Jeweller Holly Ryan on creating her new sustainable studio
The artist lets us into her new favourite space
By Erica Watson
Google Holly Ryan and you’ll discover stockists boasting her minimalist pieces from all corners of the globe. There are press articles singing the praises of this highly successful jeweller and sculptor and celebrities sharing their favourite pieces. And while her rise to fame might seem overnight, Holly has been honing her craft for the best part of a decade, constantly refining her practice and always striving to be better from a sustainability standpoint. We chatted with Holly after the opening of her brand-new studio in Sydney’s Surry Hills, a space filled with beautiful vintage designer furniture and catering to Holly’s sustainable sensibilities.
Congratulations on your studio, can you tell us about the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! The inspiration was to create a space that reflects the core values of the brand; natural sustainability, artisanship, and circularity. With this in mind, the fit-out was custom-made using recycled hardwoods, no-VOC mineral and plant-based enamel white washes with natural pine oil varnishes. The space is filled with my Holly Ryan Studio sculptures, and ceramic sculptures by my friend @sabrinasterk. And much of the furniture was sourced second hand through Vampt Vintage Design or Curated Spaces.
What was it like opening the studio in the middle of a pandemic?
This has been such an intense year, but the silver lining for us has been that it afforded the space to slow down a little and really focus on building HR HQ with conscious intention.
How long was it in the works?
I have been dreaming the space up for such a long time! But from moving in to completion of the fit-out and design elements was just under six months.
You’ve credited your parents for your sustainable approach to business and life, what was your childhood like?
I grew up in Coolum on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, so I was always surrounded by nature – which is why so many of my designs are still inspired by the raw beauty of nature. My parents are both silversmiths as well, so I grew up watching that alchemical process and the way they approached it with sustainability in mind.
What do you do when you’re not in the studio?
I love being out in nature, whether that’s taking a long hike or a headland walk, going for a swim or a surf in the ocean, or just lying around in a park with my mates.
You’ve been designing for 10 years, how has the sustainable jewellery space changed over that time?
There is definitely a lot more interest in sustainable jewellery design now, both from brands and customers, which is great to see! But, with that, comes a lot of greenwashing too, so in some ways it is more important now than ever for us to double-down on the sustainable principles that have always been at the heart of the brand.
You talk about recognising that ethical fashion is a journey, not a destination, can you tell us more?
You can’t just slap an ethical stamp on your brand and be done with it. There is always more that can be done in order to refine our processes and to make them more responsible overall – which is something that we are committed to doing as a brand.
What are your favourite sustainable fashion labels?
I basically live in my friend Laura’s brand Nagnata and also love Veja for sneakers or Patagonia for outdoor wear. Vintage denim and band tees are also a go-to for me, because shopping second hand is also an important part of building a sustainable wardrobe.
Are you into natural beauty? If so what are your favourites?
I am very low key when it comes to beauty! But some of my favourite natural beauty products include perfume oils by The Ayu for my body and Lesse Ritual Serum for my face.
What advice would you give to other artists who want to make a difference with their craft?
Follow your intuition and stay true to your vision.