Pippa on Alex
The thing about working with a sister is that language becomes obsolete, because you can explain in half-sentences that only they understand. We share a complete worship of colour, so Alex picked out the furniture, fabrics and paints for my shops in London and LA, and has made these beautiful paintings from Indian pigments. The jewellery hangs on miniature bronze trees that Alex designed. Our website is full of her animated watercolours; I find it vulgar to imagine jewellery just being presented for sale on a white background. We have a shared aesthetic history and philosophy; she can see exactly what’s right. When Tom Ford asked me to create a more organic style of jewellery for Gucci, Alex did all the sketches. I had a clear vision, and gathered together all my inspirations – sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy, tribal pieces, antiques – and Alex would translate it on to paper.
I was painfully shy as a child; I bred bantam chickens and collected rocks. Self-expression had to come visually not verbally, so I began stringing together my grandmother’s old beads, buttons and stones with holes in them to make bracelets. It looked like a crustacean was growing up my arm. Alex and I lived together in Fulham when I came to London to study anthropology at Goldsmiths. We were indivisible and had wonderful adventures travelling in India, Turkey and Morocco. Alex was the organiser; I just followed. After university I got involved with indigenous tribes in Borneo, Thailand and India and began making jewellery inspired by local communities. I sold a few pieces to friends back in England and the business slowly grew from there. I think Alex and I have lived vicariously through the other – Alex was married with children and I was travelling and growing the business. But you have these beautiful moments where you catch up with each other, where you can just be yourself, and a sister will forgive and understand.