Su Beningfield

Su’s jewelry is unmistakably sculptural, reflecting her years of practice as a design architect and her fascination with natural lines and sensual forms.  Her South African upbringing imbued in her a love of nature and a clear preference for creating bold and elegant design work.

Her enterprising spirit has taken her from study and practice in Johannesburg and Paris, to post-professional architectural training at Princeton University in 2001, and finally to Los Angeles in 2003. In the City of Angels, Su designed directly for the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry for most of her five years in his practice.

Although Su discovered her first affinity for working with precious metals during her studies in the 90’s, it was as an architect in LA that she was exposed to the new technologies of manufacture offered by computer modeling and 3D printing. She saw an opportunity to innovate in the field of jewelry design – exploring the sculptural freedom offered by pioneering techniques to create pieces of extraordinary beauty and originality.  She launched her company in 2009.

The pieces are first modeled on the computer and then 3D printed in wax, before being cast into precious metals. They are finally painstakingly assembled and finished by hand. Each piece therefore combines the latest technologies with age-old manufacturing techniques. The result is an unique collection of remarkable sculptural jewelry which is as individual as those who wear it.

Made in Los Angeles.

Q1: What inspired you to become a jewelry designer?

Many things, but one is that my experience of the world is highly kinesthetic, so designing with the body in mind is natural.  Signs in galleries saying ‘Don’t touch’ the sculptures are missing the point… I wanted to make sculpture where touch was integral.

Q2: You started out as an architect. What do jewelry design and architecture have in common?

Both are sculptural and spatial.  There are times while working when I momentarily forget what scale I’m designing for, as if I’ve stepped inside a piece. 

Q3: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Nature, principally.  We all respond to the elements, plants and animals because we are not separate from them - our essence is the same, at a physical and spiritual level.  I hope the pieces capture the beauty of this.

Q4: Do you have a favorite design?

I should probably say no, but yes, Utroque is my favorite and I love the Ripula ring.  That's like asking if I have a favorite child.

Q5: When you are creating a new collection, do you start off with a single piece and build that up into a collection, or do you start with the idea for a collection and then craft each piece?

I usually start with an idea for a piece with the others hovering at the edge of my consciousness.  As the first piece evolves, so do the rest...Play is fundamental!  The best part of designing is not knowing what I’m going to discover along the way. 

Q6: What do you find rewarding about your work?

The process of designing fills my soul in the deepest way.  Having people enjoying wearing the pieces is a close second, especially since I often get to know those who buy them as I have repeat clients.

Q7: What's your favorite material to work with?

Space is a material to me, and it’s my favorite because without air around or between forms to allow us to appreciate them relative to others, they couldn’t exist as they’d be one big, dense blob.  Space highlights relationships between things and ourselves, both when they're static and when they're moving.  Space allows us the experience of density and lightness. 

Q8: Who bought your first piece?

In America, I had Corbin and Laura to thank, and in London, David.