Inspired By Nature: Interview With Boom, Jewelry Designer Of Metal Studio
The first time I went into Metal Studio I found a ring with a large purple crystal that I absolutely loved. I kept saying I was going to go back and get it until Eric surprised me with it on my birthday in January. Even then, I kept wanting to go back for more, and I knew I wanted to meet the designer. Sirilak Samanasak aka Boom is a bright, energetic woman clearly excited to come to work every day. She met me in her store in Chiang Mai’s artsy neighborhood of Nimman and happily brought us up to the second floor where all her beautiful pieces are made.
She apologized for the mess of stones, chains, beads and metal spread out over a broad work table. “We are preparing for a gem show in Bangkok,” she explained. I wouldn’t have expected the creative space of such an artist to look any different. Sketches of new projects and custom orders were taped to the white walls, tools placed orderly on a wooden bench in the corner and small piles of almost-completed rings sat in a velvet tray.
“Come back when it’s cleaner, I don’t always work like this” (her husband disagrees). Even though the surface of the workspace is all but covered in jewelry, it is laid out with care in some deliberate order only Boom can understand. “Even the maid, I tell her not to touch it or I won’t be able to find anything.”
Boom studied painting and sculpture at university while working part time in sales. She spent more and more time with the silversmiths and metal workers at the company and learned what she could from them. After graduation, she worked as a buyer for gemstone wholesalers in London and Scotland, but soon decided she wanted to create. Boom and her husband worked hard, spent years apart and eventually saved up enough money to open the shop.
Metal Studio has been at its current location for just six months, but has been in the neighborhood for about four years. During that time, Boom says, Nimman has changed incredibly. Where there were only trees in her childhood, condos and boutique hotels have sprung up constantly.
Her showroom is like a quiet, soothing respite from the busy street outside. Boom says it has “happy energy” and I have to agree. The simple shelves are lined with her handcrafted pieces, each one completely unique. Small metal sculptures crafted by her friends from art school hold her business cards and some of the jewelry. There is even a sculpted pair of feet at the base of the table, adding a little funk to the monochrome space.
Boom mostly works with silver, gold and stones that she hand picks. While some people will find something they like and buy it in bulk, Boom sifts through bins of stones to individually select ones that inspire her. She has traveled to Jaipur for many of them, where shop owners locked her inside, hunched over piles of opals, while they took breaks to pray or eat lunch. “They would come back an hour later and I would still be picking stones. I look at each one and think ‘what would be possible?’”
When asked about her favorite pieces, Boom immediately picked up a moonstone ring and points out the swirling colors. “I’m sorry I can’t stop talking about how much I love the stones. For me every one is special.” Some so special, in fact, that she can’t bring herself to make jewelry out of them. Boom jokes she has a collection of stones she doesn’t want to part with that rivals her shop inventory.
The shape and textures of the stones are a big part Boom’s inspiration. She crafts pieces that maintain the natural shapes resulting in some asymmetrical designs. “I love to keep the natural look.” She points out that many of her rings and pendants have a dimpled effect, which she says is to look like bamboo. “Basically, it’s all about texture.”
Booms eyes light up when she talks about her work, and it was a pleasure to watch her pick up pieces and hear why she liked each one. Each ring, bracelet or necklace is a result of her passion and inspiration from natural forms and textures. Boom and her husband live an hour outside of town, and when they stay home on the weekends, she will often last only half a day before saying “Let’s go into town, I miss my studio.”
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28/2 Nimanhemin Soi 11, Chiang Mai
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.