INTERVIEW: Haim Medine
Aug 06, 2013 - by INDIE
If your sister coins and trademarks the term “Arm Party”, creating a global frenzy for highly stacked baubles, there’s a good chance that jewelry design is in your blood. Haim Medine is the designer behind Khai Khai, a collection of highly covetable fine jewelry pieces which are finding their way on fashion’s elite.
Currently carried at New York’s treasure chest of fashionable must-haves, Fivestory, the collection takes notes from cultural conversations, finding inspirations from social media trends and sibling muse, Leandra Medine. Growing up in a household where the latest fashion trends were common dinner table conversations, Haim’s assortment of quirky gems are far from man repellant. I sat down with Haim to talk viral culture, dinosaurs, and establishing a name in New York’s highly competitive jewelry scene.
Your jewelry has a quirk that I think is direct commentary on our current social media obsessed culture. What drew you to creating pieces like your YOLO necklace and hashtag rings?
One of the key components in becoming successful is being able to provide your target consumer with what they want; you need to give the people what they want. By taking some of the elements from our current culture & offering it in an unconventional form like fine jewelry, I’m attempting to build a name for my brand and set myself apart from the others by doing things that stretch beyond the confines of fine jewelry.
What’s the story behind the name of your jewelry brand?
"Khai Khai" is actually a nickname that was given to me by my aunt when I was still in diapers. It is a play on words and a manipulation on the pronunciation of my Hebrew name, Chaim. As most people have told me while looking at my collection in full, the jewelry is whimsical, fun & just gives off a youthful vibe.
Naming the collection after a childhood nickname just happened to fit perfectly into my whole brand and I knew it would pave the way for a great story. When it's all said and done, every time Khai Khai is worn it should make the wearer feel perennially young at heart.
What is your favorite piece that you've created thus far and why?
I love my monkeys. I have these three blue "Daum" glass sculptures in my room, each of them representing one of the Three Wise Monkeys. It was from these sculptures that I was inspired to transform the ancient proverb into fine jewelry. When I designed the rings my intention was for my client to eventually own all three of them and wear them on their fingers side by side. I've even had a private client come into the showroom and purchase all three rings from the collection at one time!
This is super cliché, but obvi important for newbies in the game; where do you to find inspiration for your collection?
Being inspired is something that cannot be forced, it must happen naturally. I constantly analyze my surroundings and focus on my passions in an attempt to help ignite some inspiration and form new concepts which I can turn into jewelry. Once I'm inspired the ideas start flowing freely and I ride the wave. If something is forced then the creation will not speak.
Does your sister ever inspire your pieces?
I can openly say that both my sister and my mother play a huge role in my design process. I was brought up in a house with parents who have always been very fashion conscious and I believe that being in an environment like that from my early days has rubbed off on me in a significant way. When it comes to style I look nowhere else but to my mother and my sister. Something I will always have in mind during the creative process is whether or not my mom or my sister will wear what I am working on, if the answer is yes, it usually turns out to be a successful creation. Essentially, you can say that they both serve as my muse.
Your father is an industry vet, running a wholesale jewelry business, which I'm sure had some influence on your decision to venture on your own. Was jewelry design always the plan?
I’ve always considered myself a creative person and art was something I always took a keen interest in. Whether it was jewelry or some other form of art I was 100% sure I needed to put myself in an environment that allowed me to be creative. The driving factor in what drew me to jewelry was the mere fact that one could source natural resources that were placed in certain deposits of the Earth and in turn take those components, whether it be the precious metals or the natural stones, and blend them to create something of value. Being able to do so is a true art.
When did you first start creating jewelry on your own?
I started creating the day I started working for my father. I had built up a scrapbook of concepts and designs over the years and was waiting until I felt that I reached a level where I was confident to set out and start something on my own. I am fortunate to have had the ability to work for my father in order to gain the necessary experience and knowledge that I then would go on to take and apply to my own creations. I cannot place a value on that experience in itself.
What's next for Khai Khai? What can we expect from your next collection?
The design process is ongoing and will never end. One of the things that makes jewelry with such a strong emphasis on fashion so fun is the fact that you need to constantly challenge yourself, evolve and think of ways to stay fresh and build unique concepts. Dinosaurs used to be a childhood obsession of mine, I don’t want to reveal too much but I’ll let you imagine…