Book List of the Week

The Scientific, the Metaphysical, and the Spiritual: Lisa Jenks’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter May 1, 2012

Lisa Jenks

Jewelry designer Lisa Jenks: Lisa Jenks (New York)

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The work of jewelry designer Lisa Jenks is prized for its originality, drama, and tactility. She is known especially for being finely attuned to the materials she works with, particularly sterling silver, in a way that allows physical characteristics to communicate cultural allusions. Her aesthetic influences range from angular forms in urban architecture to glyphs on the Mayan pyramids in Uxmal.

“I love designing jewelry,” she says in her statement for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, of which she is a member. “It can be a timeless component of our culture. Visually the world for me breaks down into patterns, from the towering angular forms of Deco skyscrapers to the local train tracks and telephone lines near my home in New York. I see patterns everywhere I look. Surface decoration and shapes all evolve from my fascination with pattern.”

Riptide bracelet, sterling silver, by Lisa Jenks

While her bookcases are “a bit crowded,” Jenks admits to a not easily restrained interest in collecting art and design books, many of which provide inspiration that feeds into her work. On her book list for Designers & Books is Rediscovered Masterpieces of Mesoamerica—“the first art book I bought when I was in the midst of designing my initial collection. I’ve been hooked ever since.” She also includes volumes on Josef Hoffmann, Cartier, Art Nouveau and Art Deco bookbinding, Russian decorative arts in the teens, twenties, and thirties, and Françoise de Bonneville’s book on Jean Puiforcat (“one of my favorite designers”).

Ribbon Memento necklace, sterling silver on vintage ribbon, by Lisa Jenks

Among other books on Jenks’s list are Muriel Barbery’s gentle and philosophical The Elegance of the Hedgehog, from which Jenks quotes that “art is emotion without desire”; Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself (because in it “nothing seems impossible!”), and The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman (“I adore her artwork, but even more, her perspective on the world”).

Zigurrat earrings, sterling silver, peacock and gray freshwater pearls, by Lisa Jenks


On her current reading list are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (also on Gail Anderson’s book list), David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, and Joan Didion’s now classic collection of essays Slouching Towards Bethlehem. “Scientific, metaphysical, or spiritual” is how she describes the books that she is drawn to.


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