All BluesHonest, modest, composed
Our task is to create jewellery that can incite thought and trigger emotion. For us, making someone laugh, cry, or think is much more rewarding than making them feel pretty. Sure, aesthetics play a big role in what we do, but the ideas, the feelings – they must come first.
Positioned on an unassuming side street in the Northern part of Vasastan, in Stockholm, is a large metal door. There’s a discreet sign on it: All Blues. Behind the door and down a curved, low-slung staircase, Fredrik Nathorst and Jacob Skragge – cofounders of Swedish jewellery brand, All Blues – are huddled over a table, examining a new piece from their collection.
Upon first encounter, it’s evident that Nathorst and Skragge are both embodiments of their brand: Honest, modest, composed. They started All Blues with a desire to create something of their own vision, executed in their own way. A third generation goldsmith, based just outside of Stockholm, handcrafts pieces for All Blues using only local and ethically sourced materials. These wearable objet d’art for men and women alike finds its raison d’être through a quiet but powerful expression of emotion rooted in their refined, modern collection.
Cereal: Could you tell us how All Blues started? You both jumped head first into creating the brand without any past experience in the field. Did you have any preconceived notions about how it would work?
Jacob Skragge (JS): Fredrik and I first met in high school through my brother, who’s a year younger than me. Him and Fredrik were in the same year. We were basically the same person, Fredrik and I. Rookies at best, without any proper work experience, higher education or money, without any contacts who could give us a way in to the industry. We were just out there doing our thing, and discovered through conversation that we shared a very similar way of seeing and processing the world, whether it was in regards to music, art, or fashion. Ending up in the world of jewellery was more a happy coincidence than a vision we had from the onset. The seeds were planted for our business with a slightly naïve idea of doing something on our own. I was in New York after finishing high school in 2010, and to this day, have a clear recollection of seeing a guy in the city wearing a coloured cotton bracelet. And I started to wonder why there wasn’t any men’s jewellery that appealed to me. I scoured for some online, but couldn’t find a single brand that I liked at the time. That’s how All Blues began.
Fredrik Nathorst (FN): We made our first bracelets in my mother’s kitchen in the evenings, after we got off from our day jobs. It was a hobby project more than anything else for awhile, during which we were figuring things out and making more mistakes than we could count. But it eventually moulded All Blues into what it is today. I began art school in Stockholm, studying and working within art and design, while Jacob started business school just around the corner from me. A few years later, during our final year at university, All Blues made the slow transition into a real business. Around that time, Jonny Johansson – the founder and creative director of Acne Studios – reached out to us. He’d seen our silver bracelets and was also interested in men’s jewellery. That meeting led to a collaboration with Acne, which is now three years ago. While that was happening, we also started to feel a bit constrained by only doing men’s pieces and wanted branch out to the women’s side to unearth new ways of expression within the All Blues universe, prompting us to launch the women’s collection in the spring of 2016.
JS: That’s how it started, really. Today, my younger brother Adam – the reason that Fredrik and I met – works with us at All Blues.
Cereal: One of the earlier projects you worked on is the Marianne collection, a number of earrings dedicated to Jacob’s grandmother. Is All Blues, in some regards, aesthetically informed by your connection to her?
JS: What we made for my grandmother Marianne, after she passed away, is the epitome of All Blues in my opinion. It’s about being heartfelt and honest with the stories behind what we make. I inherited a necklace from her that she always wore, comprising 37 asymmetric amber stones that were strung on a black cotton thread. She told our family that she didn’t want her belongings to end up in a box, collecting dust, nor did she want to be buried in the ground; instead, she wished for her ashes to be scattered outside our family summer home on Gotland, in the Baltic Sea. In order to do something sincere and meaningful with her necklace, I told Fredrik about it, then we discussed the idea of turning it into earrings. We took apart the necklace to be left with a group of single stones, which Fredrik used to create 37 incredibly beautiful earrings, one for each stone. All 37 sold out before we got around to officially launching them, thanks to an article in The New York Times. I didn’t even have a chance to tell my mother about the earrings or the article. When she found out, she was deeply moved. She cried. To know that the earrings were spread across the world, from Cape Town and Perth to Paris and San Francisco, brought her and us a lot of joy. This was precisely my grandmother’s wish. We received long, personal emails from those who’d read about the earrings and now owned them, telling us that they would pass it down through generations. The Marianne earrings instilled in us a yearning to not only make a new product, but to actually craft pieces with authenticity and meaning, allowing soulful jewellery to come into being.
Cereal: With that approach to creation in mind, one could say that your pieces represent a particular feeling that you’re drawn to at a given time, rather than the aesthetics of a particular season.
JS: We’ve never found significance in creating products, or discontinuing them, just for the sake of following “the season”. Creating something that isn’t meant for perpetuity is not for us. Working with the seasonal calendar of the fashion industry prompted us to figure out a way of existing within that framework, but in our own way. We strive to introduce new ideas during Paris Fashion Week, as it eases our way of going about All Blues, but we’d never do something new because there’s some forced sentiment that we have to. We do smaller collections, each with their own theme, and then single designs alongside them. We see it akin to building a house: Starting with the foundation, followed by planting some red flowers in the garden, then maybe buying a nice linen sofa. Adding elements when it feels right.
Cereal: Is there a particular type woman or style that you have in mind when designing?
FN: It’s not as much about style, as it is about values. There is indeed a certain type of woman in the back of our minds when working on new ideas; the type that has a true interest in, and a willingness to take care of objects, stories, and people. Therefore, our task is to create jewellery that can incite thought and trigger emotion. For us, making someone laugh, cry, or think is much more rewarding than making them feel pretty. Sure, aesthetics play a big role in what we do, but the ideas, the feelings – they must come first.
Cereal: There’s a contemporary elegance to your pieces. Can jewellery be both of the moment and long lasting?
FN: We hope so. It’s something that we strive for in every thing we do and every decision we make. Creating something that’s contemporary can be easy, as is creating something that’s classic and timeless. But the intersection of the two, creating something that is appropriate to the now, yet will maintain its relevance for years to come – this is where things get more interesting and challenging. I guess we’ll have to wait and find out if we’ve passed this test!