Designer Q&A: Collette Ishiyama

My idea of happiness: Spending my days doing something that never makes me look at the clock and wish the hours would pass quicker.  Some days that means working, some days it means not working, but I guess having some flexibility and listening to my impulses keeps me happy.

If you had to describe your aesthetic in three words what would it be?  Graphic, architectural, and bitchy.  I like to take shapes that are more classic and make them more blank, less ornate.  I'm pretty influenced by buildings in NYC, particularly the Chrysler Building.  And bitchy not in a way of actual meanness, but a costumey sort of sharpness.  Like the show Dynasty...

What is your favorite piece of jewelry to wear and why?  I've been wearing the Large Saber Studs from my new collection a lot.  They're flattering and it's hard to find bigger earrings that don't get lost in my hair. 

Where did you grow up?  What did you dream you'd be when you grew up?  I grew up in NJ.  I either wanted to make things (I drew and sewed a lot from a young age) or be a pirate ( this involved pretending my bed was a ship, bossing my stuffed animals around, and playing with my mom's jewelry).  My current occupation meshes those interests nicely. 

Who/what is your style inspiration?  For personal style, my favorites are Diana Vreeland,  Freddie Mercury, and Jane Birkin.  I once helped Jane Birkin shop years ago when I worked at a men's clothing store (note: she was buying men's things for herself), and she was so much fun!  Like, buying shoes 4 sizes too big and stuffing the toes.  She didn't seem to take herself too seriously.

If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?  I have a space in my living room reserved for Jeff Koons' Michael Jackson and Bubbles

What is your favorite part of your job?  My favorite part is developing new pieces.  I carve all of the waxes by hand, so it's gratifying to have something really delicate that you've worked on for hours and hours become permanent in metal.  Its one of those things that you can do a million times without losing the excitement.  I love that. 

What is your favorite way to spend a Sunday?  Wake up pretty early, go to brunch, maybe at Prune (I love their bloody marys; they come with a tiny beer on the side.)   Then a bike ride to the Antiques Garage flea market on 25th street for treasure hunting.  At this point, if I haven't acquired something too large to carry (life sized ceramic tiger, etc), I'll head to the Met's Egyptian exhibit and poke around there.  Then home to get some work done and make tacos for dinner.

What do you covet at Catbird?  It's hard to pick, but Polly Wales makes amazing jewelry.  Her rings remind me of eroded sculptures.  

Featured in this post: Owl Studs, $100;  Emerald City Necklace, $200;  Large Saber Stud Earrings, $120; Lion Mane Necklace, $175
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