Brighton Jewellery Design By Rina Tairo A Interview
Brighton resident Rina Tairo was born in Finland, is a jewellery designer, with a recently opened exclusive boutique based in Prince Albert Street.
Derived from a passion for textiles and wearable art, Rina is constantly creating her own exclusive collections, visibly inspired by nature, life and the actual process of creating with natural materials. Rina’s distinctive design’s are made only in small editions and each piece is individually hand-made. Her work has been sold in stores and boutiques worldwide and exhibited at galleries including Sotheby’s and the V&A. In awe of her talent, Absolute Magazine met up with Rina to discover how her journey led her to Brighton and what it takes to have such success in the jewellery design world.
Tell us about the start up of the brand ? How did it begin?
I started making jewellery in Melbourne Australia in 1989. I had been there about a year at that point, making sculptures and drawing and painting. That is my background. I studied art in my hometown of Helsinki, as well as Florence and London. In those days you would often find me at metal dealers rummaging for scrap metal for my sculptures and it was a lightbulb moment one day, after spotting a couple different materials and experimenting with them, that resulted in my first collection of flapper-like strings of caged marbles.
Within a couple of months it was a full time job for me keeping up with demand on my pieces and at that time I invited Ray, my husband, to join and help, particularly in sales. This was followed by other collections and soon my brand was selling throughout Australia, in fashion boutiques and department stores. We had a large following through fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle and that helped grow the brand. We were known as one of the most innovative fashion jewellery brands at that time in Australia. We also had our own retail store in Melbourne. Soon we were also exporting to USA, Europe and Asia .
How has the business grown to be where it is now? What has contributed to your success?
The growing demand overseas as well as family concerns led to us moving back to Europe in 1995. For a year or so we were still designing costume jewellery, selling back to Australia and locally to Harrods etc. We were also making collections for fashion houses such as Whistles and Paul Smith woman. Around that time I began to start working with precious metals. I found working with silver gave me the flexibility I needed to really push my textile inspired designs and refine my style. After we were showing at London Fashion Week in early 1998, everything kind of exploded and suddenly we had to expand the business again.
For the next several years we were touring fashion shows, creating three new collections per season and selling to major stores like Liberty of London & Barneys N.Y. as well as high end boutiques all around the world. Coming from fashion jewellery, I was still sticking to that instinct of variety, as I love the new, exploring new possibilities within my designs, overcoming technical obstacles, which is what drives me. Now that I am working more with gold. Often collections evolve overtime. I have taken a slightly slower approach and now I can take my time to perfect my vision, both looking to the future and backwards, through my classic designs from years before to draw new inspiration for my collections.
What inspires you and your designs ?
I am from Finland. Design from Finland is classically quite pared down and refined in a practical sense, whilst also taking visual cues from the land to inspire organic elements to the design. In my own work, it may not at first glance you may not be able to see clear parallels to this school of thought, however I think it shows itself in the functions of my work through the use of simple clasps and the fluidity of textiles being reimagined through new materials. Through my travels in Italy and Asia, I was inspired to add richer, more grandiose elements and tones to my designs and the two contrasting sources of imagery and design I feel can be seen throughout my work over the years.
Textiles are an obvious obsession. I have grown in an environment where everyone knits and weaves. I used to make all my jumpers and was always interested in haberdashery. As a schoolgirl I used to embroider cute badges and knit mini bears for hanging from bags , these I would sell to my school friends. So textiles is the backbone for my inspiration, but anything around me can start an idea for a collection. It is quite intuitive and my mind is never still, but the key is to find the ideas that take you to the next step.
You are a highly recognised and respected brand. Which fashion labels have you worked with and what campaigns can you share with us ?
Recognition is changing. We have worked with many labels, including Paul Smith for a few seasons, exclusive ranges for Harrods and Whistles back in the day and even a spate of film work; Sleepy Hollow,Love Actually, but now I guess it’s the bloggers and social media that hold more sway on public perception.
Brighton is a unique place to view this change in attitudes towards the high street and the influencers of taste and demand. It is dwarfed in regards to trade and tourism by nearby London, but is still culturally important and unique. Working and living in Brighton has been an inspiration in itself and it is great to be a part of such a vibrant and culturally switched on part of the UK.
However, the city does need to actively support its own homegrown culture or it risks losing it to other bigger cities as even cultural identity comes at a price.
How has the advent of social media impacted on you, I can see from your online presence you seem to embrace this?
We have been a bit slow on the up-take with social media but nowadays you can find us on instagram@rinatairo. It’s great to be able to have a window for all of our customers worldwide within which we can communicate the brand and instantly keep people updated on our new collections and shows. The platforms on social media are new and interesting, especially as an independent designer and I feel that it is an invaluable tool that every professional creative must utilise in today’s world.
What materials do you enjoy working with most ?
My preferred material is 18k gold with diamonds and sapphires. I just love the colour of the yellow gold and its supple strength. It is really well adapted to my work.
How do you stay relevant and current, where do you get your inspirations from?
I love people watching. Whether I’m in the store looking out the shop front or walking through the streets, I always like to think about the people around me and try to figure out what it is they resonate with, their styles and tastes and what makes them tick. It is interesting to see how the moods change over time and how tastes cycle in and out of fashion. I sense that also in myself whilst choosing pieces to wear. When it becomes time for me to plan a new line, I try to take all of these observations on board when imagining what it is that might work for the upcoming season.
For my new collection LUMO I have drawn influence from my home country of Finland, specifically from the stories of ancient Finnish mythology.
The rich Norse mythology of Finland has such a fantastic and mystic quality with such creative storytelling. From the creation story of Luonnotar, who created the sun and the stars from the shells of eggs broken in the cosmic sea, to the powerful imagery of the Sampo, a mythical hammer used to hammer out the sky at the dawn of time. These stories exploring the power of nature, man and the gods have influenced this collection in many ways, from the techniques I apply to each piece down to the materials I used. For example, pave white diamonds are used with my signature woven gold to represent the glow of moonlight and of enchanting mesmerism and beauty. The pieces from this collection are precious, protective keepsakes.
Which projects are you really excited about for 2018/19? Are there any future plans you can share with us?
Our store is getting a facelift this autumn and we have started exporting again, so we are excited
to take that further. The fact that after a few years break we are wholesaling again means we are hitting the ground running and will be bringing out lots of new designs which will also be coming through our Brighton shop front in Prince Albert street.
Why are your designs and service so different to other businesses within the industry? Explain to myself what a Rina Tario client gets ?
There is no underestimating people’s appreciation of the individualistic aspect of this kind of work; not just by the fact it is handmade, but by the idea that this is not factory-derived and each piece is unique.
How has being based in Brighton helped your business? Do you feel the city’s high creativity levels have contributed to your further success?
I think Brighton’s reputation as a creative hub brings other like-minded people to the city. Whilst the city is small, the atmosphere has a creative charge that can be seen expressed through all of the art and culture that the city produces. Working and living Brighton, I can be sure that I will always be inspired and challenged by my surroundings and that at the end of the day I just need to take the time to look around me to find inspiration and also support as a creative and independent designer.
As for our business in Brighton, I think one of the reasons we have been able to keep our storefront for so long is that the work we do resonates with the people of Brighton, who feel they want something as unique and as precious as the city around them.
I feel one of the reasons we have had success with our store in Brighton is that same attitude that fosters all of the unique talent throughout the city and it is what has enabled me to take my work as far as I have. When people come by the store, they can see and feel that what we are doing is a bit different and unique just like the city we are living in.