Designer and goldsmith Jack Row on how his love of working with precious metals has turned into a business with global appeal
From his studio in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, Jack Row crafts beautiful writing instruments that are sought after by buyers across the globe. He has gained recognition not just from the niche world of precious metals, but from mainstream fashion magazines such as Vogue. He has industry awards a plenty and an exclusive collection at Harrods. It could have gone to 27-year-old’s head, but he takes it in his stride. “It’s great to have your hard work recognised, but I don’t get too hung up on trying to actively win awards. My main aim is to create beautiful, finely crafted objects and provide innovative and luxurious products for my clients.”
CREATIVE GOLD RUSH
Row studied at the School of Jewellery in Birmingham and considers the design education on offer locally to be top notch. “The Birmingham Institute of Art and Design is one of the leading art colleges in the country and has specialist colleges and centres of excellence, such as the School of Jewellery, which are among the best in Europe,” he enthuses.
Events held last June such as ‘Birmingham Made Me’, which Row was part of, highlight the varied but considerable creative talent the city has to offer.
“I think Birmingham has the perfect mix of old and new. Well established, craft-based businesses sit comfortably alongside some cutting-edge, creative studios and education establishments. This environment makes for some great ideas. Also, the diverse range of cultural influences present in the city, makes it a very vibrant place to live and work and positively exposes your creativity to a wide range of global art.”
Row’s strategy is certainly quality, not quantity. Depending on the complexity of manufacture, a piece usually takes between six and eight weeks. All of his pieces are made to order and individually crafted. The design development for a new collection takes roughly six months. But for Row, the long journey is worth the effort. For him working with metal has been a lifelong passion. “I’ve always had a strong interest in art and design. Resistant materials and graphic design were my favourite subjects at school. However, my particular interest in precious metals came when I began a part-time apprenticeship at the age of 15 with master goldsmith Harry Forster-Stringer.”
Row’s collaboration with Harrods kick-started the business and came about almost by surprise. As part of his final project at university, he set up an appointment with the store’s buyer merely to get his feedback on a prototype pen for inclusion in his dissertation. “The buyer loved the prototype and thought that my story was very Harrods, with me being a somewhat eccentric British designer making innovative luxury products. I was then asked if I would consider developing the prototype into a collection that could be debuted exclusively at Harrods,” he adds.
As a result, of the meeting Row created the ‘Architecture Collection’ which debuted at Harrods in November 2011. It his most celebrated work and is Row’s favourite. ”The Architect Collection is inspired by contemporary British architecture and pays homage to man’s engineering and architectural achievements. Each piece is individually crafted from solid silver and gold and is set with accents of precious gems including sapphires and diamonds.”
Jack Row loves Birmingham’s eclectic architecture and says that one building in particular might inspire him to design a new piece of work
“My inspiration is chiefly drawn from iconic architecture, engineering and Islamic art and design,” Row says. “I’ve got a fascination with structure and pattern so I try to marry the two together in my own interpretation.”
Row says he spends time admiring and contemplating the varied style of Birmingham’s architecture and that it’s a source of inspiration.“There is a huge mix of architectural styles to be found in Birmingham. From the Georgian terraced houses in St Paul’s Square, to the terracotta Victoria Law Courts on Corporation Street and of course the extraordinary ‘blobitecture’ of the Bull Ring, to name but a few. I think that a piece inspired by the shopping centre could certainly be on the cards.”