Exclusive: Studio Visit with Aaron Ruff of Digby & Iona


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It’s easy to miss the Brooklyn studio of emerging accessories line Digby & Iona. Everything about it is unassuming, including the small rusted sign that reads “D & I” above the door. That, however, is the perfect introduction to designer Aaron Ruff and his fall collection. At first glance, his pieces (often inspired by his childhood in Maine) could be described as whimsical, but as you delve deeper, you realize you’re admiring the skill of a true craftsman (just like his father).

Although the fashion industry seems to be striving for the latest trend, Digby & Iona creates pieces that are timeless and meant to be relished for years to come. It has always been a line that captures minute detail — from the expression on a stags’ face to the way a rope seamlessly wraps around a ring. A pendant necklace featuring a vintage mini telescope actually functions. This is the part that is truly inspiring and makes you rush out to the store to collect every piece.

Ruff didn’t start out at Parsons the New School for Design creating jewelry; he was there for furniture design. Drawn in by the intimacy of jewelry making and the thrill of seeing his pieces on other people, he decided to launch Digby & Iona in 2006, and continues to put out a collection each season. Fall 2009’s offerings — while tighter, more concise, and technically advanced than his previous work — display the style and skill he has been honing for the last three years.

Fall 2009 Collection preview

Ruff occasionally collaborates with other likeminded artists, and his latest joint venture is based off of the illustrations of fellow Mainer and shop owner, Montana Knox. These can be purchased through their online store or at their shop off the Bowery at 4 Extra Place (an un-signed alley off East 1st Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue in NYC). The shop also showcases Montana Knox’s own line of apparel.

Although he sells at stores like Catbird, Odin, and BBlessing (find brick and mortar retailers in your city here) his revamped online shop will help him become more connected with his audience and create a better dialogue with the customer.