Isabelle is a designer and goldsmith who specializes in handmaking fine contemporary jewellery. She has recently opened her gallery and workshop on Upland Road in East Dulwich where she shows her own work and pieces of five other designer/makers from across the UK.
How long have you lived in the area?
I’ve lived in the Brockley/ Crofton Park area for the last 9 years, but my business in East Dulwich is a baby: I moved into the studio mid-March this year! (A week before lockdown, my timing isn’t great.)
What brought you here?
It was a jewellery shop before and I’ve known my landlords for years, even used to do some work for them. When they approached me to say they were retiring, and would I like to take over the workshop and shop it seemed like the perfect opportunity. It’s close to home too (I used to be based in Hatton Garden), so no more crowded trains for me!
What do you most value about the area/street you live in?
I’m very impressed by the community spirit in East Dulwich, people here seem to really want to support small local businesses.
What’s the one thing you couldn’t do without?
My bike! It gets me absolutely everywhere at the moment and is as comfortable as an armchair. Got to love a proper Dutch bike.
Do you know your neighbours?
I’m slowly getting to know them, but I’ve been so busy at the workbench that I have very much neglected popping into other local shops to introduce myself…It will happen, I promise!
Describe your perfect weekend
A long cycle ride that includes a visit to the pub and seeing an exhibition at a gallery. Not necessarily in that order though…
I love exploring London by bike and museums and galleries being open again after lockdown has made me a very happy human being!
Where are you likely to be found on Saturday?
During the day you’ll find me at my gallery, most likely being busy at the bench or designing for clients. The evenings are for meeting friends in one of South East London’s many excellent pubs.
What is your favourite place to eat?
Venturing out of East Dulwich, but it’s hands down Babur in Honor Oak. Fantastic Indian food and the best cocktails!
Coffee or tea? Where?
Because I live in Brockley my first love will always be the Brocca, but the Blue Brick Café in ED is a very close second. And it’s always coffee – strong and black.
Cafe, pub or bar?
No contest: always the pub.
What’s your favourite place to go for a drink?
The Ivy House in Nunhead. Community owned and run, it’s a gem of a place. Plus, it’s halfway between my gallery and home, so ideal for a quick drink after work.
If money was no object..
I’d still be doing exactly what I’m doing at the moment. I love hand making fine jewellery. The whole process is incredibly rewarding: I’m creating something that will be cherished by people for a very, very long time. What more could you possibly want.
The book I’m reading at the moment..
I’m currently re-reading Paul Auster’s 4-3-2-1 for the second time. He’s an excellent storyteller and you can lose yourself in his books. I have a very soft spot for the surrealness he finds in everyday things.
My secret ambition..
I’d love to be able to take on an apprentice and pass on my knowledge of the craft. People like me are a bit of a dying breed and it’d be nice to be part of keeping hand making fine jewellery alive. One day!
This article first appeared in the September issue of SE22.