Dallas based Julie Cohn is a multi-hyphenate in the arts world. The trained painter collaborates with architects, creates public art projects, and specializes in a variety of product design ranging from dinnerware and prints, to rugs and wall coverings Cohn has made her foray into the fashion world through her eponymous jewelry collection of architectural and elegant hand-carved pieces that reflect her artistic flair.
At a time where there is an influx of jewelry designers creating one of a kind pieces, how do you differentiate your line from others?
I think because I bring to jewelry the aggregate of 35 years of art and design for many other industries, my work encompasses those influences rather than trend influence. I am also working in bronze, which sets me apart a bit.
Is there another designer that you feel is most similar to your? Who would you compare it to?
There are several designers whose work I greatly admire and I think that there is a bit of all of them in my work. I don’t think other people would necessarily say that they see these influences but stylistically a bit of Ted Muehling meets Etruscan meets DeVera with a little Maria Rosa thrown in.
You’ve built your business selling directly to woman rather than building a retail presence. Was this intentional?
I think there are so many more ways to get in front of your customer these days. Traditional retail is not the only model anymore and it seems like the great frontier to go direct to the customer.
Your background weighs heavily in textiles, collaborating on tabletop design, rugs, etc. – how did you transition to jewelry?
I was working in a design partnership and we had a contract to design drapery finials. We were looking for different methods of prototyping and came across Precious Metal Clay. I fell in love with the instant gratification of that product and began exploring it for jewelry. That eventually led me to casting.
Do you find yourself standing on your rugs now and feel a sense of pride? If so where/when did that happen?
I designed a lot of rugs for different manufacturers but I only purchased one design for myself, which is from my Shibui Collection for Surya Rugs. It is in the sitting room off my kitchen and it is a beautiful pale gold. Every time I walk by it I think, “I designed that”.
Where did most of your home design sell? Do you feel these stores could feature the jewelry line as well?
When I was manufacturing books with my company Two Women Boxing, we were in many stores that fit the sensibility of my jewelry; Barney’s, Neiman Marcus, Takashimaya, Joyce Boutique in Hong Kong, Bergdorf Goodman and many others. There is definitely a similar aesthetic for my jewelry in those stores.
A native of Dallas, TX you’ve built up a following at home…is there a store you dream of seeing the line sell with in New York?
I visit NY twice a year. I never have enough time to scour the retail scene. I always go to DeVera and Ted Muehling. I miss the presence of Takashimaya who carried my handmade books years ago. Takashimaya would be the kind of store that I would aspire to be in. It had a very curated collection of designers. I miss that in retail. There are so many products out there and there’s great redundancy.
What are your thoughts on merchandising jewelry into home departments such as ABC Carpet & Home?
I think ABC Carpet & Home is a great place to see a lot of different categories of product. They do a great job of representing a beautiful cross section of ethnic, traditional and modern design, however, personally I find that type of shopping experience a bit overwhelming.
You’ve contributed to many Dallas art installations…does this feed your passion for jewelry design or vice versa?
Art has always fed my design work. I am currently working on a public art project at the Love Field Airport in Dallas. It involves creating some very interesting pattern that is pierced in stainless and I find that seeping into my inspiration for new jewelry surfaces.
Is there one artist that has made the biggest impression on you and your collection?
There are a number of contemporary designers whose work I marvel at, but I keep coming back to the jewelry of Alexander Calder. I just think it is extraordinary for it’s elegance and simplicity. His use of mundane materials in a sophisticated way just inspires me to keep coming back for another look.
You’ve jumped around exploring your creative juices for over 35 years…what’s left to tackle?
When you design a lot of different products you don’t have time to get immersed in the technical details that could really make that product sing. You’re confined by the agenda of your manufacturer. What’s left to tackle is to more thoroughly explore the categories in which I’ve already designed. However, I’m always on a quest for the perfect affordable handbag. Maybe I’ll design that next.