People

Busyness as usual

Meadowlark founder and creative director Claire Hammon has quite a lot on, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Befitting the beauty of their jewellery, Meadowlark’s HQ is housed in a lovely two-level workplace in Auckland’s Newton that’s bathed in natural light. On the first floor is a store that stocks the brand’s complete offering and an atelier where pieces are made to order. Upstairs is an open-plan workspace, co-founder and creative director Claire Hammon’s private home away from home (a smaller room she fitted out to feel like a lounge that encourages the relaxed headspace she requires for designing) and another office belonging to Meadowlark’s co-founder, Claire’s husband, jeweller Greg Fromont.

So Claire, how many people work here? Along with Greg and I, there are currently 17 people on our team, including five amazing jewellers and one stone-setter in the workshop.

What does a typical day look like? No two are the same. Sometimes it’s meetings all day about various aspects of the business, and the rest of the time we’re juggling multiple projects, finding solutions and somehow fitting designing jewellery into every moment we can.

TOP Claire says, “The best thing about being my own boss is the freedom — no one telling me what I can and can’t do — and I like our staff to feel that too. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through working for myself is to trust. Whenever I’ve doubted myself and sought outside help with the direction of the brand, I’ve always come full circle and realised that if I just do what I want to do and trust my vision, the company ends up growing more. Employing people who are better than you at certain things is always a good idea too!” ABOVE Claire created her quiet office sanctuary with the help of interior stylist Ange Dye, who as well as sourcing furniture and arranging everything impeccably, made that incredible planter.

What influences you in your work? Often it’s the materials we use, especially when it comes to pearls. But generally I’m inspired by art, vintage design, nature and travelling.

Who are your muses? I’m obsessed with so many designers. My favourites would have to be Crosby Studios, Joseph Dirand, Sabine Marcelis, Dieter Rams, Emil Dervish, Katty Schiebeck and Phoebe Philo, but there are so many more. I think what I like about their work is the total perfectionism.

What’s behind your new collection, Palace, launching in February? It’s inspired by a trip to Hawaii. Greg and I found ourselves in the basement of the ‘Iolani Palace surrounded by royal jewels — and I instantly knew it’d be the inspiration for our next collection. We used seed pearls for the first time, inspired by seed pods from our own garden — home being our own personal palace of sorts.

ABOVE On Claire’s Alpha coffee table by Robin Day from Karakter is a Tangle sculpture by Richard X Zawitz and a vase Claire and Greg bought on a visit to the LA workshop of BZippy & Co’s Bari Ziperstein. A shiny hunk of pyrite sits atop some terrazzo from Italian Stone, and the jewellery is from Meadowlark’s new collection, Palace.

How do you know when a piece is finished? Generally, we don’t begin a piece until we know exactly how we want it to look, so it’s finished as soon as it’s polished up. When it comes to finishing an entire collection, it just happens naturally. I sit with it for as long as I can, editing it until I’m happy.

What part of the jewellery design process thrills you the most? I usually get excited at the midpoint of developing a collection, when I can see the ideas are working. I also get really excited to see each lookbook printed, when all the hard work becomes ready for sale and I can step back from it all — then get ready for the next one!

ABOVE They’re now designing four collections a year for international stockists including David Jones and Net-a-Porter, so things have stepped up a notch at HQ. “The first order from Net-a-Porter was the same size as a single season of orders from all 60 New Zealand stores combined, so you can imagine how the workload increased,” says Claire. “We were ready for the growth, though, and our staff have stepped up and done an incredible job.”

You’ve recently developed a range of objects for the home — is that something we can expect more of? I kind of can’t help myself — I love having lots of projects on the go. I’m always exploring objects and beauty, and after visiting Arizona and California and seeing firsthand some products I’d been admiring from afar, I decided to import them into our showroom to share with our customers. Some items are things I’ve used for years and wanted to bring to New Zealand because they’re so great. We’ve built some shelves into the wall, so I’ll have to keep them stocked, and I intend to add new items to the mix as I discover them.

ABOVE Key pieces seen here include a ceramic bowl by Ace Firers (top), jewellery dishes by Monmouth Glass Studio that are available through Meadowlark’s showroom (middle), and a blue vase by BZippy & Co. The moodboard on the wall provides lighting and composition inspiration for campaign shoots.

How would you describe your own interior style? Minimal with the big stuff and eclectic when it comes to decoration. I’m mostly driven by need, so if there’s something I need in my space, I’ll search for as long as it takes to find the right thing that functions well but is also aesthetically pleasing.
I don’t follow trends — I just choose what I like, and I like to be surrounded by beauty, so everything I own is something I love, something I’ve found on my travels or something that has a story. I’d rather go without than have items I don’t adore. I feel like I’m not great at actually putting things together in a very curated way, though, so I just hope that my love for each item is what makes it all work together.
meadowlark.co.nz

Interview Alice Lines
Photography Olivia Kirkpatrick