In Conversation: Shahla Karimi
Shahla Karimi is New York's biggest dreamgirl, creating pieces that capture the heart of the big apple. Being huge fangirls of NYC ourselves (and unashamedly so), we knew her series of pieces inspired by the city's subway system were made for The Armoury. We shot through a few questions for the Kentucky born Karimi, a now self proclaimed New Yorker, on her work process, her faves, and her love of HBO.
How did you ended up in jewellery design, and has it always been a dream of yours?
I have never stopped going to school! I got a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then went to school at NYU for graphic design - as soon as I finished that program (2008), I started taking classes to learn metal-smithing. After my first class, I was hooked (and knew this was a career I wanted to pursue) - I took every class 3rd Ward (a technical school in Brooklyn) had to offer, from lost-wax casting to chemical etching to enamelling. I used my design background to start making graphic forms and my technical training to actually carve and cast them. In more recent years, I have taken Rhino classes and now I 3-D print everything I design.
We are seriously in love with NYC. Are you a native New Yorker, and is this what influenced the creation of your ‘Subway Series’?
According to New Yorkers, you are a New Yorker after you live here for 7 years…so I guess I am "officially" a New Yorker (I have lived here for 12 years now)! I am originally from Louisville, Kentucky…just a little smaller than NY, haha. I think of New York as a bad relationship you just can’t get out of…it’s so hard living here (the cost or rent, tiny spaces, 8 million too many people…) but every time I try to leave, I get drawn back in and I can’t bear the thought of not living here! As a New Yorker, I spend about 10% of my waking time on the Subway - I have admired the curves on the subway map since a design school project to redesign the metro card - I first thought of curving the lines to make jewellery when I was commuting!
My biggest OMG moment was when Lena Dunham wore my rings."
Your pieces have been worn by many influential people. Have you ever had an internal OMG moment when you’ve seen a particular person wearing your pieces?
My biggest OMG moment was when my 'She-ro' Lena Dunham wore my rings and posted them on Instagram! We had a short conversation on instagram and she followed me - at that point, I could have died happy.
What is your Sunday ritual?
At the moment, I am working most Sundays from home. I am usually on the couch with a pup on each side (I have a long-haired Chihuahua named Souris and a Papillon-mix named Reuben MacGougan). But without fail, I get carry-away and watch Game of Thrones / Homeland / The Affair / fill-in seasonal HBO or Showtime series on Sunday night with my husband, Tim.
What pieces in your wardrobe could you not live without?
I could not live without my Subway Rings, black J Brand Jeans, a black turtle neck (I have many), and white Adidas classics.
All time favourite beauty product?
Kevyn Aucoin Powder and OPI nail polish, “The Thrill of Brazil” (think candy-apple red).
Where do you see your label in five years time?
I hope to be the Everlane of jewelry. We are constantly working to be very transparent about where our products are made, where the materials come from and we try to keep the cost as low as possible for the customer. Best product at the lowest price with the most playful designs is our mission!