An Interview with Katie Gerson: House of Katharine Design

P&M: You grew up in Southeast Asia.  Could you tell us where and what your most vivid memories of your childhood are?  

KG: I lived in Bangkok, Thailand, Taipei, Taiwan, and Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar). My most vivid memories include attending International school with children
from all over the world, enjoying the native foods and spicy dishes, learning about the culture (Buddhism), and all of the interesting colorful, natural geographies in such lush climates.


P&M: How did your childhood influence your decision to commit to jewelry design and how does it impact your designs?  

KG: I believe my childhood influenced me to think about the world in a broader sense, with more sensitivity and intensity, therefore allowing me to observe ideas that flow into
new ways of looking at things.  This synthesis is something that comes easily when I design jewelry.

P&M: How do you introduce yourself and describe yourself to new people you meet?

KG: I’m an entrepreneur and community volunteer.

P&M: You travel quite a bit.  Could you tell us about your most recent trip and perhaps give us some hints about new pieces you are developing?

KG: My most recent trip was a family journey through Indochina. I was able to visit a Pearl Farm in Halong Bay, Vietnam where I learned the intricacies of the art of saltwater pearl farming.
My last stop was in Shanghai where I purposely spent many hours scouring the Pearl Market for new gemstones and pearls.  I also met with two Pearl vendors where I was able to design
from inventory, on the spot. Their in-house Chinese labor made it cost and time efficient to do this. Some of the stones I’m loving now are pyrite, darker pearls, aquamarine and labradorite in more delicate

P&M: What does “being creative” mean to you?

KG: Creativity comes from being highly observant of the world around you. Honestly, most of my ideas are those that come from seeing other pieces or techniques, that I morph into new variations and compositions.

P&M: Tell us about your creative process…

KG: I visualize form where there was none before. But….. I have to be inspired first. I look at nature, art, fabrics…..color combinations, textures, and forms. I put these ideas together in my head, and
sometimes I’ll sketch out my design like a math problem. Other times, I just need to see, touch and feel gemstones to see inspiration. I also use my abilities to knit, sew, crochet and sculpt that take
me in new directions with wire, fabrics, gemstones and more.

P&M: How do you work through a creative block?  

KG: I walk away from creating jewelry and focus on my other work…, volunteering and more.  I have to step away to come back fresh, and that means
stepping away for a day or two, or sometimes a month or two!

P&M: What motivates/inspires your work? What are you trying to communicate through your work?

KG: I’ve always loved the idea of “refined chaos”. The notion that you can take something that seems unruly (like wire or oddly shaped gems) and
create a refined, symmetrical, tactile piece of art. I recently tried the art of glass blowing.  That somewhat meets this criterion as the hot glass is unruly
and you are creating something refined in the end. Think of Chihuly chandeliers. Now that’s motivating!

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