Embracing Nature and Novel Design with Amanda Hunt

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Amanda Hunt's studio is a treasure trove of artistry. The Marin-based metalsmith has built her eponymous jewelry design practice by placing storytelling at the forefront of her process. This motivation derives from Amanda's enduring exploration of the arts (before her design endeavors, Amanda spent many years as a dancer and teacher).

Today, Amanda's work is an ode to her appreciation for stories and the power they yield on both a creative and conscious level. The designer's commitment to ethical design adds a nuanced layer to the brand's storytelling efforts, and we were fortunate to witness this process unfold in person. And much like her love and appreciation for nature, Amanda herself proved to be a breath of fresh air as we got to know her a bit better during our recent meeting.

Meet Amanda in today's studio visit and find out how she learned to break through the noise of a crowded category like jewelry, and how she's navigated the delicate balance between intuition and inspiration.

Thanks for having us by your studio! Can you tell us a little bit more about your creative story?

Hi! I'm Amanda Hunt. I'm an artist and metalsmith living in Marin, California. To me, being an artist means being committed to a lifelong exploration of creativity. I was a dancer from a young age and spent the beginning of my professional life as a performer. Art and creating art has been the most consistent part of my life, and I truly could not live without it. Being a dancer and dance teacher is about telling a story and helping others to tell their stories. I think I still do that, but now it manifests in metal. When I'm not designing and making jewelry for my namesake brand (and running the business!) I love cooking, studying the tarot, making the perfect playlist, adding to my plant collection, smothering my niece with love, and camping with my husband and pup. Getting outdoors and getting close to nature always brings me back to my center.

We're always interested to know what it's like to build an eponymous brand. What aspects of the Amanda Hunt brand reflect you as a person the most? What elements are ones you would like to embody more of as a person outside of your professional work?

I love a good story. I'm always seeking the deeper meaning behind everything. I look for this in what I make and what I buy. I always ask, who made it? How was it made? What is the story behind it? This is the way I create my line of jewelry. When someone can layer their own story or experience on top of what I've created, magic is made. My jewelry is also very feminine, and I love that. I am usually adorned in all my current collection favorites. But I am also often found in coveralls coated in metal dust, or on my hands and knees building a fire in the woods. I love that I am a capable gal, but these things don't necessarily make me feel feminine. So I love getting closer to that aspect of my brand. I am investing in more dresses this year.

Who is the Amanda Hunt woman? how do you hope to see her evolve as your approach to design changes?

She is a woman of a unique style that desires personal expression in the form of adornment and cares not only for the design but the root of the design. The meaning behind it and the way it was made. Someone who likes to feel the quality of her fabrics and the weight of her jewelry. As I continue to create more designs in 14 karat gold, I hope my women will invest in the symbols and designs that resonate with them and make these into heirlooms that can be passed down. Investing in gold is ensuring a long life for your jewelry. And a long life for your story. This is something really special.

You've mentioned that nature is integral to your brand's mission and design process. Has this always been the case and why do you think basing your design studio in Marin County makes sense for the brand across the board?

My relationship with nature is deeply rooted; I think it was all the time I spent in the wilderness as a kid on summer trips with my family. It was a place I could escape, where I always felt accepted and free. Now it is more about a state of mind. Spending time outdoors reminds me to slow down, be grateful for the moment, and take notice of my surroundings with all my senses. This helps me get into the creative state of mind.

I haven't always lived near nature, though. I started my business in San Francisco, and at the time, I needed the resources and support close at hand for my business. And though I love the energy and drive that a city brings to personal and professional life, when it comes to happiness, I knew that I had to get even closer to nature. So for the last few years, I've been slowly doing that. My move to Marin is one of the stepping stones to eventually getting deeper into the trees. It gives me easy access to San Francisco for business and easy access to all the rivers, lakes, and forests I like to visit in my free time.

We've been challenging our community to think about the ways they find and cultivate inspiration in their work all season long. How has your source of inspiration changed over time?

My sources used to be a lot more straight forward. I would explore an ancient symbol or myth, and it would inspire a collection. As I evolve, my designs manifest from a more abstract practice. The meditative act of simply sitting down, beginning to work with the metal or wax, and letting the images or feelings that are currently resonating with me flow into the work. Trusting my intuition about how I can put these into form in a way that is universally desirable is something that has grown over time for me, and I still continue to hone.

Brand Assembly is committed to creating a singular framework for brands to do what they do best: design. What advice do you have for fellow designers who are looking to hone in on their identity or find new sources of inspiration in a particularly crowded category like jewelry?

Don't wait for a divine download of inspiration. Get to work. Most of my designs are birthed from the doing and not the sitting around and sketching or looking through books for inspiration. Getting into the metal and the wax and the stones and seeing what they can do. And then making it YOU.

I would also say approach the making with an open mind and without judgment or expectations of what the result might be. Making bad work and making mistakes is part of the creative process. I create a lot of pieces I don't like, but then there is the one that I do. And that one makes it onto my body and into my collection.

Lastly, find nature. Nature is everywhere, even if you live in the city. I spent a lot of time living in LA, New York, London, and San Francisco, and I found there is nature in these places too. Wake up at 6 am and step out onto your fire escape, and you'd be surprised how many birds are out and about and in conversation as the sun rises. Nature balances us humans, and it will bring you into the creative state of mind.

What do you hope to assemble daily?

An appreciation for handmade jewelry, and handmade work in general. I believe metal holds memories and energy, so when a jeweler's hands are creating a piece instead of a machine, the story is better. The maker is happier, the intention for the piece is present in the metal, and the impact on the earth is kinder. As a consumer, you can feel this when you wear handmade. Investing in a handmade item is honoring yourself, your story, and the earth.

Photos by Melissa de Mata for Brand Assembly