Interview // Ex Ovo

A native of Germany, Katrin Zimmermann holds degrees in Chinese, Art+Archaeology, and in Jewelry Design. She traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia before setting up her studio in Harlem. The exposure to such different cultures is evident in her approach to design -- she draws on a base that is international, multicultural and diverse. The result is a line of progressive sterling silver and acrylic art jewelry that is architectural, minimalist and modern.

Katrin is also a member of the CFDA, Associate Professor at Pratt Institute and advisory board member of New York City Jewelry Week. 

Where are you from?

I was born in the southern part of Germany, and educated in Switzerland and England before moving to China as part of my university education- I studied Chinese and Art+Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and Beijing.  I traveled a lot during that time, all over Europe and Asia. This exposure to different cultures has really influenced my approach to design.

Where do you live now? 

In Harlem, New York!  Again, it’s a very diverse and exciting place to be, and it gives me a very different view of this wonderful city.

What is your inspiration?

I draw my inspiration from a base that is international, multicultural and diverse, but I am most inspired by the wabi-sabi element in Japanese art.
The focus of my design aesthetic is reduction: my goal is to bring out singularity through simplicity. I try to incorporate the space around my jewelry into the design of each piece- positive and negative space are equally important to me.  My work is based on a constant search for technical and design innovation. I fuse traditional handcrafting methods with state-of-the-art industrial manufacturing, allowing me to bridge the divide between manus and machina.

Who do you greatly admire?

" I adore Richard Serra.  The simplicity and power of his clean lines are exactly what I am trying to achieve with my pieces.  The three-dimensionality of his work is essential to mine also."

Talk about your latest jewelry

My newest line is called LUCENT.  I use Adobe Illustrator to design concentric templates in 2D.  This virtually eliminates material waste- every shape, nestled within a larger shape, becomes a part of a piece of jewelry.  Laser cut, then hand polished, I then thermoform each piece into outsize sculptural jewelry, and set some with semi-precious stones.  The material properties of acrylic allow my designs to be more process-based in this double creative approach.  The same template may be used to make a necklace or a bracelet, for example.  The sculptural quality of acrylic makes it an exciting and immediate material to work with. The sheer abundance of colors does not diminish the clean simplicity of the finished piece, but rather enhances it. The result is a line of progressive sterling silver and acrylic art jewelry that is architectural, minimalist and modern.

What is your favorite drink?

Vietnamese iced coffee and Alsatian whites.

Last meal?

One dish from every restaurant in New York City, outer boroughs included- and serve it slowly!

Favorite track?

Schubert Impromptu #2 in A flat major, played by Alfred Brendel.

Tried and true methods against creative block:

What’s creative block?  Never had one of those.

What else do you do?

I am also also a member of the CFDA, a professor at Pratt Institute in the jewelry department,  and a founding advisory board member of New York City Jewelry week. 
I also hold salons in my townhouse in Harlem to highlight the creativity in this wonderful place.


Like: My daughter, my friends, my students, my sanity and my creativity.
Dislike: Boredom, uniformity, arrogance, narrow-mindedness and stupidity.