“I don’t think of myself as a designer. I think of myself as a builder—whether it’s food, metal, or fabric,” explains Shani Pak. Maybe that has something to do with her upbringing: Her father is a contractor, and her mother has always been up to something on the culinary front, whether that means going on hikes to forage the ingredients for herbal elixirs or making a batch of traditional Korean kimchi.
Hence, while working on a degree in industrial design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Shani “began to deviate from the curriculum, training myself, just pursuing what was interesting to me.” Which led her, in March 2014, to quit school and launch Metonym, her jewelry collection comprised of deceptively simple creations with insane attention to detail.
A self-proclaimed “materials fiend,” Shani it big into function: how things are put together and how they can be used as tools. Though one of her Metonym chokers features a big, bold safety pin closure, most of the time Shani’s utility-lovin’ philosophy is a little more conceptual when it comes to the pieces in her line: “Find your own use for them—and do with them what you will in terms of your personal style,” she says. “It’s fascinating to see how people sculpt themselves.” —carly pifer
BEHIND THE SCENES
A trash-to-treasure tale if there ever was one.
The Little Mermaid would be super-jealous.