April 12, 2017
Inspired by architecture and her multi-cultural heritage, Lola Oladunjoye of Lola Fenhirst expertly blends her background and experiences to create her unique collection of fine jewelry. With sustainability at the core of her business, Lola finds that her customer base appreciate products that are not only well-crafted, but also created mindfully. We spoke with the designer to discover her inspiration, design process and her commitment to ethically and sustainably sourced materials.
How did you get your start in the jewelry industry?I was 10 years into my career as a technology lawyer in San Francisco when I realized I needed a career change. I felt a strong impetus to do something creative. I began taking classes in jewelry design at the California College of the Arts where I studied the craft of jewelry making, I continued researching the fine jewelry industry, and in 2015 I resigned from my in-house counsel position and launched Lola Fenhirst.
What inspires your designs?Architecture, beautiful buildings, and my multi-cultural heritage. I was born and raised in London, lived in Nigeria for 10 years while going to university, and then practiced law in California for over a decade. Each of these experiences informs my concept of beauty and adornment and strongly influences my design aesthetic.
How would you describe the “Lola Fenhirst” woman?My collections are designed with a fiercely independent, well-traveled woman in mind. Each piece I create, possesses a universal appeal and inherent wearability that has proven appealing to the gallery owner and art collector in San Francisco, lawyer in London and editor in New York. I take inspiration from all of the different women in my life and look at the Lola Fenhirst brand as a vehicle for empowerment.
My stacking rings, no question. I never leave the house without some configuration on either my middle, index or ring finger.
For you personally, what are your most loved/worn accessories?
Most of my designs are inspired by structures and buildings, particularly Art Deco, Mediterranean buildings with detailed ironwork. My Sybil 7-piece necklace for instance, started its life as an iron grill on a Mediterranean-style mansion in Berkeley, California. I took initial photos, then started sketching my ideas from the images, and eventually began developing the fine spun, wire wrapped filament around a sturdy, Byzantine frame. This wrap technique has become the foundation of my collections. I am a believer in collaboration, so I work very closely with my production team on developing my prototypes. If a piece is going to be cast, we do a CAD design and then a 3-D print. I thoroughly embrace technology in design, rather than shy away from it.
What is your design process; how do you source your materials?
All of my materials are ethically and sustainably sourced. We only use recycled gold- yellow rose, white and green- and all of our diamonds and gemstones are conflict and devastation-free. Sustainability is a core tenet of my business, and I’ve found that discerning consumers appreciate having a product that is well-crafted and beautiful while being created mindfully.
What is your favorite metal, materials or gemstones to work with and why?The majority of my pieces are sculpted in yellow gold, but I’m besotted with rose gold. In my designs I use 20K, which gives a warm, rich hue but is still sturdy enough to hold stones. Opal is also endlessly fascinating to me. It’s petrified water, which is fascinating in and of itself. I’m particularly drawn to rare forms, such as Denim Opal-which is a pale, delicate blue, and Prase Opal, which has a luminous, bright fiery green hue.
Browse more jewelry from Lola Fenhirst in our Jewelry Gallery.