From her jewelry designs to her lighting, it’s clear that Alecia Wesner loves her bling. Raised in Philadelphia and schooled in Syracuse, she caught the creative bug early and hasn’t stopped since. She got her start working with lighting design great George Kovacs before venturing into metalworking and jewelry design. She still designs both jewelry and lighting to this day and has come to the realization that they are actually more closely related than one might think. We recently spoke with Alecia to find out more about her background, her relationship with Kovacs and what inspires her in her designs.
Tell us a little bit about your background. What kinds of things did you design in your youth?
I was a creative kid, always making something. I would go from designing and making my Barbie’s clothing to creating elaborate LEGO towns. I absolutely LOVED my art classes and was always taking a class somewhere to learn something new.
My parents were incredibly supportive, but it was Uncle Joe (a sculptor) who really paved the way for me to pursue architecture in college and later, industrial design. When I was in college, Joe would fly me to Detroit (where he was the head of the Sculpture Department at CCS) to see gallery openings of his work. I attended one of his classes and I was in awe. His students had such respect and adoration for him.
When I look back on my formal training, I realize how fortunate it was to take classes outside my majors. Classes that helped diversify not only my portfolio, but challenged my own frame of reference. I took every Modern Architectural Design History class offered. Later I took classes in plastic techniques in sculpture and then interior lighting and furniture design and fabrication. Had I known my path would eventually lead to a career in lighting design, I don’t think I could have chosen a better foundation.
It seems like you’ve been attracted to jewelry and metalworking since you were very young. Why is that?
I grew-up in a traditional, suburban household where modern furnishings or architecture were usually viewed as odd but interesting. With that in mind, my mom was involved in fashion and frequently wore modern jewelry. She still has a Georg Jensen bracelet from her childhood that is simply drool-worthy.
Some of my fondest memories are last-minute Christmas jewelry shopping with my Dad on Philadelphia’s Jewelers Row. According to my Dad, I would ask to try on the gaudiest and biggest baubles in the store. Even as a little girl, I just wanted to be bedazzled, I guess.
There is something about the design of jewelry and personal adornment that intrigues me. I guess it’s the concept of one’s person being a canvas. My current jewelry collection has many linear pieces that are studies in shape but also exposure. Skin framed by the jewelry. Skin seen through the jewelry. In that aspect, the jewelry and lighting are quite similar. The balance of contrasts. Light and shadow.
What inspires you most in your jewelry and lighting designs?
Everything. Seriously, everything. The way a Manhattan skyscraper changes as twilight approaches and windows illuminate and darken. A twig found in my parent’s backyard. Watching the cycles of product trends. Pop culture. Technology. The design process is always an adventure.
Tell us a little bit about your relationship with George Kovacs.
I was fortunate enough to start my career working for a man who loved modern design and kept a phenomenal collection of international lighting catalogs in a very dingy closet. My first week working for George I looked at catalogs all day long, making notes, and then discussing my findings with George, what designs I liked and why. It became a large part of our routine working together. Constantly bringing one another design images as a springboard for endless discussions.
I didn’t even come close to grasping what a rare situation I was in and what a vast design education I was absorbing by having George as my boss/mentor. Now, so many years later, and much further into my career, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t consider myself lucky to have partnered with The Minka Group and to have been part of the proliferation of the Kovacs design vision.
What’s your favorite lighting collection that you’ve designed for George Kovacs?
This is such a tough question as the personal element in my work influences me tremendously. George was still alive when the first Bling Bling lamp was introduced. He pushed that table lamp like it was a first born child. The style seemed so different at the time and George was on a mission to sell it. Once the lamp arrived in the field, its sales far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Over the years its success enabled the collection to be expanded and now includes my newest collection, Bling Bang (coming soon to Lumens.com). The whole group touches a spot in my heart.
Alecia’s Necklace is based on my jewelry designs and I couldn’t have been more excited when the first two pieces in the collection came to fruition. The bracelet the collection is based on I wear almost daily. It’s an awesome moment to stand in a showroom wearing jewelry you created with your own hands and explain to someone that yes, the patterns on my jewelry does indeed match the lighting above me… because I designed them both.
Spoiler alert! What new designs can we expect to see from Alecia Wesner in the future?
I’d like an answer to this question as well!
For the lighting, I hope to work more with LEDs. Witnessing all the technological changes in lighting is so exciting. It’s impossible not to be inspired as LEDs become increasingly mainstream.
For the jewelry, some of the current collections are expanding. I’m sure I could keep refining the same concepts for the rest of my life, but my current focus is experimenting with new materials.
As for designs outside of lighting and jewelry… keep your fingers crossed!