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At The Studio With Nikolai Rose - Q&A with Jacob Melinger

01 Tell us about your background and how you first found yourself designing jewelry?

I grew up painting but when I was 20 I moved away from traditional paint to focus on wood and metal work. When I started making jewelry the challenge of creating pieces at a limited scale resonated with me. Nikolai Rose was formed around that time as a design studio and we released a tight collection of accessories to compliment our other projects. The jewelry collection gained momentum immediately and grew into what Nikolai Rose is today.

02 How long have you been in New York City and how has being here influenced your work?

I was born and raised in NYC so the city is an undeniable influence. However, influences on the Nikolai Rose Collection are much wider than New York.

03 What does a ‘typical’ work day look like for you?

Every day centers around the Nikolai Rose Studio on Canal Street. It is our headquarters for nearly every operation. Some days we are shooting content on models or overseeing production and order operations, while others are dedicated to custom piece consultations. Being right on the edges of Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Lower East Side means we have the best of everything. The food and drink is an obvious plus and a lot of galleries have opened up on the LES in the past couple years as well.

04 You have a very distinguished aesthetic to the pieces you create - is there a particular genre of design or art that influences your work?

Thanks, I appreciate that and take pride in making pieces that stand out from the typical men’s jewelry. It is important to me that the goods we put out hold an attractive simplicity to them.

There isn’t one particular genre but rather a constant theme in the artists that I channel- mainly artists that balance hard masculinity with romance and the power to create something beautiful. Richard Serra, Chet Baker, and Ernest Hemingway just to name a few.

05 I’ve designed pieces worn by Beyonce, Lorde and even Miley Cyrus on the cover of Rolling Stone. How does the approach of designing jewelry for women differ from designing pieces for men?

The Nikolai Rose collection is designed for men. That being said, we make a lot of our pieces in women’s sizes as well. Women are smart; they pick up a piece of jewelry and immediately know how to make it their own, even in the middle of a Men’s showcase. We have a solid female customer base because our pieces are hard edged but romantic in the details. It is an aesthetic that you cannot find at the majority of women’s jewelry stores.

06 What have been some of the most challenging and/ or rewarding pieces that you’ve designed and why?

Often customers will bring us a family estate piece that they consider outdated in style but loaded with personal significance. Reworking these pieces for clients is challenging, mostly due to the sentimental attachment, but the gratification on completion is unmatched. Helping someone create a new, custom, wearable piece from a family member’s past is unsurprisingly rewarding and we always welcome the challenge full-heartedly.

"I have been wearing the same set of rings for years. They’ve been around the world with me and I don’t take them off. "

07 Walk us through the process of making a custom ring?

A custom piece with Nikolai Rose begins with concept and sketches. From there we move to sampling a prototype, and revising before producing the final piece.

Custom pieces part from the core collection and are a fun way to create work for customers while relaying our aesthetic in a one-of-a-kind way.

08 As a jewelry designer, what are some essential pieces you never leave the house without?

I design jewelry that can be worn everyday without having to think twice- accessories that will fit seamlessly into someone’s daily wardrobe and life.

I have been wearing the same set of rings for years. They’ve been around the world with me and I don’t take them off.

"It is important to me that the goods we put out hold an attractive simplicity to them.”

09 Whats on the horizon for Nikolai Rose?

We’re always working on new pieces. Right now we have some new necklaces and bracelets coming out for the holidays that I’m stoked about. In the past year we’ve dedicated a lot of time to perfecting our ring collection so moving into the winter its going to be about the neck and wrist.

10 By the looks of your studio space - you’ve got a pretty ‘green thumb’.

We have a lot of plants at the studio, the space would be completely different without them. Each of our plants were either a cutting from a friend or a gift someone has brought in. The large exception to this is our spider plant family. We bought the first one as a tiny cutting from Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock’s East Hampton home/studio. All of the spider plants here have been nurtured as offshoots directly from this one guy, who is now massive. It’s more than cool to work next to a plant that was was literally born from Pollock and Krasner’s own home. I recently came across a picture of their living room from 1970 and you can actually see the mother plant! Ours is hearty now and I give cuttings away all the time, anyone who comes by is welcome to have one.

11 So - what’s the everyday dynamic of running a business with your ‘brother/sister’ like?

My sister Caroline joined the team a few years ago and now manages the Nikolai Rose Studio. Our work relationship is intuitive and invaluable. As anyone running a business knows- to have someone on your side who has a true and deep understanding of your vision and goals is rare to find.