My husband and I are in the midst of decorating our new house. We find ourselves being drawn to seemingly disparate styles. We love Victorian clutter, and yet we also love sleek minimalism. We like aspects of midcentury modern, and we even like some steampunk accents. We found ourselves at a loss on how to incorporate all of our favorite eras, and yet to remain contemporary and present.

Introducing a fellow Brooklyn, NY resident, Jason Miller! Jason is influential in breaking the rigidness of contemporary modernism and initiating the back-to-nature movement in design. Born and raised in Darien, Connecticut, Jason’s suburban upbringing heavily influenced his early, more conceptual pieces — duct-taped chairs and cracked vases, among them — and continues to inform the elegant, historically rich work that has become his signature.

His Superordinate Antler Collection (2003) could be called an artful collision between hunting lodge décor and high-end contemporary design. The whimsical antlers are available in white ceramic, chrome and gold finishes. 

The_Walk_Up_Post_Meta_Tag-300x34A perfect mingling of organic masculine energy and quiet austerity, paying homage to  the fauna without harm.

Available for purchase at Jason’s own Roll & Hill, Design Within Reach or Future Perfect.  It’s “nature made better!”

Hidden on an unassuming side-street on the border of Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill in Brooklyn, NY lies Aaron Ruff’s studio. Based out of the The Invisible Dog Art Center, Ruff’s jewelry line is asperous, craggy, whimsical and filled with motifs of yore: Latin phrases, ballinger vessels and other ships fueled by the trade winds, antique letterpress keys, anatomical parts seemingly drawn by Henry Gray, and other sundries. And yet, from the creation of rough-hewn objects comes some of the most unique and delicate engagement rings I have ever seen.

Meet Digby & Iona.  In addition to the jewelry, the studio is  packed floor to ceiling with antiques and curiousites fit for a Victorian cabinet.

And who are Digby & Iona? Well, no one…really. Ruff chose to name his company after two quiet seaside towns in Nova Scotia, Canada (inspired by a trip taken before the studio’s creation). The names just happen to also be a juxtaposition of two interesting and sophisticated people who sound vaguely literary.


Shifting his style a few years ago, Ruff now splits his focus between sterling silver creations, high-end gold stacking rings, and diamond engagement rings on commission. He sources his gems from a fellow NYC company that has an ethical mine in India. Ruff, who used to be a carpenter and cabinetmaker, has been interested in adornment since his teens. He loves to work with “the weird stuff,” such as black diamonds, “salt-n-pepper stones”, sapphires, and tourmaline. Lately, the work is becoming more geometric and architectural; literally building houses for his stones – a much more personal nomenclature than “prongs” or “settings.”

Not just for the gentler sex, Digby & Iona explores the intersection between masculine and feminine, chunky and dainty, antiquated and new. My colleague Meg and I tried on plenty of ultra thin bands alongside heavy signets (ala Henry VIII) with the idea that body decor is androgynous and personal.

Ruff is a transplant from Dresden, Maine. A town with a population of 1,672 people in a county that seems closer to Canada than the rest of the USA. This idea of obscurity pervades most of his pieces.


We continued speaking casually over the sound of a tumbler polishing pieces and Ruff’s dog whinnying at a bird outside. Extensive research is done over every piece, no matter how many millimeters of design. We explored items inspired by the War of 1812, J.R.R. Tolkien quotes, and essays by Teddy Roosevelt.

If you want jewelry that speaks to the past and is connected to human affairs and bygone quotes, Digby & Iona offers a veritable library of inspiration.

Like happening upon a shipwreck, spelunking for geodes, or unearthing buried treasure, or a map to a hidden cache, the details in Ruff’s studio and jewelry present themselves slowly but richly.

Adorn Yourself.


My Week in Snapshots: 6/09/2014 – 6/17/2014

After a two year hiatus, The Walkup has returned to one of its original, weekly features – “My Week in Snapshots.” As any regular reader can tell, The Walkup got a responsive redesign. The theme was created by the fine folks at Elma Studio, based in Germany. It is minimal, and can be viewed on mobile devices. Let me know what you think, lovely reader!

  1. DUMBO – for those of you not in the know, this neighborhood acronym stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. In fables and fairy tales, only ogres and trolls lived under bridges, but in Brooklyn we’ve got coders, artists and hipsters.
  2. Scalamandre Wallpaper, a favorite of mine, especially because of its use in The Royal Tenenbaums. Katie and Casey, wonderful Manhattanite friends, welcomed us to our new home with this stellar gift wrap.
  3. My husband and I drove to a lovely wedding in Hamilton, NJ thanks to our trusty Zipcar.
  4. Spotted while looking up above Union Square, someone must have paid a pretty penny for us to ponder our “existence” in the cloud.
  5. Zainab and Kousha brought us delightful cupcakes from the Lower East Side’s Prohibition Bakery, a speakeasy-themed shop specializing in booze-spiked, cocktail-flavored artisanal cupcakes. I highly recommend the “car-bomb” with whiskey, Bailey’s, stout, and chocolate.
  6. Home Sweet Home! My husband and I finally crossed the bridge into Brooklyn. Alternative blog name? The Green Door.
  7. The Brooklyn Farmacy, around the corner from my house, serves original Egg Creams using Fox’s Ubet Syrup! This old-school soda shop, based inside a restored, 19th century apothecary, dispenses sundaes and comfort foods, straight from the soda jerks.
  8. My nephews came to visit! We set up a guest room just for the boys, giving new meaning to #Twinning.
  9. Our cousin’s home in Wandsworth, London, UK is a perfect example of edited, minimal perfection.
  10. The Nutella bar at Eataly NYC in the Flatiron District allows guests to discover and experience Nutella in creative ways they have never tried before. The menu features Crepes, Crostatina, Pane and more! The shop also gives eaters some history of the iconic, Italian brand. Om Nom.
  11. Mr. Squirrel attempts to eat birdseed from our feeder every day at 9:00 am. At least he’s consistent.

What did you explore?