LOOKCITY: 5 Minutes With Local “Broken Promises” Jewellery Designer Karen La

September 4, 2012.

Vancouver designer Karen La launches her Fall 2012 Broken Promises line of jewellery this week. We’ve been enamoured with her work for a little while now and caught up with her at her home studio a few weeks back to shoot a few photos and ask a few questions about her design aesthetic and sources of inspiration.

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Three things about Mount Pleasant that make you want to live there: I live within a five-block radius of all my friends; There are a zillion caffeine options; I really enjoy my place and got a great deal on it.

What inspires you? It’s hard to pin point. So many things! For this collection I was really drawn to the Bauhaus design approach. Specifically, Josef Albers exploration with colour and forms really helped shape this collection.

Three words to best describe your personal style? 90’s, Leopard, Velvet.

Suppose you were trying to describe the aesthetic of your jewellery to a stranger. You’re not wearing any of your own pieces during said encounter and have to rely of three words to sum up your work. What three would do the trick? Bold, Geometric, Architectural.

You’ve just returned from a road trip. What did you see that really blew you away? We abandoned our original plan of driving down the coast because a Portlander said we’d “get more bang for our buck” if we headed east, so we did. Everyone in town was talking about Buck Lake and it was worth the hype; the water was the best shade of seafoam blue. Further east the landscape altered dramatically and it felt as if we were in the 70’s; arid desert-like horizon and old motels with amazing typography.

Tell us about your favourite space to work in. Somewhere quiet with a few people around to bounce ideas of off. Currently I work in a nook of my apartment. It’s pretty cozy, although I would love to one day have a separate space to distinguish between my work and home environments.

Where do you enjoy shopping in Vancouver? Tell us about some of your favourite local haunts: I’m vegetarian and allergic to just about everything you could imagine so the Foundation, Bandidas, and Nuba are my go to places. When it comes to shopping, Front & Company and Community Thrift are packed with one-of-a-kind pieces, which I’m really in to. Lastly, my favourite spots for jewelry are Nouvelle Nouvelle, One of a Few, Today, and Vincent Park.

Is there a local designer that you admire? I really admire anyone who strives to create quality goods with impeccable craftsmanship, and I think Andrea of Army of Rokosz exemplifies this. She also happens to be a really nice human being.

What is your favourite Broken Promises creation right now? I Dream of Harleys is my favourite because it’s incredibly labour intensive and completely satisfying to see complete.

A clothing designer whose line you would love to see Broken Promises worn with? Helmut Lang would be my ultimate complimentary dream designer date. He makes amazing clothes with minimal shilloutes that are intriguing and totally wearable. It would be the ideal fit for Broken Promises because my pieces tend to be the statement of the outfit. On the other hand, vintage pieces from collections such as Spanish Moss or Sisters of the Black Moon which have gothic undertones would be juxtaposed nicely with Broken Promises’ modern aesthetic.

What sort of music do you listen to when you are working? I tend to just listen to whatever tapes we have lying around. Jaill, The Smiths, and Fleetwood Mac are usually on heavy rotation.

Why is Vancouver a good city for indie design? Vancouver is a good because it’s a young city with lots of room for growth and everyone is incredibly encouraging.

A Fall 2012 item that every stylish Vancouverite should have in their closet: A pair of platform shoes + something camo.

Where can Vancouverites find your work? My pieces are available at Today & Nouvelle Nouvelle. Also, I have a video + collection release party coming up September 6th at Today. There will be drinks + popcorn. It should be a great time, and everyone is welcome!

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