“There are two kinds of diamonds in this world: The diamond itself and the eyes full of love!” – Unknown
Designer Michael Dobkin is creating quite the buzz in the fashion world with his mastery of minimalism and geometric lines in his jewelry collection, Rosey West. Michael draws his inspiration for the collection from fairytales like “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” his goal is have each piece tell a story without literally speaking a word. His creations have a timeless quality that reminds me of my favorite childhood book “Alice in Wonderland” – sweet, innocent, and perfect for every occasion.
Michael Dobkin, All That Glitters
Justin Howard for Black Chalk : What was the first piece you ever designed?
Michael Dobkin : For Rosey West, it was dew drop eternity ring. I wanted tiny diamonds hand set in an organic pattern. Much like if dew formed on a plain gold band overnight and you woke up with a drops of diamonds scattered across your finger.
Black Chalk : What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
Michael Dobkin : I would say my biggest accomplishment would be launching my own line. I had the opportunity to work for some pretty influential names in the industry early on in my career. Those designs have been featured in high end publications and retail, but there is nothing quite like something that’s exclusively yours having the same effect on the industry.
The day we launched the website, our first press mention was in Harper’s Bazaar – a roundup of unique engagement rings, and mine was the first one listed. I couldn’t believe it, so many designers wait years for that kind of recognition, and we got it right out the gate. It’s the perfect memory to keep for years down the road.
Black Chalk : Who are some of your favorite designers?
Michael Dobkin : It really depends with my mood, there are the designers I wear and the designers I support & appreciate their creations. I would have to say my top favorite designers are All Saints, Rag & Bone, Calvin Klein, and Ryan Roche.
Black Chalk : Do you consider yourself an artist?
Michael Dobkin : If you asked me this question a few years ago, I would have said no. I was always against the word “artist,” because it didn’t feel serious enough to me. I defined myself as being a designer. There’s something more practical and pragmatic about the word “designer.” Now that I own my own business, I’ve had a complete change of heart.
The process of creating a line, from inspiration to manufacturing and all the way to editorial is one of artistic expression. Design, in the end for me, is working to reconcile an emotional feeling and translating that into a physical object. So now at this point, I would say yes – I am an artist.
Black Chalk : What matters to you most as a designer?
Michael Dobkin : Authenticity and staying true to my personal values. At the end of the day I design for myself with the hopes that I am reaching clients that share similar aesthetics and values.
When it comes to personal values, I felt very passionate about making everything in New York City. I wanted to support the local economy, and be able to work side by side with my manufacturer to make sure the quality of the pieces produced meet my standard of approval. There’s something meaningful about knowing the people who create the pieces. Sitting down with them, problem solving and creating design solutions. It makes the entire process come full circle and helps me as a designer feel more engaged in my work.
Black Chalk : What’s your favorite part about conceptualizing a design?
Michael Dobkin : It goes back to reconciling an emotional feeling and creating a tangible object to represent that feeling. When I was in design school, you would hear the same inspirations from everyone, “Jelly fish, flowers, this or that era of dress.”
I always felt like the black sheep, because what I was designing was based on a novel, a poem, or an emotion. The lack of visual representation always threw people, but the idea of storytelling always helped me conceptualize my designs. I found ways to pick apart stories and infuse them into my designs. It’s a non-visual way of creating something tangible and physical.
Black Chalk – What do you like best about designing jewelry?
Michael Dobkin : The meaning and longevity behind it. Clothes, almost no matter what, will age and decay. Jewelry, specifically fine jewelry, is meant to last. You can still wear your great-grandmother’s engagement ring or carry your grandfather’s pocket watch. The material is built to last, can be enjoyed and appreciated by multiple generations. There’s something powerful about that idea, that there can be so much meaning in such a tiny object. That it has the resilience to last several lifetimes. Even if the business doesn’t last 200 years, and people may have forget the name, there may still be a ring or a necklace passed down in the future that holds such meaning to the original wearer that it continues to live on.
There’s something incredibly romantic about that idea, and it inspires me to pursue working with master artisans to create pieces that can last the test of time.
Black Chalk – How would you define your personal style?
Michael Dobkin : Low-key. I wear a variation of jeans and a t-shirts every day. I hate feeling overdressed. I’d much prefer a casual environment or setting, much like a 90’s Calvin Klein ad.
That’s a big reason I love jewelry so much. You can be incredibly casual in your dress and instantly elevate yourself with gold or diamonds. Personally I wear diamond studs and some variation of a diamond stacking ring every day. I look at my collection as ‘everyday diamonds’. Effortless enough for every day, and elegant enough for always. It all comes down to styling and attitude.
Black Chalk – How would you define the style your line exemplifies?
Michael Dobkin : Simple, modern, pragmatic with echoes of poetry.
Black Chalk : What are some of your fashion goals?
Michael Dobkin : To continue developing collections that my clients find meaningful and inspiring. The recognition from the fashion community, of course, would be great and I hope that they are accepting of me as a serious designer, but my clients will always come first. They’re the ones that believe in my vision and as a designer I hope to live up to those standards and expectations so that they have come to expect from my line.
Black Chalk : Where do you get your inspiration?
Michael Dobkin : It’s usually a translation of an emotional reaction to what’s going on around me. Maybe I read a book, or visited a new place that is rich in history. It really depends on my mood and the atmosphere of the world around me.
This is my first collection and I wanted to target women in my age group that were just starting to build their fine jewelry wardrobe. That inspired my use of clean minimal lines in a lot of the pieces that were accented with smaller diamonds. It was a nod at what’s to come for the wearer as she continues to grow and develops her own personal style over time.
Another inspiration for this line came in the form of my dew drop capsule engagement collection. I wanted to find a way to manifest the idea of waking up in a garden on an early summer morning – your gold jewelry is covered in dew that turned out to be diamonds. My aim was to keep the silhouettes of these pieces simple and modern enough to sit nicely with the rest of the collection.
It almost makes me laugh having to describe this, because it’s such an internal emotional process for me. It’s where I’m always finding myself fighting with myself – on one hand I am extremely pragmatic, yet as a designer I lead with my heart, full of ideas and inspirations. All waiting for their own time in the sun, so to speak. I normally don’t share how I’m feeling with anyone, but if you look at my creations, there’s a small window into what’s going on inside my soul. An eternal hopeful romantic wanting to share his visions with the world.