With one look at Mish Tworkowski’s vibrant brooches and bracelets, it’s no surprise that the jewelry designer doesn’t own a single article of black clothing. “I always have a difficult time when people ask me, “What’s my favorite color? Or what’s my favorite stone?’ ” says Tworkowski. “I could fall in love with a new color every day!” While the jewelry designer has become internationally known for his stunning pieces, it’s his own bold and irreverent style that keeps him at the forefront of all aspects of design— fashion, interiors, art and beyond. Tworkowski sat down with Luxe to talk color, nature (he’s a trustee of the New York Botanical Garden), craftsmanship and, of course, good design.
In a past life, who was Mish Tworkowski? A million years ago, I’m sure I was a hunter-gatherer based upon my love for the natural world coupled with traveling. Going someplace new is what I love—walking on the beach, through a botanical garden, in the woods or even walking down a city street. I also have a lifelong passion for gardening. Nothing can compete with nature, because it’s a nonstop bonanza of beauty—full of ideas and inspiration.
Speaking of nature, you and your partner have a country house in Millbrook, New York. How do those surroundings factor into your work? If you take time to look at the simple things and study them, you realize there is art all around us. For example, we had this freak snowstorm and it caused a lot of damage. Trees were down; there was debris everywhere. Yet there was a silver lining: As I was looking at the scattered pieces of bark, I noticed their beautiful textures and patterns.
There’s something daring yet romantic about the use of color in your pieces. I’m not afraid of color. I could stand in front of a Rothko for hours and look at two colors next to each other and think about how they work with each other, or wander through a garden and study how two flowers look next to each other. I believe color is a great gift to design.
How does jewelry elevate a look? Often, jewelry is the first thing people see; the first thing you notice on a woman is earrings. In a way, jewelry transcends fashion. People who buy fine jewelry are often thinking it’s forever. It’s almost like they’re little sculptures or amulets of significance that you carry. When jewelry is done well, it has a universality to it.
Who inspires you? I have great admiration for the craftsmen of the 19th and early-20th centuries. Like Fabergé, which was doing excellent work during that time period. Also, the craftsmanship of early Cartier and Van Cleef was beautiful.
Give us your design playbook. In order to have good design you need to have great thought. We’re all sponges—the more we absorb, the better we create. A designer needs to walk through a museum because art is so instrumental in creating what you love and wanting to perfect it in yourself. And because we’re not born with perfect skills, we’re tasked with taking our talent and what we love to do and creating the best we can.