We were admittedly besotted the second we entered the light-drenched Red Hook, Brooklyn workshop of designer Jason Ross. The tinkering sounds of metal and brass; the aroma of aged leather; walls adorned with bits, bolts and tools… now this was the home of a bonafide craftsman. We came to learn that Jason, who recently created a line of accessories available at ABC Carpet & Home, is certainly that.
Jason’s accessories – handbags, belts, jewelry – are all handcrafted, rendered from hand cut leather embellished with antiqued metal hardware. Whether a delicate pendant necklace or an own-forever portfolio, the aesthetic is consistent: elegant, simple, rustic, seemingly one-of-a-kind. Jason cites archaeology and history as major influences, and this shines through in his designs: they truly look like modern-day relics.
bags & portfolio cases
1. small leather satchel bag 2.leather checkbook wallet 3. leather cell phone bag 4.leather brief/portfolio – black 5.thick molded leather ipad case 6. small nomadic tribesman pouch – brown 7. leather brief/portfolio – brown 8. leather portfolio
jewelry & belts
1.54″ leather belt with brass ring 2.two strap choker necklace 3. hand cut leather split strap belt – brown 4.aluminum long bead necklace 5. small nomadic tribesman pouch – black 6. leather wrap bracelet with vintage key 7.necklace with antique pendant 8. hand cut leather split strap belt – black 9. leather keychain brass ring 10. small circle pendant 11. long wrap bracelet with antique belt buckle
“With my work I want it to look like it was ancient and found,” he comments. Yet as ‘excavated’ as they may appear (even the iPad case looks like it could have been created years ago), there is clear intention behind everything Jason produces. He explains, “There is nothing accidental about what I do.”
We can corroborate this. He is astonishingly meticulous, hand-recording detailed descriptions of the start-to-finish creation process for each and every item that he produces. To (literally) illustrate this point, he unearthed one of his leather-bound workbooks to show us these step-by-step specifications. “Something might look like this very simple thing but the reality is there are many steps to create it,” he tells us. “If you do anything differently, it just doesn’t come out right.” Looking at a page from Jason’s book is a hugely refreshing: this is incredibly thoughtful, from-the-soul craftsmanship.
Hence, each piece is truly a Jason Ross original. To do so, he keeps his production incredibly tight, largely because of the sheer labor-intensive nature involved to create his accessories. He smiles, “You can see how particular I am, and its even sometimes hard for me to articulate to the jewelers I work with what exactly it is I want. I think if I were to have other people making my work, it probably couldn’t and wouldn’t have the 40 steps I need to have it be mine. I couldn’t ever give up that control.”
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t open to new collaboration and inspiration. For his line with ABC Home, Jason met with the creative team to better understand what exactly they were interested in. Interestingly, much of the work the ABC team found most compelling were the accessories that Jason had handcrafted for his girlfriend – and muse – Natasha. He remembers, “What I really liked about having Kelly, Li, and Amy [members of ABC creative team] over here is a lot of things they were attracted to were things that I’d only made for Natasha: like the leather portfolio case or the long rolled bead Moroccan bead necklace. It’s nice they went to things that I wouldn’t have even thought to show them.”
Resultantly, “They challenged me to go delicate for them – which was really hard.” Why? “I like the sound of thick leather, and while I’m not an equestrian myself, I like the real heavy bridle leather. So my sensibility is more for some weight to the leather.” Nonetheless, Jason wholly embraced the task, eventually enjoying the new creative direction. “I’m happy with how it turned out. I’d like to continue do more delicate; it was a great challenge.”
While on the subject of ABC Jason comments, “Well, its kind of a magical place – if you’re an aesthete its like Disneyland.” He continues, “I feel like I’m among friends when I look around at the design and everything that I see; from antiquities that they collect to others in the store who are working antique materials.” He laughs, “I do feel like I’m in ‘safe place’ there: my eyes won’t get hurt if I look to the left or the right.”
Jason Ross is certainly doing his part to keep it this way. Shop his entire line on abchome.com or by visiting the store.
-Reveal, photos by Chris New