Q&A: Dan Dower

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Dan Dower is the Co-Founder and Design Director at Dower & Hall, the company he established in 1990 with wife Diane Hall. The well known independent British jewellery brand has two standalone stores in London and Glasgow, has concessions in top UK department stores and are stocked up and down the country by over 100 independent retail outlets.
Dan heads up the design and bespoke element of the Dower and Hall business. A graduate of Middlesex University's Jewellery Degree course, he is a member of the National Association of Jewellers, a Freeman of the Goldsmith Company and City of London, and a fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. He answers the benchpeg Q&A.

What’s your name, and what do you for a living?

DD: I’m Dan Dower and I’m the co-founder and designer of Dower & Hall Jewellery, where I work with my wife Diane Hall to create sterling silver, precious and bespoke jewellery designs.

How did you come to work in the jewellery industry?

DD: I started working with jewellery when I was doing an art A-Level where there was a workshop attached to the Art Department. The first piece I made was a moving dial design inspired by the old dials on a car dashboard. I was interested in jewellery as another way of creating art and sculpture.

From there I went on to study BA Jewellery Design at Middlesex University, where I met Diane, and it was after that I opened my own studio in 1987. Diane and I went on to found Dower & Hall in 1990 with the help of the Prince’s Trust and it has gone from strength to strength since then.

How would you describe your work to someone who doesn’t know it?

DD: You can see my signature in all of the Dower & Hall designs, it’s the organic and sculptural feel.  

I think this comes from my desire to first and foremost make a piece of wearable art, including using bright colours and defined details.

You can also see the wrought nature of the pieces in the hammered finish, which is prevalent in our collections.

What is your creative process?

DD: I like to take photographs and sketch ideas, these are gradually developed and turned into the designs, which I often carve straight from solid silver. 

More recently I’ve also been working with 3D CAD which has been fascinating and allowed a new aspect of design.

Where do you love to shop?

DD: I’m not a huge shopper, but there are some experiences that are undeniably, hugely enjoyable. One of those for me is the Grand Souk in Marrakech, with so many colours, textures, smells and characters, it’s really the perfect shopping experience.

What is your inspiration?

DD: I take ideas from all around me, the biggest influences on my design tend to come from nature. I’ve also been very lucky to travel quite extensively and new landscapes, environments and cultures are full of new inspirations for me. It also gives me a chance to step back and view our own culture at home from a refreshingly different perspective.

What piece of jewellery do you most treasure?

DD: A piece that has a lot of meaning to me is one I made after college. I was working with carved acrylic in a fish design. It has little intrinsic value but the sculptural flowing shapes helped me define my own style and everything followed on from that piece.

What piece of jewellery do you most desire?

DD: It would have to be the jewellery that was designed by Salvador Dali and then made in collaboration with Carlos Alemany. 

They are in a museum in Catalonia and they are incredible pieces of art. It’s the mixture of precious materials which are impeccably made imaginatively combined with sculpture on such a small scale.

The pulsing heart piece is one I won’t ever forget.




If you could only be remembered for one piece of your work, what would it be?

DD: I think the one that represents me most as a designer is the Cascade ring made of white gold with a mix of blue-hued precious and semi-precious gemstones.

This was all about the texture and composition for me, it doesn’t use gems in a traditional sense of design, yet all fitted perfectly visually.

What would be your advice to someone starting out in the industry?

DD: I think it’s very important to find yourself, your determination and your own style, be stubbornly true to this. I would also say that you have to consider the balance of design and commerciality with designs, the best pieces are not only stunningly beautiful, but are also comfortable and a pleasure to wear.

The Benchpeg Proust Q&A

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  1. What’s your favourite work of art?
    DD: It’s a tie between two artists for me, Magritte for his thought provoking paintings and Barbara Hepworth with her simply sublime sculpture.

  2. Who from past or present would you invite to a dinner party for the evening?
    DD: I think it would be great to have a meeting of creative minds so it would be Picasso, Magritte and Dali.

  3. Do you have any pets, if yes, what is their name?
    DD: I have a miniature Schnauzer called Oscar, he can often be seen in our workshop and office!

  4. What is your most treasured possession?
    DD: It would have to be my passport, it is the one thing I need to be able to travel!

  5. What would you consider a perfect day?
    DD: A day skiing on the slopes, as fast as possible.

  6. Is there a favourite journey, trip or voyage you hold dear?
    DD: Diane and I visited Cambodia and arrived at Angkor Wat by boat, that was a truly magical trip and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

  7. What is your greatest achievement?
    DD: I am very proud to have been at the forefront of a quiet revolution over the past 30 years which has led to women self-purchasing affordable design led British quality silver jewellery. But I think my biggest achievement would have to be the brand itself, seeing the jewellery come to life and I’m also very proud of the atmosphere it’s made in and of course the Dower & Hall team is something I’m delighted to have built and be part of. 

  8. What advice would tell your younger self?
    DD: You will go through many situations and feel many emotions, make these a part of your creative process and turn what can feel like frustration into something beautiful.

  9. Can you sum yourself up in one word?
    DD: Optimistic.

  10. What motto do you live by?
    DD: There’s a motto I’ve heard and I think it’s very apt; ‘Modest in temper, bold in deed.’

Image credits: Images sourced from Dan Dower and Dower & Hall.


Rebecca van Rooijen


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