth Baird for my 40th birthday. I have a mild earring obsession!

See our full range of Louise Douglas' jewellery here

Back to Journal