Jewelry designer Katey Brunini, founder of K. Brunini Jewelry in Solano Beach, Calif., is known in design circles as a free-thinking, profoundly creative talent. And her latest collection of nervy jewels, Brutalism, will surely burnish that reputation.
Brunini developed the collection during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which she found herself inspired by the chonky forms and pitiless lines of Brutalist architecture, a style that emerged in the 1950s and grew out of the early-20th century modernist movement. More specifically, she was inspired by the works of Louis Isadore Kahn, an Estonian-born American architect based in Philadelphia (Brunini loves the striking Salk Institute Kahn’s firm designed in San Diego), and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who’s regarded as one of the pioneers of modernist architecture.
“Just as Brutalist buildings are characterized by minimalist constructions that showcase bare materials and structural elements over decorative design, Brunini has crafted a collection of jewelry that embodies a shift from totalitarianism to pure liberation,” reads a company statement on the collection.
Over email, the designer confirms the inspirations, also noting that the collection name refers to the fact that recently, “life has been a bit brutal in some ways” for us all. “Life is beautiful and brutal—interwoven and interconnected, like the unique copper in this collection and the multi-layered patina it boasts,” she says. “The point of creating Brutalism was to celebrate a time of inner stillness, a reflection of the beauty that can unfold when we look inward for peace and knowledge.”
The materials used in the collection, including a large piece of copper patina-ed naturally by decades of exposure to SoCal’s coastal elements, were gathered from recycled and sustainable sources. “In the past, copper might have been passed over in fine jewelry,” Brunini says, “but I loved the challenge of taking it from a rudimentary metal into a truly exalted state.”
The designer chose sparkling opal, burnt orange, yellow, gray and white diamonds, jade, and morganite to add shine to the collection. The combination of the dazzling gems with the dull copper make for an interesting visual juxtaposition—and double as a reminder that opposites not only attract, but often beautify one another.
Top photo: K. Brunini copper and gold earrings