Q&A with Mimi So
Meet Mimi So, a New York-based jewelry designer known for a “distinctive and definitive fashion vibe” and a large celebrity clientele. Her jewelry consists of primarily graphic designs featuring organic shapes, clean and asymmetrical lines, and bold fluid movements.
In 2005, Mimi So opened a three-story penthouse overlooking 5th Avenue in New York, where her jewelry is predominantly handmade. Mimi’s designs can be found at Neiman Marcus and other fine jewelry retailers worldwide.
So generally releases two to three limited edition jewelry collections per year, in sync with the fashion calendar. Her upcoming collection, Wonderland, promises to be just as unique, bold and beautiful as ever.
Mimi So gives us the scoop on her background, passion for design and what her own Wonderland might look like 10 years from now.
Tell me more about your passion for design as a child. How it has changed, grown and developed since then?
As a child, my passion for designing jewelry has not changed much from then to today. The passion remains the same because, as a young little girl, designing pretty things was magical, exciting and felt glamorous. As I mature with age, my taste level only gets more sophisticated and more expensive because my appetite gets larger and my passion grows deeper. I love fashion so I am constantly designing and creating what I want to wear with different types of clothing. I create for lifestyle versatility, self-pleasure and enjoyment.
What are some current fashion or style trends that inspire you? Did you incorporate those trends in your newest collection?
I am a trendsetter so I create what I feel is inspiring to introduce to fans and collectors of the brand. It always starts from a personal journey within, combined with my personal taste, what I am feeling and what I want to wear. I like graphic and tailored lines, but I also enjoy soft, fluid fabrics as well. This season we are introducing Wonderland, a magical floral motif that encompasses creatures from the garden such as a ladybug, bumblebee, a bird, butterflies and a bunny. It’s a happy place to visit and enjoy the surrounding beauty. This year, the Bohemian free spirit, vibrant colors and floral design are very strong in fashion. I am very pleased that our Wonderland collection complements the finished look for any of these styles.
What trends do you think are overplayed? Are there any current trends (be it clothing, jewelry, interior design, etc.) that you find too “safe” or boring?
Trends are generally overplayed, hence they are trends, because it’s relevant for a moment and then it moves on to something else. I don’t really find any trend too safe or boring. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. Trends are when it’s daring and risk-taking because it’s trying something out. It’s never boring or safe because this is that moment when you can experiment the most in any artistic sense.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry from your own line?
My favorite piece of jewelry is our signature Piece Swing necklace. It symbolizes my window growing up, looking out as a child and still, until this day, wondering what is outside. Each rectangular square shape represents the past, present and future.
What are some unique ways in which you use color in your jewelry? What is your process in choosing the perfect color?
The unique ways I use color in my jewelry are the combination of tones and hues. It depends if I am creating a monotone feeling or a contrast of vibrant colors. I can easily use purple/blue and add a hint of green emeralds as an element of surprise! Or if I’m creating a piece with turquoise bolder opals I will create a palette reflecting the beauty of the sea, incorporating shades of blues and greens.
You have a great eye for detail—do you think that is something innate to you, something you’ve always had? Or do you think it is a skill that anyone can acquire?
A very famous designer and dear friend, Carolina Herrera, made a very clear statement that a great designer has to first have a great eye and then the rest will follow. You can develop skills and perfect certain technical abilities but talent is innate and must come naturally.
What is the hardest part of the design process for you? Is there anything you dread doing?
I strive for perfection and want to deliver magnificent designs. The hardest thing is when I push the envelope for the very best design and will not settle for less. I set a high bar that is applied across the board, so it becomes challenging to achieve that level of quality. It means long hours, hard work and a lot of revisions to make each piece precisely the way I envision it to be for myself and for my clients.
What part of the design process do you enjoy the most? Why is that particular part fun for you?
I enjoy the inspiration behind the process the most because it comes from a genuine place and it connects with our collectors. I also enjoy watching the evolution of the designs unfold before me. Each piece comes alive, blossoming into three-dimensional forms glittering in diamonds, gemstones and gold.
What other passions or hobbies do you have? Do those passions influence your designs?
My other hobby is eating! I love food and trying all types of cuisine. For me, food is intoxicating. I’m very exploratory and it is another way of discovering a different process of art, creativity and quality. I’m mesmerized by the taste or the design in the dish or its preparation. It’s very sensual.
What is something major you’d like to achieve within the next 10 years?
What I would like to achieve in the next few years would be happiness and a healthy lifestyle that I can enjoy more regularly. Working so much and striving to realize my dreams and ambitions, I seldom have the true luxury of time to enjoy the very simple things in life. If I can achieve a fruitful future for my family, children, friends and business, I would be very blessed.