JCK Asks…Matthew Campbell Laurenza

M.C.L takes Manhattan with a new collection

Matthew Campbell Laurenza is barely into his late 30s (barely!) and he’s already racked up 16 years in the business. After college he began making bespoke gold jewelry for private clients; in 2005, he started crafting costume capsule collections for high-end retailers such as Henri Bendel. He debuted his M.C.L by Matthew Campbell Laurenza line in October 2007; since then, he’s brought his silver, multicolored sapphire, and brightly hued enamel designs to 36 markets around the world. (“I love color and sapphires offer me the ability to design in all shades of the rainbow,” he says. “Enamel just made sense with my distinct aesthetic.”) He describes his latest line, the Manhattan collection, as classic–meets–Art Deco. I used colored sapphires to create gradation of colors to mimic the sunrise or the sunset.” Read on for more about the designer’s colorful aesthetic.

Manhattan Collection pavé hinge bangle

Age: 36

Number of years in the biz: I opened M.C.L in 1998.

Number of employees you oversee: Internationally we employ 78 full-time employees.

Family and pets: I have two cats and an incredibly ­supportive family.

Describe your personal style: Eclectic in my living space and classic in my fashion sense. I love watches and while I do not wear jewelry, I love the design ­process and enjoy seeing it on others.

Manhattan sterling silver pavé earrings

First piece you ever designed: A sterling silver and copper centerpiece that I gave my mother in 1996

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: The piece I am working on. All the pieces are my babies but my current favorite is the one I am working on.

Best piece of advice you ever received: “Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to design—do your own thing. In today’s global market there are customers for everything.”

Manhattan bangle with black spinel and sapphire

Worst piece of advice: I was told early on that I should develop a different style because this one was too unique.

First job ever: I made wooden Santa Clauses and fish decoys for Shakertown at Pleasant Hill in Kentucky. I started selling to them at age 13.

How did you get started designing jewelry? I studied sculpture and it was a logical expansion on principles I learned from the art. I now make mini-sculptures in the form of wearable art.

The Hublot Big Bang: Laurenza’s favorite watch

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Working for myself. Most likely designing housewares.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: I love watches.

Items on your desk right now: Lots of paper, colored pencils and markers, odds and ends of designs in progress

Songs on your playlist: “Fade Into You,” Nashville; “Let Her Go,” Passenger; “The Monster,” Eminem with Rihanna; “I See Fire,” Ed Sheeran; a bunch of songs by Coldplay and Adam Levine. Also “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

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Pharrell Williams

What did you have for breakfast? It depends on my travels. It can range from Asian foods to eggs and bacon. Never cereal and never too sweet.

Guilty pleasure: Buying art and antiques. They always get me in trouble.

Drink (daytime/evening): Tea and coffee in the ­daytime and red wines or bourbon at night.

First website you check every day (not your own!): I am not a tech person and try to avoid computers at all costs. I am a traditional paper-and-pencil guy.

Scent: Dior Leather Oud

How do you unwind? Design. It brings me a lot of pleasure.

Favorite place to travel for business? Paris or ­Istanbul—both cities of constant inspiration.

Favorite place to travel for pleasure? Paris and ­Istanbul. They offer not only inspiration but great museums and food.

Superstitious? I can be. I read the Chinese Zodiac for the year as oftentimes it is correct.

Book you’re reading: I love art-picture books. I have hundreds of them.

Preferred news source: Flipboard. It’s perfect for when I only have a few minutes to catch up.

Favorite movie: Auntie Mame

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Main means of transportation: Walking. It is the best means of really getting to know a city—things fly by too fast when you are in a car.