JCK Rock Star Spotlight: Michael Bruder

Michael Bruder of Corrupt Design may have learned about
reality television a bit too late in his JCK Rock Star career; he
watched his first episode after
his own premiered.

“I never watch reality shows, so I guess there was a little
bit of shock to hear Leila [Tai Shenkin, the FIT advisor for Rock Star]
call me ‘headstrong,’” he tells JCK a
week after JCK Rock Star episode 3—in which Bruder is the star—debuted. “I used every
single suggestion she made!”

Once the initial shock of the episode—featuring two confident
jewelry designers with very different aesthetics (Bruder’s bold, Shenkin’s demure), discussing the finer points of an idea—wore off, Bruder took a crash course
in reality TV. He watched several episodes of One Man Army, The Millionaire Matchmaker, Rocco’s Dinner Party, and about 10
minutes of one of the Real Housewives shows. “I couldn’t get
through more,” he says in a pained voice.

Earrings from Corrupt Designs' Michael Bruder

One of Michael Bruders’ signature Corrupt Design styles

To each his own, I suppose (says the editor who kind of digs The Real Housewives of Orange County). But for sure, Bruder learned more from the
challenge than to avoid episodes of Jersey Shore; he also learned that there are lot of creative people
in the industry, and that in design, “there’s no right way to do it,” he explains.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. When it
comes to taste, subjectivity rules; the “right” answer—in jewelry design,
apartments, or magazine layouts—is dictated by whoever is paying the bill.

For fans of Corrupt Design’s jewelry, its
over-the-top silhouettes and styling create the “right” look. Meanwhile,
for collectors of Shenkin’s plique-à-jour
enamel with abundant floral motifs, Art Nouveau femininity is the look of

earrings from Leila Tai Shenkin Design

Leila Tai Shenkin’s pieces feature plique-à-jour
enamel and floral motifs.

Bruder maintains that he did scale back some of his overtly
masculine signature styling in the JCK Rock Star challenge in favor some of Shenkin’s lighter
touch. “Normally, I do a modern take on mixing Art Nouveau and Art Deco
periods,” he says. “But for this piece I focused more on girlier, much more
feminine geometric Art Deco shapes to match those of the Swarovski

Another departure: He abandoned his usual monochromatic schemes—“I was going to do an ‘ice’-type of look in blue and white,” he
says—in favor of something more colorful. “I was inspired by all the colors we had to work with,
so I thought it would be a shame not to use them,” he says. Which ones? Deep
red, light blue, green, orange—pretty much the range of offerings. The final
design was a necklace, and, one that pleased the artist. “I thought it was pretty,”
he says. (Look closely at the video to see the sketches, and to hear Shenkin call
it “cool.”) He also used a number of round and pear-shape stones, in addition
to the mandatory number of tapered baguettes and trillion cuts—perhaps the only
stipulation given in the Swarovski-sponsored competition.

“In Iron Chef,
there’s a beginning, middle, and an end dish,” he explains about that reality show’s challenge to contestants to use the same ingredient in three distinct courses.
“In cooking, you always use the same tools to get to a particular end. In
jewelry, people create differently—some sketch by hand first, some mold in
metal or wax right away, and some design in CAD. In this competition, the guidelines
didn’t necessarily give me a new path.”

The new friends he acquired during the competition, however,
will likely have the most staying power moving forward.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Walt’s episode,” he says, referring to fellow JCK Rock Star contender Walter Adler Chefitz.

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