You could say Copenhagen-based jewellery designer Charlotte Lynggaard’s career was always written in the stars. Her father, Ole Lynggaard, started their family-run company, Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen, in the 60s and is still heavily involved in the business today. Together, they have merged traditional craftsmanship with modern, timeless design to produce iconic Scandinavian jewellery favoured by our very own Mary Donaldson, Crown Princess of Denmark...
Charlotte’s effortless style and unmistakable femininity expand from her jewellery making prowess to her own personal take on dressing and interiors, so it’s no surprise to learn she favours local designers, quality over quantity and practicality when it comes to adding new pieces to her own wardrobe. “Some days I am in the mood for dungarees, and others I prefer a slim pencil skirt and a blouse. Unless I have something important to dress up for, I rarely distinguish between office wear and private wear. I am a big fan of the uncontrived styling. Adding an air of bohemian elegance makes a look of both jewellery and garments more welcoming.” We caught up with the mother of three to get more insight into how she approaches jewellery design, why she cherishes family time at home and how her definition of self-love is less about massages and more about nature. Go to www.olelynggaard.com
You followed in your father’s footsteps with jewellery design - was this career choice inevitable or did you have other plans and interests when you were younger?
Originally, I thought I would become a fashion designer. I didn’t really consider becoming a fine jewellery designer. Not because my father was one, he has always been a huge inspiration to me! For as long as I can remember, I have felt a need to express myself through creative activities – drawing, painting, designing and sewing. I just couldn’t decide what to focus on. After high school, I left for Paris to work in an advertising agency in order to learn more about branding and commercial marketing of high-end products. We also created luxury products on behalf of clients, and this holistic approach to a project became a life-changing experience for me. I was completely smitten with the combination of designing and grandiose staging of luxurious products. I realised that working at Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen would give me the opportunity to integrate all my areas of interest in one single job – designing, staging, branding. When I returned to Copenhagen, my father agreed to take me on as an apprentice. Our partnership has lasted thirty years so far, and it has been very rewarding to both of us!
Can you briefly talk us through the jewellery design process – how does it work from initial idea to design and conception?
My father and I sketch our initial ideas on paper. We both draw a lot. Once this 2D draft is done, we usually move on to creating a 3D model in jewellery wax to get all details and proportions right. The model department uses precious metals to develop the actual masterpiece – the prototype from which to craft every piece of a given collection. When the master is finished, and it lives up to what my father or I had envisioned, it is put in production. At our in-house advertising agency, we develop the commercial concept behind the marketing campaign, and this is also where all campaign visuals are conceived.
You’ve helped steer a family brand steeped in history to have a modern and feminine aesthetic today, what would you say your overall style and inspiration is?
I am incessantly inspired by nature – by the colours, textures, and organic shapes found in nature. My style is first and foremost versatile. I love to dress up and to experiment with different styles. Some days I am in the mood for dungarees, and others I prefer a slim pencil skirt and a blouse. Unless I have something important to dress up for, I rarely distinguish between office wear and private wear. I am a big fan of the uncontrived styling. Adding an air of bohemian elegance makes a look of both jewellery and garments more welcoming.
You have three older children, are they keen to join the family business, are they involved at all at the moment?
My youngest is still in high school, so we cannot say whether he will be interested in joining the business at some point. Both of my daughters and my brother’s two oldest daughters have worked in our flagship stores around the world – in Copenhagen, Sydney, and Paris, but they are still very young with all their options open to them. My eldest daughter is now very involved professionally. She actually represents the third generation of goldsmiths in our family as she started her training as a goldsmith’s apprentice this spring. She is being taught by the same master goldsmith who took me under his wings thirty years ago. What she chooses to do with her education is entirely up to her. Time will show if our designer duo turns into a trio…
“ My children are 22, 20, and 18 now, so the classic motherhood-career balance is not that big of a problem. They no longer cause the urgent, logistic responsibilities that interfere with a busy working life. When my children were young, I insisted on leaving to pick them up myself in the afternoon as often as possible ”
How do you balance career and motherhood - can you describe a typical working week?
My children are 22, 20, and 18 now, so the classic motherhood-career balance is not that big of a problem. They no longer cause the urgent, logistic responsibilities that interfere with a busy working life. When my children were young, I insisted on leaving to pick them up myself in the afternoon as often as possible. My husband and I work together (Michel Normann is brand CCO, ed.), and we have always been a strong parent team and have helped each other out a lot. Today, I still do have many other pressing matters in my life, but fortunately, my working week varies a lot. There is nothing typical about it, and I prefer it that way.
What stresses you out and how do you handle it?
Like most people, I can get stressed when confronted with too many responsibilities all at once. I am leading designer and creative director, and I must be as structured as possible. I feel a need to be involved in everything at our brand, and this can sometimes be a little challenging. I love to deal with everything from jewellery design to campaign shoots and SOME strategies to visual merchandising and sales strategies, but I do have to pay attention not to be completely overwhelmed. My head responds with an acute migraine if I overdo it, so I am getting better at trusting the professional talents of the team working with me.
What is your favourite thing to do together as a family?
Just to be together. Whether we travel the world or cook a meal together, I just love spending time with my husband and our three children. When your kids are young grown-ups leading their own lives, you savour the precious time you get to spend with them.
Scandinavian style is having such a huge impact on fashion and interiors at the moment, what are some of your favourite local brands and why?
I am always fond of high quality. I would rather have fewer pieces of a high quality piece than a vast amount of clothing that only lasts a season. I love dresses by Mark Kenly Domino Tan for their sleek, graphic lines and impeccable craftsmanship. Britt Sisseck is a genius shirt designer who masters the combination of a simple cut and exquisite details. New, high-end brand Carcel is based on an impressive, humanitarian idea: Their edgy knit-styles are designed in central Copenhagen, but created by women who serve time in South American prisons for poverty crimes.
What is your idea of self-love and how do you make time for it?
I am not very good at making time for massages or wellness in general. I do prioritise walking and jogging in the forest next to my home, but I guess I could do better. To me, a day of self-indulgence is a day spent at home all alone drawing and painting with watercolours. Also, I love to work in my garden. It has a meditative effect on me. I feel completely relaxed and focused on the job at hand when I do garden work.
What is the ultimate piece of life advice you want to pass on to your children now that they’re getting older?
Stay true to who you are. Know yourself. Be yourself in every context you find yourself. Be respectful of others, but stay true to your ideas. Also, I would always tell them to take chances. Believe in your ideas and go for them – and hold on to your vision. Don’t listen to critical voices – you might be ahead of your time. But expect hard times with good times. It takes a lot of hard work to make it…but the hard work is actually what makes it so much more rewarding to come out on the other side.