“My clothes are my canvas and my jewelry is my art,” says Linnéa Götstav, the designer behind Renaissance Life. Sweet and sentimental, Renaissance Life jewelry is inspired by Linnéa’s family history. Linnéa fondly remembers spending days peeking into her grandmother Maj’s jewelry box, hanging on Maj’s every word as she told the story behind each jewel. “All Renaissance Life jewelry is born out of a story inspired by my grandmother’s values and her stories about the past, present and the future.” From whimsical nesting dolls to a modern locket, every piece has special meaning for the designer. Though Linnéa now lives and works in London, Sweden is still at the heart of her designs, and she loves nothing more than spending time in her parents’ kitchen. We spoke to Linnéa to learn more about what inspires her designs, how she built her brand, and why she sees magic in her jewelry.
"I am inspired by the ocean. Most of my collection is designed on the Swedish west coast."
1. Hello Linnéa – can you please tell us a little more about yourself?
I was born in Sweden in the beginning of the eighties. I studied art and design during high school and thereafter marketing and communication at university. Traveling, meeting new people and nature have always been my passions, and I have lived abroad several times: in Oslo, Sydney, Los Angeles and London, where I launched my brand Renaissance Life in September 2009. At the moment it feels I have two homes: London and Gothenburg, Sweden.
2. When did you know you wanted to become a jewelry designer?
My interest in design and jewelry has been with me since an early age. My grandmother was the one who introduced me to the world of jewelry and the mystery within. My grandmother lived in the far north of Sweden and during winter [her house] was often covered with more than one meter of snow and sometimes it was as cold as 30 minus degrees, so we had to stay inside. In the warmth, we spent time together and I enjoyed listening to her stories.
Year 1952 Secret Heart Necklaces - Click to buy
She had a wonderful jewelry box that had been passed on for generations; it looked like a Renaissance-era book with delicate golden corners and as a child I was drawn to it like a bee to honey – I always wanted to have a closer look. When she was telling me about life, poetry and her values I could, through the half open lid, get a glimpse of beautiful brooches, gold pendants and pearl necklaces inside. On special occasions, she also showed me the jewelry that had a unique meaning to her and she remembered it all: who she got it from, when she got it, and the magic that happened when she was wearing each beautiful piece.
Linnéa's grandmother: "(She) was the one who introduced me to the world of jewelry and the mystery within."
When I realized that I couldn’t find jewelry with the same mystic touch and stories as my grandmother’s, I wanted to create my label, Renaissance Life, and spread the magic, my grandmother’s words, and Swedish soul to the rest of the world.
Year 1963 Adjustable ring - Click to buy
3. How would you describe your designs?
Seductive, powerful, mysterious and sophisticated.
4. What types of materials do you use and why?
I use various materials, as it depends which material best suits each specific design. At all times, I want to be as free as possible in my creative process and not be limited by the material. My vision is to create jewelry that has an amazing design and high quality.
Most of the jewelry is made of silver; almost all of our pieces in the petite collection are made of sterling silver, as well as our signature ring, Year 1963. All pieces are limited edition and are handcrafted with love and good feeling. For most of the pieces, I use gold filled and silver-plated jewelry. The base metal I use is usually brass and the plating we do is the traditional high-quality layer on layer plating that will last to be treasured for years.
"Swedish granite is the stone that I use for my jewelry. You can find stones hand-picked from the Swedish ocean in the Year 302 Stone Age necklace."
In my design process, I use sustainable methods and am always thinking about the impact on the environment. For me, every step to the final product is important, and all parts need to be considered with care. We believe that “what comes around goes around,” and in every action we have this ethos in mind.
When it comes to gemstones, I much prefer rough stones in contrast to delicate, precious clear crystal stones. In some of my pieces, I use gray granite stones handpicked from the Swedish coastline. This rough, natural stone is full of energy after lying in the ocean for thousands of years and has a natural feel after it has been polished by seawater. Our Stone Age Year 302 necklace with a stone from the Swedish ocean inside is the number one bestselling pieces right now!
Year 302 Swedish Stone Age necklace - click to buy
This year we are launching a fine jewelry collection. For the fine Fair Trade anniversary collection “Re-birth,” I am working with Fair Trade gold, palladium and traceable diamonds. The collection will be the most exclusive collection I have ever made and to get hands of some of the limited pieces, you will have to order in advance and we will have your piece made to order. The price tag on this collection will be between £1200 and £100,000, and it will be possible to order the range at some point this autumn.
Year 1970 Freedom horse - Click to buy
5. What were the challenges in setting up your brand and how did you overcome them?
The challenge in growing a brand initially lies in the absence of financial resources. When you are starting up a brand, you have plenty of ideas and dreams that you want to achieve. But as a small brand with limited funds, you quickly realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It is frustrating, but if you learn to be patient and creative you can overcome this easily. How I overcame this was to write down what I wanted to achieve with the brand; in this way I could visualize my plans even before they had happened, which gave me more confidence when everything finally happened!
Year 0 Mini-Globe Bracelet Silver - Click to buy
Second, the lack of respect from people within the business industry. I have spoken to a few jewelry designers and they have all said the same. If you are telling people that you are running a jewelry label and are designing jewelry, many don’t take you seriously. I overcame this by being even more professional and committed and tried to get associations and good collaborations with other brands and designers. At the end of the day, it is only about how you feel about yourself that counts and what actions you make that is the difference between a successful or unsuccessful brand, but if you don’t get respect it’s frustrating. The funny thing is that now that we have grown a little and are talking about our international stockists, design collaborations, awards or Fortnum and Mason, no one laughs anymore and I can hear a totally different tone in their voices!
Last but not least, it has been very hard to be focused and know what is the best for the brand at all times. To overcome this I have been trying to have a clear vision and a strategy and I must always know the motivation behind my decisions. I have learned that you cannot be everywhere and you need to be able to say no sometimes. It is important to not only do things right; you have to do the right things!
Year 1955 Earrings silver - design process
6. Can you please tell us about the design process of your jewelry, from inspiration to the final product?
All Renaissance Life jewelry is born out of a story inspired by my grandmother’s values and her stories about the past, present, and future. My vision is to make jewelry with the same magical touch as my grandmother’s jewelry: jewelry with feeling, jewelry that is able influence people and touch their soul.
My design process is very organic and the ideas come to me naturally while I’m living my life. Many of my creative vision usually come to me while dreaming at night. With the inspiration in mind, I start creating the structure, the texture and shape. The first piece is usually made by hand in my studio and thereafter molded and cast. As the pieces are handcrafted, a piece of jewelry can take from around 3 hours up to around 20 hours to make. I have done some bespoke pieces that have taken over 300 hours.
Year 1970 Heart Bracelet Silver - Click to buy
7. Who is the Renaissance Life woman?
She is sensual, brave and powerful with an open-minded attitude to life. She loves traveling, music and knows what she likes. She is aware of the fashion scene, but her style is her own and she wears it in a unique and distinctive way.
8. How do you describe your personal style?
My style is classic in a relaxed way. I never follow trends when it comes to clothes. I wear dark, or soft, pale clothes in fine materials. I don’t usually wear patterns, as I want my clothes to be a background to the jewelry I wear. My clothes are my canvas and my jewelry is my art.
Year 5 The Magical apple - Click to buy
9. You are originally from Gothenburg, Sweden. Where do you like to shop, eat, and spend time in Gothenburg?
Gothenburg is on the west coast of Sweden. I love spending time in Saltholmen, taking walks along the water. Watching the waves hit the rocks is calming and empowering. I also love Haga, the oldest part of Gothenburg city center. It’s also nice to have a picnic in Slottskogen, a park in the middle of the city. Last but not least I love spending time with my parents and drinking tea in their kitchen.
I like to shop at Grandpa on Vallgatan, Tjallamalla on Grönsakstorget, and Emma & Malena on Vallgatan. When I am in Gothenburg, I like to eat at Sjömagasinet, Bon, Ottomania, and Björns Bar.
10. What are the three things you cannot live without?
Tangible things: My black notebook, Lakrisal (a Swedish candy tablet made from licorice root), and my favorite super-thick jumper.
Intangible things: Love, adventure, and freedom.
See more by Renaissance Life here