MAKER TO KNOW: The Things We Keep


Kay Wang is a designer/maker based in Brooklyn, New York. Handmade jewellery is her speciality, however it would be unfair to pigeonhole her as simply an accessories designer. Kay makes everything; from from linen kitchen towels or beautiful spoons and combs to baked treats and exceptional made-to-order jewellery, her creations are timeless, useful and beautiful.

Since 2011, Kay has been at the helm of The Things We Keep, a minimalist jewellery and homeware business. Inspired by history, heirlooms and the precious treasures we collect during our lifetimes, the brand is a mix of architectural shapes, fairtrade and conflict-free materials and tactile finishes.

Having worked in marketing for a fair few years, Kaye clearly has a strong eye for detail and a wonderful ability to develop the defining features of each of her jewellery collections. Making each piece in her NYC studio, rings, bracelets and necklaces are inspired by a strong mix of art forms, styles and movements. Cave paintings, Bauhaus, stories of valour and adventure and of course, her own tastes and preferred flavours, lend every unique collection a wonderful sense of narrative.

‘I do things from start to finish.’ she says, ‘I design and I also fabricate, and though jewellery’s specifically what I do, it’s not beadwork. It’s casting, it’s working with wax, it’s working with metal. It has traditionally not been considered an art. It’s traditionally been considered skilled labor, which adds another layer of complexity. So I guess the short version is I don’t have a particular label.’

The Things We Keep is all about true craftsmanship. The idea that the small label is somehow keeping traditional techniques alive, making them appealing to contemporary collectors, is part of our initial attraction to Kay’s work. Bending and shaping metal to create symbols and signifiers that can be passed down from one generation to the next is a thing of beauty and something I relish when it comes to writing about talented creatives.

Blending elements of sophisticated, trend-led fashion with rustic, simplistic materials, The Things We Keep is my latest obsession. I probably have Kay’s Instagram feed to thank in part for that as her idyllic shots of ceramics, work in progress, expertly styled interiors and her beautiful fur friends raise regular smiles.

I am, however, just as drawn to the bold striped napkins, tiny earrings and special celebration jewellery that her store has to offer. With a modern aesthetic and a sensibility rooted in a love of the past, Kay and The Things We Keep bring a world of influences together to make our bodies and homes a little brighter.

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Words: Emily Beeson | @boogiemargaret