London meet Mimi Lipton – the world’s most interesting, stylish, quirky grandmother (and no I am not biased – you’ll see what I mean by the end of this interview). Born in Austria and educated in England (her family were forced to move during the Second World War), the antique dealer, collector and jewellery lover has led a colourful life from travelling the world, to befriending the Dalai Lama. She is herself a creator: after devoting a lot of her life to art from others, the artisan has now created her own unique collection of over 80 pieces that evoke journeys to the furthest corners of the earth, from rings of Madagascan demantoid, Ethiopian opals and Dinka ivory, to necklaces of carved Baltic amber, Chinese jade and Colombian emeralds.
Below she shares her advice & opinions 🙂 :
What was the first piece of jewellery you designed?
A necklace of 12 different collected beads (see picture below) , including: coral, amber, turquoise, crystal, amethyst, gold & aquamarine.
What made you want to design jewellery?
I was at a loss and quite honestly had nothing to do. It was a complete accident, like everything in life! I guess you could say it was luck.
What are you currently working on?
It is in the initial stages, but I am going to help design a mans boutique in Milan with a divine man called Alessandro, whom I met whilst staying at his boutique hotel in Sardinia this Summer. He loved my style and we got chatting and one thing led to another and here we are !
What do you love most about designing jewellery?
That each piece I create is different and a one-off. I use different materials each time; things I found on the beach, amber from when we went to the Baltic states, opals from Ethiopia…I only work with uncut stones, nothing I have is polished or bling – everything is unique.
What is most important to you as a designer?
The element of surprise, the finished object and desirability
Who is your current favourite Jeweller?
Andrew Grima – his stuff is just out of this world.
How would you describe your fashion style?
Anti-fashion. I could kick my friends who insist on being Catholic widows. They all look as if they’ve come from a tiny French or Greek village and have been in mourning with no makeup and awful shoes! People my age need to be more like Iris Apfel – now she has style!
Where is your favourite place to shop?
Dover Street Market
What are you reading?
‘An Odyssey: A Father, A Son and an Epic’ – Daniel Mendelsohn
What are you watching?
Culture programme on German Satellite and ‘Sturm der Liebe’ – not culture and is a Bavarian Soap Opera…
What are you listening / dancing to?
Pink Floyd, Fado (Portugese music) & Schubert
What are you growing?
I have a fantastic assortment of fruits and vegetables that I grow in my garden: apples, blackberries, chives, mint, plums, red currants and more.
London or Vienna?
50/50 – half and half
Cat or dog?
Dog – Mein Hund ‘Cosmo’ is a coton de tulear…beautiful. I do love cats but sadly am allergic.
Tea or Coffee?
Italian Coffee – Espresso in particular
Sachertorte or Cremeschnitte?
If you could have 3 people to dinner dead or alive who would they be and why?
1. Jonathan Miller
2. Alain de Botton
3. Tom Stoppard
They are all erudite – cultured, sophisticated and educated – you could say they are almost extinct!
Favourite continent you have travelled to?
Favourite Summer Destination:
Austria, of course!
Most recently, Thames and Hudson have created a book with Mimi on this collection of her extraordinary jewellery ‘Untamed Encounters’ -the perfect book for your coffee table. Her other publications include ‘The Tiger Rugs of Tibet’, ‘Stacking Wood’ with Thorsten Düser, and ‘In the Oriental style: A Sourcebook of Decoration and Design‘, with Michael Freeman and Sian Evans.