Gogo Ferguson and daughter Hannah.
It’s only fitting that jewelry designer Gogo Ferguson is drawn to Aspen and its natural beauty. As a native of Cumberland Island, Georgia—home to her family, the Carnegies, for seven generations—her collection is inspired by nature. Along with her daughter Hannah, also a designer and Gogo Inc. president, she crafts items and inspiration that wash ashore from the sea into beautiful, wearable art. From Thursday, August 1, through Saturday, August 3, Ferguson will host an exclusive trunk show at the Golden Bough (602 E. Cooper Ave., 970-925-2660) in Aspen. She visits town during a whirlwind of national attention, least of which is a current exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. She was recently filmed for an upcoming CBS Sunday Morning segment (to air in September), and her circle of friends and influencers include the likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Carly Simon, and Nicole Miller. Ferguson’s Aspen exhibition will showcase her affinity for the sea, nature, and organic design.
Your line is inspired by nature, our obsession in Aspen. How has Cumberland Island influenced your work?
GOGO FERGUSON: Cumberland Island has inspired me in so many ways of my life. Aesthetically, everywhere I look, I see patterns on the beach, tracks of animals on the dunes, lichen on the trees, spirals and patterns on shells, and the shapes of bones. With the mentorship of my wonderfully eccentric grandmother Lucy Ferguson, I was trained to look at nature in a very different way and our houses were always full of our collections from nature, as adornment. My house is designed and built by my husband David Sayre and myself—out of recycled everything! The towel holders are deer antlers, drawer knobs are shark vertebra, and the house is filled with wild boar skulls, alligator, and horse skull! My home wares line is a collection of mussel shell, oyster, and cockle serving spoons, sea urchin and bean pod candleholders, cactus mesh, and armadillo shell napkin rings.
Any particular stones or trends you're currently obsessed with?
GF: Stones we use are usually inspired from the colors we see in nature. Our barnacle rings are London blue topaz, lemon quartz, aquamarines. The limpet rings as well. My daughter Hannah who is now president of the company and designer has been instrumental in enhancing our designs with a very sophisticated twist!
How did your original bone designs transform into today's expanded Gogo line?
GF: The original designs were strictly bone with semiprecious stones, no casting in the beginning. Within a year or so we began the transformation with the lost wax castings in gold, silver, and platinum.
You're currently being exhibited at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. How would you define jewelry as wearable art?
GF: We are currently finishing an eight-month exhibit at the High Museum, which was extended through the summer due to its success. It will now start touring to the Montgomery Museum. Jewelry has been a form of wearable art for thousands of years. I see nature transformed in many museums throughout the world through jewelry. I believe when you are surrounded with nature—as I am on Cumberland Island and as those for thousands of years have been—one tends to incorporate those beautiful designs and patterns in their art.
CBS Sunday Morning has slated a show on your family's legacy at Cumberland Island. Did you have a mentor in the family that influenced your creativity?
GF: I have taken [CBS Sunday Morning] around the island to see it through my eyes and how I then interpret it in my designs. My grandmother Lucy Ferguson was definitely my mentor, as she taught me how to be still and study the amazing beauty of nature, whether it be the patterns of bird tracks on the sand, the perfect skeletal remains of a sun bleached snake or alligator, all of it was perfect in form and function to her. I imprinted on her teachings at a very early age and have never looked without a great sense of appreciation since then. I have done the same, I believe for my daughter!