Kt Ferris crafts deeply personal jewellery – and their latest collection, dropping today, illustrates that perfectly. Handcrafting everything from Brooklyn, the designer’s work exists at the intersection of relevant aesthetics and boundary-breaking design: expressing narrative, lux and personality within each piece.
For Kt, being a jeweller was fate. Spotting coincidences and parallels within the production process and themselves, it was clear that jewellery was an art form that Kt could connect to – and one which would prove to be a path worth forging for the creative.
Powering ahead within the jewellery space is not a move Kt is comfortable making solo: the designer places a distinct emphasis on bringing their peers along with them and uplifting emerging talent as a matter of priority. We caught up with them to chat about their next drop – from scrapping metal to making a career out of sculpted metal, keep reading to get to know.
Hey Kt. How did you get started in jewellery design – what about it as an art form connected with you?
I took a six month course at a trade school in Manhattan called Studio Jewelers, in 2012. It was there I discovered Ferris file-a-wax. Ferris is my last name, it’s also the material you use to carve your master models. I knew I was heading in the right direction. Once I realised you took the Ferris wax to the caster, Caster being my mum’s maiden name, to turn it into metal, I knew this medium was what I was meant to work with.
Robert, the owner and operator of the school asked me if I wanted to tidy up the studio for cash and extra studio time after school. I ended up being the janitor for two years. In those two years I had access to the whole studio, I drove him nuts but he believed in my vision and allowed me to create my first collection in exchange for chores. In a lot of ways Robert started it all.
Your pieces have recently been spotted on Doja – how did this come about?
Doja’s stylist, Brett, slid into my DMs. The belt she wore in the Agora Hills music video was made of scrap pieces that were unsuitable to sell. I felt like it was a sign that the scrap metal belt I made for fun was the piece she gravitated towards.
Your new collection drops on the 11th and is a deeply personal one. Take us through the visual narrative and how it plays out in the collection.
The visuals for this collection are a glamorised version of my childhood. Growing up I spent my weekends driving around the city of Rochester with my dad dumpster diving and scraping metal. At the end of a successful day I’d get a happy meal as my treat for a job well done, he’d put me to bed and sneak off into the night in search of his poison.
When I look back on my childhood I like to see it as a treasure hunt, ignoring the reality of it. These photos represent what the little kid in me imagined as I’d dig through dumpsters hoping none of my friends saw me. These photos are a testimony to believing in yourself, and the humans around you despite your lack of financial support and resources. It’s corny, but where there’s a will, there’s always a way.
Do you have a favourite piece?
The exclusive pieces I’ve cooked up for APOC store, with the colour changing mood stones, are top tier.
What do you want people to take away from your designs?
I want people to form their own opinions of my designs. My works have always been personal, the language I’ve created is a representation of me. I think it’d be hard for people to connect with the jewellery and make it their own if they really knew what it meant.
Because my work is worn by others I’d rather people feel powerful and protected in it rather than them wearing my story. I want everyone to feel like a baddie with their baddie friends, ya know? The design process for me is personal and healing, it’s usually explosive and all at once. Then the production side of things is my meditative, self soothing part of the practice, there’s a sprinkle of controlled chaos in there too. When people buy my work and wear it, they’re helping me more than they know, I want them to know that.
You’re passionate about giving props to the craftsmanship required to make jewellery – behind all the smoke and mirrors of the industry. Chat to us a bit about this.
In a world full of mass produced accessories, underpaid craftsmen, and CEOs with money and no skills there’s a lot of things I’ve observed in the jewellery industry. A trend in the industry I’ve noticed is people with capital starting jewellery brands that have little to no knowledge of how jewellery is actually made.
In turn they underpay skilled craftsmen to turn a profit. When the boss doesn’t really know what goes into making jewellery they won’t understand how valuable, and rare their employees skills actually are. I see it everywhere, the jewellers working for your favourite handmade jewellery brand most likely have a second job to make ends meet. The lucky ones spend their free time making and selling their own work. I have so many talented friends in this position, and they’re all snapping their fingers saying “uh huh.” I guess I get worked up about all of this because making jewellery means so much more to me than making a profit.
Where do you see the jewellery industry heading in the future?
I see it going in two different directions. Technology is taking over the industry, but on the other hand I see a huge uptick in experimental jewellery being made independently. I’m happy to see the teensy tiny simple jewellery trend die, and the spiky, oversized jewellery trend rising.
It’s like everyone’s making dystopian weapons to protect us all from the world as we know it. I’ve been waiting my whole career for this. The past few years have been the most exciting time to be in the industry for me. As for future trends I predict things will stay harsh and bold for a while, but slowly turn into a more romantic aesthetic with touches of the hardness we’re seeing today. There’s always a duality though, I think people are going to lean heavily into the ‘do it yourself’ side and the others will lean even more into the Chat GPT of it all.
If you could make a piece for anyone, who would that be and why?
That’s tough, I’d say Michèle Lamy because she’s just such a unique creature that’s formed her own language around her personal style. I think that’d be a big stamp of approval. A matching couture necklace with Rick? Come on.
What’s next for you?
After my new collection drops I’ll be in what I call ‘studio jail’ until next year. Once the holiday season is over I’ll start working on my next collection.
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