Leonie Simpson weaves inspiration from nature throughout her pieces. She crafts earrings evocative of fire, wind and rain, rings that mimic the jagged edges of rock formations, and pendants wave-like in their undulations. Organic forms, semi-precious natural stones and metals such as silver and gold are worked in tandem with 3D-printing and manmade materials like nylon and acrylic, resulting in pieces that call to mind nature without precisely mirroring it.
“[I take a] minimalist approach to the things I find fascinating in nature,” says Leonie. “I take something and pull the elements out of it, and strip it down to how I would interpret how it looks.”Leonie calls her entrance into jewellery ‘serendipitous’. The former exercise physiologist found respite in crafting jewellery after injuring her back. “It was the first time in years I hadn’t thought about my pain,” she says of her first class. “The attention and the energy it gave me…I just loved the process.”
A childhood spent surrounded by the dramatic escarpments of Blue Mountains resonates throughout Leonie’s work. As does a lifelong obsession with stones; her younger self dreamed of being a volcanologist and this obsession continues to find its way into her designs. Along with the rock-like forms that are the cornerstone of so many of her pieces, she often incorporates semi-precious stones such as opals and onyx. Her upcoming collection – mainly rings – will see more traditional and precious stones like sapphires enter the mix.“Matching flowing designs with a hard faceted stone has always been a challenge in finding balance,” she explains. Elements of her first collection, the Wave Series, will also be absorbed into the new range. “It’s old stuff, but bringing in new stuff to give it a new life.”For Leonie, 3D-printing – which she learnt while undertaking a diploma at the Design Centre in Enmore – offers opportunities to advance both form and function. It allows her to achieve the clean, minimalist lines and curvatures she leans towards in her designs. But it also gives her the ability to create larger-scale pieces that are almost weightless.
“With earrings, if you’re using traditional metal they can get very heavy, but the materiality of [3D-printing] allows you to make really big pieces without being cumbersome on the ear.”
Leonie likes the idea of creating ‘ambiguous’ jewellery – pieces that aren’t designed for a specific occasion or type of person. Both men and women wear her pieces, and they’re as appropriate for a wedding or engagement as they are for a gift to the self. “I think traditional jewellery is fantastic, but I find it has rules and traditions, which in their own [way] are fantastic. But I like going, ‘I like this setting, but how can I make it a little bit different?’”
Leonie's latest collection will be exhibited at Co_ta in early 2024. Sign up to the Parti below to be invited to the opening.
Words: Che-Marie Trigg Photography: Kim Low Model: Merridy Hugo
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