Jay Strongwater: Injecting luxury into home collection

 15 Mar 2016 - 15:23

Jay Strongwater: Injecting luxury into home collection
Jay Strongwater


By Ahmed Salem
Jay Strongwater is an American design maven celebrated for his opulent creations that double as art-pieces. In a world of clinical-like minimalism, The designer is enamoured with creating showpieces that are meant to razzle-dazzle. Doha Today caught up with the designer at the Tanagra boutique at the Villaggio Mall, where much of his showpieces from his home collection are on display.

You were a successful jewellery designer prior to launching your home collection, what made you move into that direction, and was it organic to do so?
I was known throughout the 80s and early 90s for creating big and bold fashion jewellery. I was living in New York City at the time, and I was creating those showpieces for Oscar De La Renta, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar Magazine. My jewellery was sold at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf goodman, Harrods and other wonderful luxury stores all around the world. I was known for creating big statement necklaces, wonderful earrings and such.  As time progressed, fashion become more minimal and there was a massive grunge movement in the 90s, and all of a sudden Oscar De La Renta stopped showing statement jewellery on the runway. The fashion magazines stopped visiting us much as well.  Was it a conscious decision for me to start creating home collections? I think not actually. I remember I was working on creating this new earring one day twenty years ago and I continued to add some parts to the right and to the left, and I was using those different bezels and twisted wires and all those jewellery components, and all of a sudden it turned into a beautiful picture frame. That was the first picture frame I’ve ever created.  It was created with the intention of gifting it to our buyers and editors, and such. We got such a positive response from the buyers and some of the stores that we’ve sold our jewellery to, asked us to create a collection of 10 pieces or more to sold in their stores. At the time, I was both creating jewellery and working on the home collection, but by 1998, I started to focus solely on growing and expanding the home collection.  So in a way, I do believe it was organic for me to start a home collection, and to channel the luxury that I injected into the jewellery pieces that I used to create, through the home collections that we’ve been creating ever since.

Can you shed some light on the pieces that you create through the brand’s home collection?
Our pieces are quite whimsical, opulent and have a lot of character. Our pieces are hand made. We have a team of 55 designers that make most of our pieces in upstate New York and Rhode Island. I think what our clients can notice is the feel of the hand and craftsmanship of our designers through the pieces we create, and I think that’s what our clients ultimately look for and expect from us. We produce two collections a year and each collection is made up of about 80 pieces. We started to incorporate more materials into the collections recently. We’re working with glass, and mixing it with metal. We’ve started to bring out some porcelain pieces as well. We’ve also starting to add some furniture pieces, coffee tables and ottomans to our production. I like to think that our canvas is expanding, and it’s quite exciting to witness.

How did this partnership Between Jay Strongwater and Tanagra come to be?
We love our Partners, and the reason why we love selling at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman’s, Harrod’s and love being here at Tanagra in the Middle East is that there are not a lot of stores that can truly understand and appreciate a luxury, hand-made piece. You walk around the Tanagra store, and see our pieces showcased among other pieces from Baccarat, Lalique and Dome. We’re very honoured to be among these esteemed brands that have been around for hundreds of years, and to be part of the Tanagra family.

Jay Strongwater is celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary, have you created a special collection to mark the joyous celebration?
We are in fact celebrating the brand’s 20th Anniversary this year. We made five limited-edition styles that were limited to 20 pieces each, and I’m happy to say that we’ve sold most of them out in about 4-5 months. Tanagra even had some of those pieces in store as well.

Are you open to creating a capsule collection that is inspired by the Middle East, and Qatar Specifically?
Of course we are. Looking at the Middle Eastern decretive design, it already incorporates many of the elements and design patterns that we do. That’s why in some respects i feel that the clients in the middle east have a better understanding of what we do than clients elsewhere, and i think that has to do with the fact that they have a flair for the opulent because they grew up with it. We have pieces that are inspired by the middle east in our collections, and in conclusion we are up to creating a capsule collection that is inspired by the Middle East.

Are there any plans for expanding the Jay Strongwater brand in Qatar, maybe a boutique in Doha?
Certainly.  As I said we are very honoured to be part of the Tanagra Family and the parent company, Shalhoob. We’re looking to grow our business with the help of our partners, and we feel very fortunate to be in partnership with Tanagra. We hope the opportunity of launching a standalone boutique in the near future presents itself, because it would be very interesting to create a creative environment that encompasses what we do.

The Peninsula