Jewelry design and interior design have quite a bit in common: skilled artisans at work, exquisite materials, and the ability to draw every eye in the room. Designer Brent Neale Winston is a lover of both art forms, between her sought-after signature jewelry collections and the interiors of her New York home, designed by Lindsey Coral Harper, shown below. We asked Neale about the interplay of different types of design, how she got her start as a designer, and why the Diamond District will always be at the heart of her business.
See what she had to say below, and be sure to shop her collection of Chairish favorites for even more of her sophisticated style.
How did you get started in the world of design, and how did you create your own firm?
After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, I did product development for a large firm and realized that if I really wanted to be a designer, I needed some classical training. So, I completed the two-year jewelry design program at FIT and went to work for another fine jewelry designer, Kara Ross, where I stayed for eight years. I left when I found out I was due with twins and faced a prolonged period of time on bedrest. I took a year off during that time and what I came to realize was that jewelry is a part of who I am, and I started my own firm shortly after.
You’ve overseen the development of dozens of collections for brands like Kara Ross New York, as you mentioned, and of course your own company. How do you develop new ideas for pieces?
Designing for someone else is amazing training because you learn to create for the pure sense of loving the medium. But working for yourself is a whole different animal. For inspiration I look to things I personally love: art, books, textiles, nature, travel, movies… I’m very nostalgic, so the motifs in my collection are all really coming from a very personal place.
Similarly, what are some similarities between the jewelry world and the interior design world? They both have their trends and new release schedules… how do you think they relate to each other?
I see so many similarities between the two. I think the biggest one is the ability of both to change your mood. You put on some amazing jewelry — you feel amazing. You walk into a chic, moody living room — you feel chic. The colors and textures in both tell you something about the owner immediately.
You work closely with gem dealers and cutters in the Diamond District of New York. What’s it like working as part of such an iconic New York scene, and how have they managed in the last year?
I am fully invested in New York production. It’s massively important to me, and a cornerstone of what Brent Neale — the business — is about. I was trained here, and the incredible jewelers we work with are what make my designs come alive. We don’t outsource our production team — we do it all ourselves — and our office is in New York City. So for better or for worse, work from home is not an option even though production times are hard to manage these days. But my motto is “onward.” Keep moving forward!
Tell us a little bit about your passion for design and interior design specifically. How do you create your own spaces at home?
I think I’m extremely visual, like any designer. So for my home, I was very specific about the feeling I wanted to achieve. Because I have three children, it needed to be warm and happy — hence all the pattern and color — but I also wanted there to be an underlying sense of sophistication. It’s a New York apartment so all the rooms have to work together. Just as I would want a pinky ring to play well with an engagement ring and an eternity band. It’s about scale and color and surprise, right?
What’s one trend in the world of interiors you love, and what’s one you’d love to see go away?
The one trend I love, and I think Chairish really facilitates this, is mixing it up in your home. I love using antique pieces with contemporary designers and I am so happy to see that trend coming back.
The trend I am happy to see go is furniture that won’t last. It’s the same as jewelry. It’s important to look at those two things as an investment at any level, so it’s about buying pieces that will last and grow with you at any price point.
On Chairish & Vintage Shopping…
What do you find most compelling about Chairish?
I think what’s special about Chairish is that you have something chic for everyone at any price point. If you want some amazing water glasses for $100, that’s available, but if you also want an insane Damien Hirst for $25,000, that’s an option. It’s all about the approachability of the mix and curation, and also the inspiration that it offers.
Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? What’s a dream piece for you?
If there were ever a day when having white furniture in my home was practical, I would love a pair of Philip Arctander Clam Chairs in Shearling.
What’s a favorite piece on Chairish now?
Besides those Philip Arctander Clam Chairs, I love this 1970’s Afra & Tobia Scarpa Round dining blue and wood table.
Some Design Favorites…
Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room:
Lighting. Lighting. Lighting. It sets a mood and lighting can be pieces of art all on their own. From table lamps to chandeliers to light fixtures — each one is its own little jewel.
Favorite decorating “cheap thrill:”
Books and flowers of course!
Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:
The Hand Chair by Pierre Friedeberg
Favorite paint color:
Benjamin Moore’s Aura and Hidden Sapphire. Not surprisingly, I love jewel tones.
Favorite piece of decor in your home:
The Gracie wallpaper in my foyer and of course the vintage light fixture!
Favorite designer or artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration:
Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly
Favorite style icon:
Lee Radziwell and Stevie Nicks
Design destination every creative should visit at least once:
The Benesse Art Site in Naoshima, Japan. It is the most incredible island filled with insane art from all over the world.
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:
Gosh, it’s not very interesting, but: Find what you love and try and make it your living.
Some Lifestyle Favorites…
Favorite vacation destination (the next time travel becomes an option):
I had been planning a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia with my husband to celebrate a big birthday, and I am still really looking forward to that one day.
Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling:
Cipriani, Venice, Italy
Favorite small museum:
The Neue Galerie, a museum for German and Austrian art from the early twentieth century, in New York
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow:
There is a really big range depending on which one of my children steals my phone: Baby Animals, the New York Rangers, and then if it’s just what i like… I love Pierre Frey for all sorts of inspiration, Get The Gusto is just visually beautiful, and New York Times Travel because i think it might be what am I craving the most right now.
Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift:
Books — right now I’ve been sending Entertaining Beautifully, by Aerin Lauder.
Irish Bells and anemone and sweet peas. I can’t choose just one!
Favorite adult beverage:
Favorite way to unwind at home:
Airplane mode on my phone and a great conversation with my husband or sister or dear friend.
Favorite entertaining essential:
Amazing tabletop details. There’s nothing I love more than using an arrangement of linens, glassware, dishes, and florals to create something magical.
All photos by Matthew Williams. Styled by Martin Bourne. Interior design by Lindsey Coral Harper.