Orly Genger is a contemporary artist who creates large-scale installations with rope, and has exhibited at Mass MOCA, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and multiple galleries. Jaclyn Mayer studied design at the London College of Fashion and interned at Mayle and Doo.Ri before launching her own label. They teamed up in 2004 to launch a jewelry collection made from climbing ropes, electrical tape, cords, and chains. They have been designing together ever since, collaborating with VPL, Lela Rose, and WHiT.
Jaclyn, how has your collection evolved since its launch in 2004 with Orly? What was the aesthetic of your jewelry before?
Jaclyn: The aesthetic of my jewelry before was very delicate and made of fine materials. Both collections share an interest in non-traditional elements — before I used wood combined with pearls and gold. My collaboration with Orly is very different, mainly by the fact that it is a collaboration and I get to use Orly’s art as a starting place, and secondly because we are creating pieces that become key items in a person’s outfit versus something which is just an accent to the clothes.
At what point did the two of you join forces? How did the collaboration come about?
Orly: We met through the art world years ago. Jaclyn worked at a gallery and I was an artist briefly working with the same gallery. Soon after, Jaclyn moved to London for school but we stayed in touch even from abroad. On one of Jaclyn’s trips back home to New York, I invited her to come by my studio where I make sculpture. I had been a fan of Jaclyn’s designs and in fact there were several trades between us, jewelry for art and art for jewelry. I asked Jaclyn to bring some of her amazing jewelry with her to the studio so that I could borrow a piece to wear for an upcoming opening. Jaclyn showed up at the studio, jewelry in hand, and sat down amongst the bits and pieces of materials all strewn about. Casually, Jaclyn picked up some of my rope that was laying around and started weaving chain through it. A collaboration was born. It was a great moment. We haven’t stopped since.
Orly, your work has been displayed in museums through out the country. Is there an exhibition that was your favorite? Why?
Orly: I can honestly say that every major show I have done has been important to me and to the evolution of my work. Each show brought on the next. My most recent museum show was at Mass MoCA. That whole experience of creating the work for about a year in advance of the show, and then installing the work at the museum over the course of several weeks was definitely one of the most exciting times. I was preparing an installation that required on the one hand so much planning and on the other so much trust in the process and in my instincts. It was thrilling to see it all come together.
Are there any exhibitions in the works?
Orly: I’m currently working on a large scale installation for a public space in Manhattan.
Does your art work usually translate in to designs for your jewelry collection?
Orly: It’s been interesting to watch how my sculpture translates into jewelry and also my sculpture takes cues from the jewelry. There’s a dance going on.
What are some of the materials used in conjunction with the climbing ropes?
Orly: In my sculpture I often use rope, paint, resin, concrete, and wax. For the jewelry we combined leather, chain, cast metals, and for our newest spring collection enamel paint.
The collection is at relatively moderate price point. Do you have plans to launch pieces at a more affordable or drastically more expensive price point?
Jaclyn: Yes we are talking about it. We think doing a few super high-end fine jewelry pieces in our style could be really interesting. We also have a collaboration with a larger retailer in the works which would offer a few new lower priced styles.
How would you go about expanding the line?
Jaclyn: We love collaborations and are always looking for opportunities to work with other designers and retailers. We hope to start doing a holiday season as well next year and possibly some pieces for men. In time we’ll think about other accessories we can make but for now we just love jewelry.
Is there any material you’ve wanted to use but found too challenging? Would you incorporate it into another accessory?
Do either of you have a hobby of rock climbing?
Nope. We get asked that a lot.