There aren’t many professions that jewellery designer Stephen Einhorn hasn’t dabbled in at some point in his life. “I have always made stuff. I’ve done lots of things previously from model making for films and electroforming and mould making to making accessories – my wife and I made jewellery and belts and sold them on the London markets such as Camden and Kensington when they were really the centre of punk and fashion in the 1980s.”
Walk around the studio tucked behind his shop on Islington’s Upper Street in London and you’ll see glimpses of Einhorn’s previous life. An old smelting machine sits beneath posters of the campaigns he used to create for brands such as Cadburys and IBM when he was a model-maker.
“We made really intricate models for films and advertising; this was pre-computer so everything had to be made by hand. It was really demanding so we worked 24/7. The night before the deadline for a particularly challenging campaign, the model I was working on fell apart. Instead of trying to mend it, I took an axe to it! At that moment I realised I had to give it up. It had become too intense and I had lost the creative freedom you have when you work for yourself.”
Searching for a new direction, he knew he wanted to design for himself, not to an art director’s brief, so he decided to open his own shop. His first pieces could be described as beautiful objects with a purpose – he designed spiralling corkscrews, stools that looked like giant nails, skull taps and bird feeders, each one carrying Einhorn’s sense of play and fun.
But it was jewellery that ultimately grabbed his attention. After producing ranges for A Bathing Ape and Paul Smith, he put his weird and wonderful objects on hold and concentrated solely on being a jewellery designer.
That same sense of fun he found in his other projects can still be seen today. But while his career as a model-maker may be behind him, it still shapes and influences the jewellery he designs now. Next to the electroforming machine at the back of his studio sits wood from the first ever pier the Romans built on the River Thames. Upon closer inpection via carbon dating, the wood was planted in 186BC. “It’s very versatile, some of it pale, streaked oak, some almost as dark as mahogany, so I decided put it into my jewellery. How often do you get to work with things that are older than the millenium?”