Nick Klarwill of Nick von K jewellery. Photo credit: Fiona Quinn.
Nick Klarwill is the talented designer behind Nick von K, the eclectic jewellery brand that is as rock’n’roll as it is refined. Nick proudly designs his jewellery in New Zealand and manufactures in Bali, and since launching in 2010 he’s built up a loyal following both here and overseas with the likes of Lady Gaga, Gin Wigmore, Adam Lambert and Holly Smith among those spotted wearing Nick von K pieces.
We caught up with Nick to find out more about his latest collection, what inspires him and what you would never catch him wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
The latest collection is called Step Up to Shine and is all about stepping up and finding your place in the sun. I worked with a repeating chevron/arrow shape which to me really encapsulated the idea of the collection – the daily steps we take towards our goals. And then I added in some more whimsical pieces such as the epic Butterfly bracelet and the Hands Holding the Pearl pendant, which both have more poetic associations.
It’s a fresh direction for me design wise to go with such a minimal styling, and I really enjoyed that about the design process, and the resulting collection as a whole.
What made you become a designer?
Well, ever since I was a small child I was drawing and making things, it’s all I ever really wanted to do with my spare time. My parents built me a workbench in the basement, and bought me heaps of tools for birthdays and Christmas’s. The basement had a very low ceiling so adults had to really stoop to be in there, but of course being so young I could stand up easily so I felt it was really my own domain. The place made a huge impression on me, I’d spend hours in there carving little sculptures out of wood and hammering things together with nails.
Consequently art class was always my favourite subject at school. But my parents always told me – Artists never make any money, not while they are alive anyway. So I never considered it a viable option as a career. Eventually when I dropped out of uni at the age of 18 having studied commerce, I finally said ‘Fuck it, I’m going to be an artist.’ Luckily I had a mentor in my life who suggested I might like to try jewellery, and the rest is history.
Pieces from Nick von K’s new Step up to Shine collection.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by so many things, I find anything that is well-made with creative flair inspires me. Movies, TV series, music, fashion, art, architecture, literature, performance, all these things can create a build up of creative energy inside me. Also of course, the natural world, everything in nature is designed so beautifully.
I love travelling as well as I find the amount of information entering my brain through my eyes and ears when I am not in my normal environment is gigantic. It all contributes to an internal creative force that I then drawn upon when I design. For me being creative is very important, it’s a way to feel deep satisfaction and happiness, I find it very fulfilling.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your brand?
I love fashion and style. To tell you the truth I have a huge wardrobe filled with shitloads of clothing, I love shopping wherever I am in the world. It’s a great way to enjoy local cultures and finding new gems to add to my collection.
For me it’s an enjoyable part of every day to get dressed in my fave gears.
I guess you could call my style – fashion crossed with rock n’ roll, and I often go for clothing that mixes modern detailing with a classic look. Like a perfectly tailored thin cotton white shirt, or a sexy black leather jacket. My personal style definitely contributes to my design aesthetic, I mean it’s all an extension of the creative process isn’t it.
I often will add something into a collection just for myself to wear, and hope everyone else likes it too.
Of course most of the jewellery I design is for ladies, I have an intuitive idea of the types of women I’m designing for and when I design its like I’m imagining how it will fit into her style. So you could say that I design with the idea that my pieces fit into the style of the world as I’d like to see it.
Pieces from Nick von K’s new Step up to Shine collection.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
Probably my black leather jacket that I bought in Bali, it just combines all the elements that I look for; comfort, style, fit and excellent details. And I’m going to have to add in here the jeans I bought on the black market in Cuba, they fit perfectly, are hand-dyed like a watercolour painting and are extremely comfortable. Plus, there is a great story of how I came to purchase them.
What wardrobe item should every woman invest in?
Jewellery of course! A great piece of jewellery is always a talking point.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Make sure you always look awesome, you never know who you are going to run into.
What has been the highlight of your career/s so far?
I first launched the Nick Von K brand at NZ Fashion Week in 2010 after having been in the industry behind the scenes for about 15 years. I’d spent 8 months that year putting everything I had into it and I had well over 3 collections worth of jewellery, about 80 different designs.
The brand was picked up by Nicole Miller who is a very big deal in America and was at FW that year. Her seal of approval helped launch the brand locally and it was such a buzz to see my baby brand selling alongside the other jewellery brands that I admired. She has since invited me to New York to launch a couple of collections at her Soho boutique, where of course I met a few of the rich and famous Americans that I had seen in the movies. Having someone like that buy my jewellery and compliment me on it is pretty trippy.
What can’t you live without?
My fiancé Lucy Lynch.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Sports wear, unless I’m playing sports.