Mateo Jewelry Designer New York Lifestyle Matthew Harris

Grandlife interviews

The Art of Living

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Whether it stems from the intimacy and finesse of their work, a unique upbringing or their endless travel itineraries, New York’s jewelry designers seem to exude laser-sharp instincts when it comes to excellent taste. They are at the cutting edge of style, which extends beyond their collections and into a sensibility—a sense of fashion, a love of travel, a knack for assembling objects. They may be an alchemist, a scientist, a historian and an archeologist all in a single moment. However varied their backgrounds, methods, materials, and designs are, they are all au courant, ceaselessly on the hunt for inspiration, refining every aspect of their world with beauty. We tapped two of our favorite designers—Matthew Harris and Eva Zuckerman—whose New York showrooms and boutiques are buzzing sources of all kinds of flair, for an inside look at how they create, decorate, shop, party, eat and drink.

The Art of Living

Matthew Harris, Mateo

Harris was born in Montego Bay, the son of a seamstress. At the age of 16, he left to attend school in the United States. He earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and moved to New York City where he began making men’s jewelry in 2009, and then women’s fine jewelry in 2014. Simplicity and minimalism are at the forefront of this self-taught designer’s work. He currently resides between New York and Los Angeles with a showroom located at 52 Elizabeth Street.

On making a collection…

“Most of my inspiration comes from modern and contemporary art–but also the desire to create great personal jewelry, which today’s modern woman can wear daily and not keep hidden in a jewelry box for special occasions. The most interesting part of creating a new collection is the storytelling. My latest collection is inspired by Alexander Calder and Xavier Veilhan—artists whose work I truly adore; from different eras, but I love the similarities and beauty in their work.”

On gathering materials…

“I mostly use 14kt and 18kt gold, along with cultured freshwater pearls, precious and semi-precious stones and diamonds. The material is honestly the last thing that comes to mind in my design process. Of course, it’s important but I often think about the art first and how wearable it will be on a woman—the material then comes to mind. How can we make this even more beautiful in precious metal and gemstones…

On intimate spaces…

“My personal spaces are truly a reflection of my work. They are simple with minimalistic touches but comfortable. My apartment is like my meditation temple and must always feel like that. I just moved back to the US, so I’m currently in the process of decorating my flat in LA. One of my favorite objects in the flat is a mobile from Volta Paris and a piece of art from Shikeith Cathey. I travel a bit so I tend to pick up trinkets from all over as they are personal and have meaning or remind me of a beautiful time.”

On shopping for the home…

“As cliché as it is, I love the MoMA store in SoHo. I never leave empty-handed.” 

On decorating…

“Ensure that everything is aesthetically and visually stimulating!”

On dining in style…

“I love Jean-Georges by Central Park West. The French always seem to get it right. The soft white and soothing pallet to the overall atmosphere of the restaurant is superb. I also really love Sant Ambroeus, it’s straight to the point but slightly elevated and they are like family now.”

On seeing art…

“I love the Cooper Hewitt and the Whitney. They always hit the right notes for me.”

On doing something unexpected…

“My favorite place to do something unexpected is Brooklyn, as you never know if you are going to end up at a rave or a chic under-the-radar party or just a little whole-in-the-wall where the food is delish! I love that.” 

The Art of Living

Eva Zuckerman, Eva Fehren

Eva Zuckerman is a true New Yorker. She was born in the West Village, and like many downtown kids, was raised in large part by the city itself. She attended The Cooper Union School and graduated with a bachelor of arts with a concentration in painting. Much of her inspiration today comes from the city’s geometric architecture. She works from her showroom, which takes appointments, at 37 West 28th Street.

On creating a collection…

“I was born and raised in NYC, and I have always been inspired by the grittiness and toughness of the city contrasted by its glamour and beauty. I am incredibly inspired by the architecture, as well as urban patterns found across the city: the crisscrossing of scaffolding or delicate patterns in the ironwork on New York’s historic buildings. My inspiration is drawn from many other places, including art, furniture, and architecture. My favorite painter is de Kooning, and I love Charles Eames, Paulo Piva, Mies Van der Rohe, Louise Nevelson, Robert Motherwell, and Rick Owens, of course. I never really look at the work of other jewelry designers but draw my design influences from other creative fields. I design really intuitively, and oftentimes new concepts will come to me when I am not trying to so hard to imagine what’s next. I think this is why I often conceive of new ideas when I’m drawing. My other favorite part of creating a new collection is sourcing stones. There is nothing more exhilarating than the rush of seeing a stone that inspires me and I feel very connected to!”

On the studio…

“I would say my studio is monochromatic, minimal, and graphic with a lot of high contrasting black and white. I love layering in texture with my paintings, and it has been so inspiring creating special pieces of furniture and textiles for our space. I have always wanted to work in a white, tranquil space with graphic, tough, minimal pieces in it. I want people to feel inspired, calm, and focused when they walk in—not only clients, but also my staff, and myself. I wanted it to feel stark without feeling cold, and I hope that it feels welcoming. I can’t think creatively in spaces with clutter, color, or generally too much going on. It’s not easy to slow things down and get people to focus on a detail that is one millimeter large, and I wanted to create an environment that helped lend itself to appreciating beautiful, tiny, precious details. I always say I live my life one-tenth of a millimeter at a time.” 

On the home…

“My home is still monochromatic and tonal but has a much softer, cozier feel. Soft white linen accented with linear black, geometric furniture, glass, and white marble. I am in love with the designer Paolo Piva and have his coffee table in both my home and my office. It is an object I can’t live without. I love pieces that feel light and graphic, and the delicate, geometric metal frame topped with glass feels like it is almost floating in the space. I also love Fernando Mastrangelo’s work and have his black and white pieces in both spaces. I think picking a unified palette has allowed me to play with and mix different genres of art, photography, and furniture in both spaces in a way that feels cohesive and serene.” 

On the neighborhoods…

“My studio is in the NoMad district of New York City, which feels supercharged and bustling. There is constant growth, activity, and construction, and my work is definitely influenced by my environment. My home is in the West Village, and it has a much calmer, ethereal feeling. I actually grew up in the townhouse that I am now living in, and living in this historical, beautiful part of the city makes me feel very connected to my roots.  New York has and always will be my main source of inspiration.” 

On design inspiration…

“My sister! Although we basically have the same taste, so perhaps it validates my choices and that’s why I love her style so much. We grew up in an old house in the West Village with lots of character. My parents filled our home with artifacts, artwork, and furniture from their many travels. It was incredibly beautiful, but when my sister, Nina, and I moved into our own apartments we kept things pared down and minimal—perhaps as a reaction to the eclectic home we grew up in. We have always thrived off of sharing design ideas with one another. As far as other designers go, I always look to Rick Owens’s interior design, and furniture. I love how he contrasts rich, luxurious materials with stark, deconstructed spaces.”

On shopping…

“ABC Carpet is my heaven. I love looking at their incredible objects and Rug Collections. It’s not all my style, but I love the incredible variety and artisanal furniture and objects they have. I also love Roman and Williams Guild, Matter, and The Line.”

On decorating advice…

“Less is more: don’t fill your space up, and give yourself room to breathe. There’s nothing I love more than a white wall. Too much stuff is a burden, even if it’s beautiful—unless we’re talking about jewelry, then you can never have too much.” 

On dining in style…

“I love the Grand Central Oyster Bar. It’s a true New York classic. Le CouCou in SoHo is also high on the list, as well as 1 or 8 in Williamsburg.”  

On viewing art…

“My absolute favorite museum in New York is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is my number one spot to go and think.” 

On doing something unexpected…

“My favorite thing to do in New York is to go on long walks and wander the streets. You will inevitably see something that surprises you. I always encounter something unexpected and think about things and people in a new way. That is the best thing about New York City.”

WORDS Jenny Hartman 

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