Words Pendle Harte
Jewellery design is a small-scale activity. Literally. People routinely work under magnifying glasses and goldsmiths are adept at creating the tiniest of precise details. But Lara Bohinc is an entirely different kind of jewellery designer, one whose specialism transcends such details as scale or material. ‘I’m really into shapes,’ she announces, which opens up her remit enormously. Although she is known for her jewellery, she sees it as simply one facet of her role as a designer. Her new furniture collection is not a departure from anything but rather a natural extension.“People always say it’s so different but for me it’s not. When you’re a designer, one day you might be doing a bottle, the next day a motorbike, it’s not a problem.”
Slovenia-born Bohinc is beautiful almost in a Hollywood way. She is stylish and has a very kind face that makes her instantly likeable. She’s clearly got a strong sense of humour and a firm individuality. She has the confidence to define herself and her work outside of the usual perameters. So her shop in Golborne Road is neither a fashion store nor an interiors boutique. It’s a stockist of “beautiful objects,” she tells me over coffee. Because for her, designing a table isn’t as different from designing a ring as a non-designer would expect – in fact it’s not different at all.
“For jewellery I use stone and metal and for furniture I use stone and metal; and the techniques are the same: laser cutting, setting stone, painting metals, photo etching. And really, when you look at the table, if you imagine it shrunken, it could be a ring.”To define a designer by the things they design is quite a restrictive attitude. While many people choose to stick to particular categories of object, whether they’re cars or chairs or handbags, others don’t. And Bohinc’s entrance into the world of jewellery wasn’t so much because of the jewellery as for the achievability of it. “When you come out of college and you don’t know where to start, jewellery is great because all you need is a kitchen table and a set of tools. You get a small flame burner and you can melt things. And it’s so easily transportable, you can go to a trade show with a suitcase. For me to start making tables when I left college would have been a hell of a step, but jewellery is very easy to set up.” Starting out, it was more realistic to work on her shapes on a smaller scale, and thus they became jewellery pieces. Which is an interesting way of looking at it and probably quite unusual, I suggest. “People are very different,” shrugs Bohinc.“I learnt that when I was at Royal College. Some people are really craft based and they work mainly with the material. Others are really into stones and they work around precious stones. It depends. I’m into design. And shapes. I’m not so interested in the stones themselves.”
Bohinc’s background is in industrial design, which is a broad discipline that can take in “anything from cutlery design to hoovers – it can be
a decorative object or an object for daily use.” Its approach is to look at the technology first and the industrial techniques. “I’m very interested in new processes. At the moment I use lots of 3d printing; I used to use lots of laser cutting.”The ongoing Lunar collaboration between Bohinc and Lapicida has moved into a new phase with the launch of two new elements. Inspired by the planets and their orbital movements, a recurrent theme in Bohinc’s work, the Lunar collection features important pieces of furniture, with highly-figured marbles set like jewels within golden rims. Disc shapes bisect or overlay to create surface patterns and structural elements.The newest introductions, the Collision Console and Half Moon Mirror are simpler, more compact pieces, ideal to use as standalone design statements or to harmonise with the larger tables in the collection. Imbued with all the decorative and dynamic poise of the Lunar Collection, they have a refined luxury which perfectly showcases the natural beauty of the stone.
Bohinc has lived in London for more than 20 years, ever since she first came ‘with just a suitcase’ to study at the Royal College of Art. Home is Marylebone, where she first lived as a student in the days when ‘it was full of charity shops; I had friends who lived in squats there’. Appreciating the fact that you can walk to Soho and that its centralness makes it ‘neutral’, she has stayed. ‘My friends who live east never go west and the other way round, but I go anywhere’. She says this with an ease that reflects her design ethic: open, unrestrained and far-reaching.