Minneapolis, MN-based designer Karin Jacobson launched her first collection in 2000, at the world-renowned Walker Art Center. As a native of Minnesota myself, I know what an incredibly huge deal this is; Walker Art Center is THE place to go for anyone obsessed with art and design! Karin herself continues to be fueled by the design process, referring to the meticulousness of working on a bench as “meditative,” and espousing that well-designed objects can uplift and inspire, not just the artist, but anyone who has the pleasure of seeing or wearing that art. Karin and I have mutual friends in my little sister and her boyfriend, so I’ve been an instagram fan for some time now. I’m thrilled she’s going to be making her JA New York debut this spring so 1) we can meet in person and 2) I can try on her gorgeous, impeccably crafted jewelry that has just the right amount of Scandinavian undertones to remind me of home.

JA New York: The first thing I ever designed was…

Karin Jacobson: I made a lot of things (working for other people) before I ever really designed anything myself – but the first thing I truly designed was a gigantic cocktail ring with a huge lavender cubic zirconia in it. (Then I proceeded to make a lot more enormous cocktail rings – they were so much fun, and I still wear them sometimes!)

JA New York: Every morning…

KJ: I tell myself I’m going to get up early and work out before breakfast, but almost always fail. Most days, I do work out in the evening after work instead, but there was a brief and glorious month or so this fall when I was getting in a good workout most mornings at around 6am. I worked out harder, and felt better, and even felt like I was getting more done at work. But with the long, dark, freezing nights, I fell off that wagon and haven’t been able to get back on. Maybe tomorrow?

JA New York: I have my breakfast…

KJ: My husband and I have coffee and breakfast at our dining room table. We live in a condo in Northeast Minneapolis, and we can see the commuter and freight trains pass by out our window, which I love! One of the best things about our living situation is that neither of us have to commute – Adam works from home and my studio is just a few blocks away – so we can afford the time for a lazy breakfast, while we read magazines or the news, and drink our coffee.

JA New York: Jewelry is all about…

KJ: Wearing jewelry is all about finding a work of art that you love, which you get to take with you everywhere you go. Making jewelry is all about being a sculptor of tiny things – and getting to use the most beautiful metals and gemstones you can find as your materials.

JA New York: One thing I wear every day is…

KJ: Aside from my engagement/wedding ring set (my design), every day I wear two of my Hook Bracelets – one with a three-diamond cluster and one with a hexagon shaped fair-trade ruby slice.

JA New York: I don’t eat…

KJ: Fois gras. I like almost every kind of food, but I just can’t do fois gras – it smells like cat food to me, and although I’ve never tasted cat food, they just seem like they’d be a pretty close match. Also, I feel bad for the poor, overfed geese!

JA New York: My favorite restaurants in Minneapolis…

KJ: Where to start?! Minneapolis is becoming such a fantastic foodie city (and St. Paul too)! My current top fave opened last year right in my neighborhood, Young Joni – they describe themselves as “wood fired pizza and Korean-inspired vegetables” but that hardly does it justice. Everything I’ve had there has been amazing.

Runner up restaurants include Revival for fried chicken; Hola Arepa for arepas, of course; Alma or Meritage for fancy date night; and the old classic, Manny’s for when the only thing that will do are perfect steaks and a good red wine.

I am sure I could think of a dozen more, but these are the first that come to mind.

JA New York: I am a maniac about…

KJ: Cooking and food! I love to cook, and I love to eat – and now my husband does too! (Well, he has always loved to eat, but now he’s becoming quite the home chef as well! And he loves to bake bread, so…bonus!) It’s a shared mania in my family, so every Christmas is basically a big cookbook/kitchen gadget exchange with them. Currently, we’re cooking a lot of Mediterranean, Italian, and Indian food.

JA New York: My obsession of the moment is…

KJ: I have two current obsessions. The first is a parcel of hexagon shaped, fair trade African rubies that I purchased this year. I love them SO much – I’m working on a little capsule collection with them.

The second is asymmetrical earrings – I’ve been playing around with them a lot lately. I made my most recent pair with Hessionite, Mozambique, and Malaya garnets.

JA New York: I’m currently reading…

KJ: I just started reading Leonardo DaVinci, by Walter Isaacson. It’s a fascinating biography of a truly amazing mind – someone for whom the categories of “artist”, “engineer”, or “scientist” didn’t exist, but who was simply interested and incredibly engaged in the world around him.

JA New York: I’m currently listening to…

KJ: Pod Save the World (a podcast about politics and foreign policy). It’s my current favorite podcast, but as I work alone, I’m able to listen to a lot of different podcasts, and books as well, while I work. Sometimes I miss having co-workers, but podcasts and books are definitely a perk of working solo.

JA New York: I motivate myself to leave the house in sub-zero temps by…

KJ: Lots of layers! The cold isn’t so bad when you’re dressed for it, and luckily, it seems like every year there are more stylish and diverse cold weather clothing options. When the worst thing about winter is having to buy yourself a cute, cozy parka…well, that just isn’t that bad!

Also, “cabin fever” is a big motivator – you just can’t stay in all winter in a place where winter lasts about 5 months. Plus, winter can be really beautiful – as it gets colder, it often gets sunny and there is a crisp, clarity to the air that you don’t see in other places or at other times of the year.

JA New York: 5 words that describe my brand DNA are…

KJ: Sculptural; ethically-sourced; meticulous; Scandinavian; timeless

JA New York: My trade show uniform is…

KJ: I start with comfortable shoes (usually some cute low boots) and work my way up. I don’t have a specific uniform (pants, skirts, and dresses are all good), but everything needs to have a good neckline for that day’s jewelry; black and gray feature heavily, since they’re easy neutrals to mix; and layers are vital, since you never know if the venue is going to be sweltering or bomb-cyclone freezing. At a show last year my booth was right under the cold air vent (which couldn’t be turned off because the rest of the convention center would have gotten too hot) and I ended up wearing my jean jacket over every outfit. I was SO glad to have it!

JA New York: My greatest accomplishment so far is…

KJ: One of the things I’m most proud of is having been a Muay Thai (also known as Thai Boxing) instructor. I trained in Thai Boxing for about 15 years, and after 7, was given the chance to become an instructor through the Thai Boxing Association of the USA. It was a physically hard test, to be sure, but that wasn’t the most important part. I competed, which was physically even harder, but also not what I’m most proud of. I think that the accomplishment I’m most proud of was simply starting something that was so hard and so very far outside of my comfort zone (I hadn’t been an athlete in high school or college) and sticking with it, week after week, until I became good at it.

To be clear, I’m much better at jewelry design than I ever was at Thai boxing, but jewelry was a lot easier and more comfortable to learn, so I still have a little burst of pride when I think back on those Muay Thai years. (And, I’m super glad I never broke a hand doing it!)

The JA New York Spring Show is taking place at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, March 11-13. Click here to register to attend!