Lila Rice Marshall is a designer and metalsmith based in New York City.
Lila’s work is inspired by both the natural environment and the human realm of engineering, hardware, and mechanism, and she strives to create pieces that embody the beauty of both when they intersect. The conversation between nature and civilization is everywhere in Lila’s jewelry: “There is something so lovely and so true and universal about the compulsion we have to carve something out of nature, to make some entity by hand from what the earth has to offer. The term manmade feels to me, thinking of it at this moment, like such magic.”
Geometry and symbols figure heavily in her work, creating a style that has been labeled “primitive modernist”, and she attributes this to the singular human experience of inexplicable attraction, both for the maker and the wearer. Lila has a background in socio-cultural anthropology from her studies at the University of California at Berkeley, so perhaps it is no surprise that she has a preoccupation with symbols and ornamentation. Her jewelry is made to contain and hold safe the power and meaning that the wearer assigns to each piece. “People ask me all the time: what does this shape mean? And my response is: that depends on you! I’m just the maker.”
The collection’s aesthetic embodies opposing elements: the masculine and the feminine, the organic and the industrial, the antiquated relic and the modern classic. In her metalwork you will often find, for example, that Lila chooses to fabricate a piece with both yellow gold and roughly-hammered, antiqued brass, or that she makes the story of simple stud earrings more complex by adding snake-print texture and mixed metals. Evident in the collection is the influence of both ancient art and design and of the local scrap yard. And then, of course, there is the wildness and energy of the modern metropolis, which is the heartbeat of the line.