“Jewellery ultimately brings design and self-expression together and I really wanted to explore this intersection.” Vogue Scandinavia sits down with Byredo's founder Ben Gorham to dive into its latest product category: jewellery
The Hindi word ‘Virasaat’ means inheritance, and it's a fitting name for Byredo's debut jewellery collection – which founder Ben Gorham explains is all about heritage. Like his cult-branded perfumes build on memories and emotions, the latest category – jewellery – takes its cues from Gorham's own background, his personal relationship with jewellery ( “I wear jewellery pieces myself,” he says), and the design field.. “All my inspirations for creating a new product are connected to personal memories,” he continues. “Places from my childhood, specific moments of my life. It all comes from the same place – the notion of something perfectly expressed.”
Jewellery has been top of mind for Gorham for a long time. “I’m so glad to finally see it come to life,” he comments. Made from sterling silver and gold, the pieces find their expression in referencing the strong women Gorham grew up around. “Both my mother and grandmother grew up in India, where jewellery is seen as an important heirloom to be passed down through generations, and I saw jewellery as a way they adorned themselves and expressed their style.” But the jewellery line isn’t a carbon copy of these heirloom pieces. “I also wanted to include echoes of hip-hop’s major cultural influence that I grew up with in the 90s – there was such an inspiring fascination with jewellery,” he says.
According to Gorham, we live in a very aesthetic world. “Design is more interesting than ever, and I’ve always been drawn to this field,” he says, commenting on the recent foray into jewellery. “Jewellery ultimately brings design and self-expression together, and I really wanted to explore this intersection – a total contrast of old traditions, made by hand in the fast pace of the world today.”
I built Byredo to be anything – that’s the beauty of it.
Ben Gorham, founder of Byredo
Gorham came to the luxury industry as a “total outsider” – a basketball player who had just finished art school. “I felt like I had something different to offer in this very structured fragrance field, full of marketing conventions. I had the freedom to launch fragrances how I wanted, and it worked.” Since then, Byredo has increasingly explore new ways, new categories and products that would express that unrestrictive idea – yet still connecting products to personal memories and emotions. “It is very intuitive for me to connect emotions and smell, and it is equally intuitive for me to connect emotions and design,” he says. “I built Byredo to be anything – that’s the beauty of it. We don’t fit into one category or one definition, and when there is an idea that can’t be bottled into a perfume, we are free to express it in other ways.”
Despite having established what today could only be described as a well-rounded lifestyle brand, Gorham is able to maintain a naïve curiosity about things. “I am able to continue to challenge myself in such a way,” he says, noting that the common denominator to all of his work is about sensation. “In a wearable format, it is all about how it makes you feel. The historical relevance of jewellery is how it transforms and empowers the wearer. The size and the generosity of the jewellery express that. It is how it makes you feel – not how it makes others feel. The visual energy of the jewellery, how you put it on and take it off, is all about that.”