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The New York-based jewelry designer Melissa Kaye is familiar to change and unordinary circumstances. After studying computer science at MIT and then computational finance at Carnegie Mellon, she decided to pursue her lifelong interest in jewelry design by studying at FIT.
Kaye’s eponymous collection reflects life’s twists and turns—the geometric and natural patterns inspired by her mathematical background. Unexpected details are seen in an array of her pieces, all aimed to be bright, go-to pieces for the wearer.
Recently, Kaye has had to stop production on her jewelry amid the stay-at-home orders in New York. While isolated, she spoke with Whitewall about the challenges of creating today, how she’s staying connected, and staying inspired by her city.
WHITEWALL: How are you doing?
MELISSA KAYE: I feel very fortunate that my family and I are all safe and healthy. I’ve been trying to stay productive, focusing on what I can accomplish while unable to continue my regular routine.
WW: What are you listening to, reading, watch?
MK: I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of pandemic related news and podcasts—probably too much. As a nice contrast, I’ve been binge-watching a number of shows: “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Shrill,” and “Little Fires Everywhere” to name a few.
WW: What are you cooking?
MK: Prior to the pandemic, my husband and I very rarely cooked. Amazingly, we have been cooking every meal since we’ve been quarantined and much to my surprise, really enjoying it! Some standout dishes include braised short ribs, eggplant parmesan, and Tonkatsu with blistered shishito peppers. My quarantine resolution is to continue cooking regularly when things resume.
WW: How are you staying connected?
MK: We are all fortunate that it’s now very easy to stay connected through FaceTime, Zoom, etc. If anything, I’m connecting with friends and family now more than ever, as people are really taking the time to check in on one another. One highlight has been my daily FaceTime study sessions with my niece and nephew.
WW: How are you staying creative? Are you able to make work at this time?
MK: Our collection is made in NYC, so our manufacturing has of course been under a mandated shut down. We had a lot of new pieces in process before the quarantine that are in various stages of completion. My design process tends to be very iterative, so new product development has been a challenge.
However, designing never stops. Although we have been working from home, I have been wearing a ton of jewelry with my athleisure wardrobe. This has been helpful in two ways. First, the jewelry is certainly mood-boosting. Second, the more time I spend, wearing, interacting and playing with jewelry, the more it generates new ideas.
Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to getting back into the workshop with our incredible team of local artisans. We have many exciting projects on the horizon which I can’t wait to complete and unveil!
WW: Where are you finding hope or inspiration?
MK: This is such a challenging time for all of us. I find it hopeful to see so many people coming together to help one another. Especially New Yorkers who are resilient and always rise to the occasion and come out stronger.
As a born-and-bred New Yorker, I find the city is a never-ending source of inspiration—from the people and the pace, to the architecture, art and urban nature. The city currently looks and sounds so much different, which is really interesting to experience and allows you to appreciate ordinary things in an extraordinary time.