Name / occupation / location / star sign?
Jeanette Lai Thomas / jewellery designer / Brooklyn, NY / Taurus.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Singapore but grew up in Hong Kong and left for the U.S. when I was 16.
How did you get into jewelry design?
I’ve always been into accessories. I believe that everyone can wear a similar outfit but what makes the difference is the attention to detail and accessories. I launched my line, Moratorium, in 2009 when I first moved to Amsterdam. I started up selling pieces to friends and the more I made the more I sold, so I thought, why not make it a serious business. It was a business that I could take with me wherever I moved to.
Where does the name come from?
Moratorium means ‘a suspension of activity’. I started designing jewellery as a stress reliever for the daily mundane activities dealing with moving. It was my way of stopping everything else and doing what I wanted - an outlet for my creativity.
Tell me a bit about your work?
My designs are geometric and consist of very straight clean lines. I found that the simpler the line, the more exact I had to be. I want my pieces to transcend seasons, trends and gender.
What inspires you?
Patterns, architecture, nature. I take inspiration from things that are constant. Something, which I hope, my jewellery can also be - timeless.
Do you have any advice for new, young designers?
Work, work, work! Keep pushing forward. You are your best promoter, so always wear your jewellery out. Always have a vision in your head of where you want to be. Always carry a sketch book.
What is your relationship with fashion?
I love fashion but I never take it seriously. Fashion is meant to be fun. When I design for Moratorium, I don’t look at trends. As I only work in precious metals, I want to be able to take pieces out whenever and for them to still be relevant.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’ve always been a tomboy – the only girl in a group of nine riding around the neighborhood on BMX’s when I was eight years old. Now, I need clothes that I can work in, not be precious about and can ride a motorcycle in - so I’m naturally drawn to more boyish, utilitarian clothes. I look at really girlie clothes and I’m think “that’s really pretty but I couldn’t function in it”.
Is that an Angelique tattoo on your arm?
Yes! I just got back from Amsterdam where I got a gypsy by her. I love her work. I have a print of hers, ‘Georgette’, that watches over me at my bench.
Has your style changed since moving to New York?
In NY, where the winters are super cold and summers super hot, sometimes being practical is more important than fashionable. I don’t think my style has changed much, though when I was younger, I did wear a lot more vintage.
How does fashion in New York differ from fashion in London and Amsterdam?
I think London style is a lot bolder than NY and Amsterdam. Londoners aren't afraid to try new things. I specifically love East London men’s style - there’s a small group of men that can perfectly mix punk with sportswear and something tailored. Amsterdam kids are a bit more conservative and mellow when it comes to fashion, it’s a lot of clean lines and classic elements with a play on patterns and colour.
Favorite designers / stores?
NY - Patron if the New, Opening Ceremony. London - Dover Street Market, LN_CC. Amsterdam - Ennu. Hong Kong - Gareth Pugh, Lane Crawford, I.T.
Black leather Balenciaga pants and Gareth Pugh for Melissa sandals for summer.
What's on your summer wish list?
Nothing I spent all my money on the leather pants! Maybe a new motorcycle.
Discovered any interesting designers lately?
Nicolas Andreas Taralis which you can find at Only Patron of the New in NY.
Favorite New York hangout?
An Choi, my best friend’s Vietnamese restaurant in Lower East Side.
I’m visiting NY for the first time, where should I go?
The Museum of Modern Art, Highline to watch the sunset, Patron of the New, Balenciaga and Williamsburg to check out the many vintage stores.
Your personal soundtrack?
Portishead, Bjork, A Place to Bury Strangers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bon Iver, Nirvana, TV On The Radio, LCD Soundsystem, Jose Gonzales, Smashing Pumpkins, Death From Above 1979, Dax Riggs and the list goes on. I’ve also got Hanni El Khatib on repeat right now.
The last time you did something for the first time?
I was a tattoo tourist – I actually flew somewhere for a tattoo.
What do you like to do when you have some time off?
Weather permitting I’m out on my motorcycle. I love snowboarding in the winter - it’s a great stress reliever. In the summer, I go to the beach, of course. I try to do yoga but then I end up staying out on my motorcycle.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
I’m working hard towards getting my jewelry in a few retail stores around the world. I hope to still be living in NY and that my dog Baron gets a buddy.