JULES KIM: Groundbreaker
JULES KIM is the creator of Bijules, a line of precious objects that beautifully blur the line between art and jewelry. Jules doesn’t just make jewelry: she makes an experience. Creating ‘objects that mirror the beautiful and chaotic world we inhabit: with all its humor, tragedy, ambivalence, love and hate’, Jules infuses each piece with a part of herself and encourages the wearer to do the same. This powerful union of expression makes for an intimate and exciting exchange. Jules is a passionate original thinker and innovator, she designed the jewelry worn by Lisbeth Salander’s character in David Fincher’s recent film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Her work has appeared in countless editorials and is worn and cherished by artists such as: Beyonce, Fergie, Lindsey Lohan, Mariah Carey, Shakira, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kelly Rowland, Rihanna, and many others.
To further explore Jules’ world and purchase her designs online, please visit: www.bijulesnyc.com
Interview by Melissa Unger
Let’s start at the beginning. Were you creative as a child? What initially triggered your desire to express yourself creatively?
I was a creative child indeed. My mother raised my twin sister and I as independent souls and in our imagination we became mermaids with long flowy red hair and scaly legs or sophisticated women with red Lee Press On Nails…I think the creative trigger at such a young age was my notion to experience and share something unique with my playmates. I don’t recall giving a shit about TV or having to fight my mother on those types of rules.
How has your creativity evolved over the years to bring you to the present day & to Bijules?
Children read, process and interpret their learnings almost instantaneously. This nature of quick adaptation I became good at in my adult years. My small family unit included my artistic single mother, my twin and I; while we did not have a lot of money we collectively had a lot of creativity and ability to mold ourselves to the current situations…I remember making/drawing our own money and believing that if it existed, then I would believe its value in real life. Too bad no one else thought that was clever! The paper money I made was something cheap and fleeting and no one accepted it as currency. Later when I moved to New York and applied my brazen attitude to the fashion industry, I developed a rare and honest approach to treating people. I do not think any industry should feign anything. I remember working in a fashion pr firm as an intern and watching my bosses cry and break down during shows. They clearly did not design their own money as children and the permanence of struggle I grew up with was not apparent in these fashion workers; yet they still mistreated and mishandled their business. I was DJing and promoting my own parties in the club back then. The daylight showed me how ephemeral relationships were in this city and the nightlife proved just the same. I decided to make something last forever and jewelry would outlive that carcass of a club or that fashion week runway any day. My jewelry and its unique message will outlive me. Now in life and work, I have a sense of realness and purpose which started when I first hand cut necklaces in my east village basement apartment. It is now real money, not fake.
How do you approach the creation of a new piece? Tell us a bit about your creative process.
When I create a piece I look at my environment. I was raised by an architect. An architect must respect the building’s environment. The body is my environment. The body is a soft and moving environment therefore if my pieces are solid and stoic they will hurt. They will define bad design. It is this obstacle that inspires me to create jewelry pieces which move and defy the standards which define them. My biggest career accomplishment has been making smart rings. I took a crash course almost 9 years ago in jewelry making and one of the projects was to create a basic hollow ring. I implemented the fabrication constraint but created a new shape, now called the bar ring. It is a “single finger fit, multi finger look” ring which is accepted in jewelry and fashion today. The piece redefines what a single finger ring should be and its look rebels against what its definition is. I naturally include a humorous and ironic approach with each design in order to astonish and help the wearer reach a “eureka” moment within themselves.
You refer to yourself as a ‘seer’, a ‘visionary’ who is able to ‘transcend the ordinary limits of vision and thought.’ Tell us a bit about how you integrate that power into your work.
I have a tendency to believe in the better of everyone and everything. It’s a naiveté that I choose to embrace instead of withhold. I will never become a withered and callous person because of it. The applied innocence and vulnerability in my work converts into empowerment when the wearer slips their piece on. It is as if their intent was always there to own and wear their piece but it took a series of discovery to realize it. I do not make objects for cheap and I do not make objects to cheapen the experience. The world around the fine jewelry objects I create is super sticky and once the rush of uncovering yourself through a ring or bracelet for the hand sets in, it becomes addictive. You are bizarrely attracted to the new person who made the purchase. I envision my brand of work to outlive and convince people of their potential long after I am gone.
You’ve said that creative ideas incessantly flow out of you, almost faster than you can concretize them. Can you describe how you feel / what you experience while you are creating?
I understand certainty when I am creating a piece. I do not feel an ounce of doubt. This confidence is available to everyone, right? If I could make choices in my life to enable this feeling then it is my role to communicate its possibility to everyone. When I say everyone, please don’t doubt that I really do mean EVERYONE. I am a creative and I have never suffered from a loss of ideas because I intrinsically adapt.
Do your dreams play a role in your creativity?
Good lord yes. I woke up this morning having dreamt a woman asked me how my nipples stay so perky and now I’m going to put some upside down black diamonds inside of the gold nipple pasties to literally “fluff”. Its my subconscious, I must respect that!
Please share something that has had a profound impact on you creatively:
I am strongly inspired by film. I secretly (well, not really secret) want to be a director…the vision a director has is a 360degree one. From the softly moving red velvet curtain to the girl who walked the wrong way on purpose, directors envision a definitive and comprehensive application of control and art. I am a big fan of Fellini, Godard and Fassbinder. In my childhood I recall watching 8 ½ thinking my mom was crazy to sit us in front of it, but now I understand why. In my work I not only create jewelry but I manifest the world around it. The marketing story is equally as important as the product offering itself. I equate my theory to how a director might make his films.
What are you currently working on and/or what is your current obsession?
I am obsessed with my new showroom. I see it through my own eyes. I wanted to create an experiential design and showcase my community of talented friends. From the discovery of its existence, to standing in front of the descending stairs, to smelling the sweet showroom scent from the streets of the Bowery…I have thought of it all. I am not trying to prove any point further than the efforts one puts out will always be noticed if they pursue them diligently.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with those just starting out on the creative journey?
My advice is to do it. Do it to the best of your ability and don’t doubt the ability because you are doing it!!!
If you had to pick one word to describe yourself today, what would that word be?
Stoked. I feel like I drank too much coffee, but I haven’t had one sip.
Published: July 17th, 2012