If in 2008 you told Laura Lombardi, then a newly-minted Chicagoan, that a successful jewelry line was on the horizon, she probably would’ve laughed in your face. Even with a year’s experience in the craft under her belt, the plan was always to pursue fine art. “I started studying illustration at FIT and SVA when I was 13, and in college, I was doing all this drawing and sculpture,” the native New Yorker remembers. For undergrad, she moved up to Boston, where she landed a job working for a group of jewelry stores—and, surrounded by all the chains and crystals, started to incorporate those elements into her sculptures. That work became a gateway drug of sorts, and the art student soon turned to making jewelry full-time. But not until her subsequent move to Chicago did Laura decide to establish her namesake line of classically inspired vintage metal accessories.
And that visual arts training? It plays an important role in shaping her aesthetic. “I like to make things that are eye-catching and interesting, but at the same time, I don’t want them to be fussy,” the designer explains. “I was really into repetitive imagery—making big mandalas—and sculptural wall pieces that echoed things growing out of the ground, and I try to do that with the jewelry also. The way I see things is still the same.” The other inspiration comes from her Italian roots. Although she has plenty of love for the Windy City, Laura holds citizenship in Italy. “My dad’s side of the family is from there, and I grew up speaking the language,” she explains. “That side of me is very drawn to the classical aesthetic and dark aspect to Italian culture, and I’m very influenced by it.” —jiayi ying
Behind The Scenes
Laura Lombardi’s Historic, Insider-y Guide to Pisa Lookin’ beyond those leaning towers.“I hate good food and beautiful places,” said no one ever. In other words, you’re going to L-O-V-E the Pisa tour that jewelry designer Laura Lombardi is about to give you. “I grew up between New York and Italy, and spent a lot of time in Pisa,” says Laura, who still has some famiglia living in the Tuscan city. “What’s unique about Italy is that I can go to the same pastry shop or restaurant as my grandmother did. You feel a different connection.” Here, five... READ MORE »
Laura Lombardi's Seven Most Trusted Chicago Spots This transplant knows the coolest stuff happening in her locale.Although Laura Lombardi hails from New York, she traded in the apple for some wind in 2008—a move motivated by a desire to continue art school in Chicago, but that instead led to the creation of her eponymous line of vintage-fueled metal jewelry in 2009. These days, Laura makes all of her designs by hand from her west-of-downtown studio—which is right across the hall from fellow Of a Kind alum Sarah Fox of Cursive Design. Here, t... READ MORE »
How Laura Lombardi Makes Super-Special Rock-Inspired Earrings She shows us how to mimic nature—with her bare hands.Laura working the rawhide hammer and pick.When it came to creating these earrings—her first Of a Kind edition—Laura Lombardi brought together the driving forces behind her two most recent collections. “Spring is really focused on simulating shapes, textures, and sound in nature without actually using natural materials,” the Chicago designer explains. “And for fall, I wanted to explore mineral and sediment deposits.” The result? These layere... READ MORE »