Gina Pankowski Makes Metal Modern

A little glitz, and a little glam, and a woman can feel brand new. Marilyn Monroe said the right shoes can help women conquer the world, but it’s diamonds that are a girl’s best friend. Accessories are one of those ingredients to style that the world just can’t seem to get enough of. And yet, it’s the accessory designers that are hidden behind the shine of all those the gems. Which is why you might know her designs all too well, infact we wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been lusting after them for years, but you are about to get to know designer Gina Pankowski, the metal-wielding, jewel-loving genius behind Lattis Design.
She’s been featured in W Magazine, Spotlight Seattle, and now she’s getting her word the Wire.“I’ve always loved jewelry, clothing and accessories. One side of me is very much a girly girl. I’ve always been a creative maker but did not consider jewelry as a career until I was well into my Fine Art and Art History studies at the University of Washington. The Sculpture Department was very male dominated in the early 90’s when I was there. I decided to take a jewelry fabrication class in the department of Metal Design. I was hooked; my first class with Mary Lee Hu ( whose 50-year retrospective of her jewelry work is currently at BAM) was so exciting. There are so many levels of possibility with jewelry each offering the wearer to make their own personal statement, from fashion, cultural to sentimental, people communicate through their jewelry and I love being part of that.”
Pankowski describes her way of processing the world, and in turn being inspired by her surroundings, as mathematical. Design obviously takes imagination, but for her, it takes understanding; she often refers to her pieces as “three dimensional drawings” or “organic architecture”. And it’s an appropriate conclusion, because Pankowski designs have a delicate way of balancingoppositions. Metal in chains become girly, delicate even with their edge; gem-adorned rings mix motifs of this world and another in cosmically entrancing cages. Pankowski doesn’t think outside the box…Her mind is three steps out the door of the room with the box…
“My process starts with drawings. I take the drawings into a prototype phase with wire models to work out how the piece will fit and move with the wearer. I work out mechanical issues at this phase too, how the parts of a piece work together. Because many of my designs are chains using multiples of similar shapes my studio assistants help me to fabricate these pieces.
“All of my work is made by hand in my Seattle studio. I love to use gems in my designs to enhance their movement, add sparkle. I choose gems that inherently have their own movement like Star Sapphires, Cats Eye Tourmaline and Moon Stones, the crystal structures of these gems cause optical movement. These gems are very unique and rare.”
That’s right, it’s all hand-made here in the Northwest. So that stunning shot of January Jones sporting a Lattis Design was forged right here in our humble home town. And the designs are increasingly going out of this world, but Pankowski plans to stay down to earth. Currently the label is expanding into larger markets. This year, she was given the Award of Excellence at the opening gala of Indulge Jewelry Market Place at the Bellevue Art Museum.“Jewelry represents for me a way for a person to express themselves, a reminder of your own personal strength and creativity. In fashion jewelry is often the statement piece, the finishing touch. I don’t feel dressed without it!…I am designing for someone who is interested in more than the surface of their daily experience, someone who enjoys conversation and is not afraid to make a statement now and then.”
Having her hand so heavily in, what does she see here in Seattle?

“Grunge is over in the Northwest. This week I’m feeling we should be leading the way with innovation of water proof fabrics, rain boots and hand warmers could be included in my next bracelet design!”
(Yes please!)
And her signatures style?
“Black leggings with a soft layer on top, sexy boots and an awesome collection of my jewelry!”
To get your own hand-made Gina Pankowski design, just head to:
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