Minimalism and rebelliousness are not the easiest qualities to balance in fine jewelry. The fact is we live in a day and age when a lot of edgy artistry is about over-the-top baroque looks. Think Gucci. Kim Mee Hee is one jewelry collection that stands out for keeping things restrained and wildly imaginative. Though the label only launched a mere three years ago, it has rapidly become popular among women who have a fearless sense of style.
The Korea-born designer behind the brand, Kimy Gringoire, as you might imagine, is easily one of the coolest people I have ever met. Growing up in Belgium, she found the right soil for her creative expressions and studied jewelry craftsmanship at the prestigious Les Arts et Métiers in Brussel. “I had always wanted to be a designer,” she says. Jewelry came as a perfect opportunity giving her the “freedom and inspiration to create innovative pieces.”
Living in London, Kimy designs her jewelry with maniacal precision as “an object itself that has to be beautiful and perfect, whether it is worn or not.” Her determined style draws upon her travels, everything she sees and discovers in life. “I am surrounded by designers and artists. We influence and inspire each other. And that is why KMH is much more than just a jewelry brand: it offers a creative point of view on what design and luxury could be,” she says. “Before, jewelry was a statement of glamour and luxury. Today, it can also be a force to show our personality and make us feel empowered.”
Find out more about the amazing designer and her Kim Mee Hee creations in our interview below.
How did jewelry become a key focus in your life and career?
I never used to wear jewels. It is why I decided to create the jewels of my dreams —something that is both casual and sophisticated, that gives you the luxury of choosing to either reveal or conceal the diamonds.
What were the first pieces you created and what inspired those jewels?
After being married for six years to a tattoo artist, I became very familiar with the ‘underground culture.’ There is something very strong and fragile in the way we express our feelings through the symbol, of trust, love and illusion. For me, what makes a tattoo so powerful is how it expresses emotions in a timeless way – it is supposed to be for life. The first pieces I designed were crosses and ring that could be both opened and engraved with a secret word an emotion on the inside. Instead of tattooing your skin, you can tattoo your jewels. This is how I used to see jewelry when I started the brand in 2015 and that was my first inspiration.
The architecture of your jewellery is brilliant. It is all about balancing curves and lines as you mentioned. How did you work out the engineering?
While I design a collection, I also constantly work with the ‘atelier’ trying to realise the structure and mechanism that I have in my mind. We have always found a way to make things happen. Sometimes, we just need more time but at the end we figure it out and it works.
Your earrings are darn cool! How do you constantly add an element of surprise and ‘newness’ into the designs?
I try to see ‘jewelry’ as a long designing process that brings something new, clever and bold, among the others in the big picture that is the jewelry industry. I think it is important to elevate the design season after season with new ideas and new perspectives. With the first collections focusing on a sober design and strong symbols with hidden mechanisms, I felt the need to innovate further by proposing something new but more like an accessory.
Last year, I decided to work on new shapes to the collections and make them float on the body by creating hidden attachments. In the ‘Foyer’ collection, the idea was to add a layer on your ear that reshapes them.
With the ‘Tropic Topic line,’ I decided to play with curves and lines, as I always do, and create a subjective interpretation of tropical creatures. The conducting wire through those collections is composed in the way I design them. I am obsessed with the right balance between the curve and line. I think it is amazing and powerful to interpret ideas or topics through simple lines and curves.
How have you interpreted nature in your Tropic Topic and Blossom Topic collections?
Playing with lines and curves and proposing a more subjective interpretation of ‘flowers or tropical birds’ is much more powerful and subtle. With Blossom Topic, I wanted to realize a romantic collection that pays tribute to women of any age. I have tried to express the timeless beauty of all women and the collection also sees some Asian influence. Analyzing the beauty of any season, especially Spring and Fall, when the petals blossom and then start to fall away, it signifies the celebration of renewal. The statement is still KMH in the way you would wear the diamonds and the mechanism would remain hidden. The aesthetic, though, is more delicate with each piece floating on the body. I think this collection is much more feminine due to the elegance of the form and it also highlights the beauty of the gems.