When Coldplay’s bassist met a punk jeweller at the airport…
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Strange things can happen in an airport. For the musician and designer Guy Berryman and the fine jeweller Hannah Martin, the queue for the arrivals hall at Heathrow proved serendipitous. Coldplay’s bassist, who was returning from a gig in LA, could feel the scrutiny of a stranger fixating on his earlobe. “Everyone was getting a little grumpy with waiting, and this curious person approached me asking how long I’d had my earring,” smiles Berryman. “I thought ‘that’s odd’, as it has been in my ear for as long as I can remember.”
At Martin’s Clerkenwell studio, situated above her just-opened showroom and piercing studio, the pair talk about their rendezvous in 2021. Martin chivvied herself to make the approach when she spotted the gold and sapphire hoop earring. “It was one of the first pieces I made when I set up my brand in 2006 – hence the staring!” The chance meeting was a starting point of a collaboration: a jewellery line to complement Berryman’s clothing line Applied Art Forms.
A super-talent in music, Berryman trained in architecture and engineering before forming Coldplay in his late teens. “I thought I’d be designing chairs and lighting; music was a pipe dream,” he says. When the band took a break in 2018, Berryman – a collector of cars, synthesisers, watches, vintage military wear and Dieter Rams’ designs for Braun – took the opportunity to re-engage with the design world. In 2020, he launched Applied Art Forms, a line of unisex garments that take their cue from vintage workwear and military uniform.
“Jewellery was not on my radar,” says Berryman, who bought his much-worn Hannah Martin earring simply because he liked it. “I did not know who Hannah was, but when we met I’d been wondering what jewellery might look like for the brand.” Martin – with a jet-black mohawk and an ear full of gold screws, nuts and bolts, from her new HMp collection – is not a figure to forget. Born in Yorkshire to a mining family, she spent her teenage years in Bristol. “I had no interaction with luxury until I went on a work placement to Cartier in Paris while I was studying jewellery design at Central Saint Martins,” she says. “It blew my mind; I’m still in awe of how precious materials can be.” While spending her Paris nights at rock gigs, she imagined how she could merge the seditious energy of punk with the trappings of luxury.
At Heathrow, the duo bonded over a love of industrial forms and punk aesthetics. Shortly after, “we looked into Dutch vanitas paintings and the symbolism of the hourglass, rotting fruit, wilting flowers and skulls, expressing how transient life is”, says Berryman. They set upon emblematic symbols: the dog tag and hospital band (“something you wear at birth and at death”), a razor, a safety pin and a skull.
“Pins and razors have been done to death in jewellery, but I’m interested in approaching something ubiquitous and figuring out how to make it look fresh,” says Martin. “We looked into the design history of the razor blade, when it was first patented by Gillette, and how it has changed,” she adds of one line of research.
Hannah Martin x Applied Art Forms gold Narrow Razor Wristband, from £6,500
Gold Taper Razor ring, £5,950
Silver Vanitas Blade earring, £150
Silver and pearl Vanitas Skull earring, £175
The A Vanitas collection is menacing, taunting and highly refined, crafted in yellow and white gold and silver to offer a range of price points (from £95). There are wristbands with one edge designed as a razor narrowing to a riveted band (from £650); dog tags with a delicate, geometric side morphing into a softly sculpted form (from £425); safety pin earrings (from £715) and hefty signet rings (from £350). “Gold is the most beautiful metal to work in, it sculpts like butter and I love the warmth and weight,” says Martin, who creates moodboards and sketches before prototyping with 3D printing.
Music plays into the process for both Martin – who listened to Nine Inch Nails as she was designing the collection – and Berryman, who found himself on a jazz odyssey, starting with Miles Davis. “You have to surrender to jazz,” he says. “You get to know small phrases but every time you listen there’s something new.”
His career in Coldplay has also helped him navigate the world of fashion. “Being a member of a band is about collaborating; there’s a serious amount of diplomacy involved,” says Berryman, who lives in the Cotswolds with his partner Keshia and their three children, but runs AAF from Amsterdam. The first collection he designed in 2020 was scrapped: “It was garbage! I was thinking too commercially, and not being true to myself.”
Today, the brand has a dedicated following, particularly in Japan, where Tokyo’s Dover Street Market Ginza was one of the first stockists. When it comes to the new jewellery, be alert to those head-turning moments in arrivals halls.