John began making jewelry while studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in London; on weekends he would visit Portobello Road or Brick Lane and find fabulous vintage bits... then he'd rush home, glue them into big, funky brooches, and wear them out at night. (It was the 80's after all... think Culture Club and The Thompson Twins!) John's love of Victorian jewelry (for it's beauty and symbolism) also played a big role in his work at the time. He set out to do the same, but in a fun, fashionable way. Before John knew it- he was showing at London Fashion week, selling to The Thompson Twins & being featured in British Vogue. ...Looks like we're in business!
Maximal Art is Born!
John moved back to his hometown of Philadelphia and Maximal Art was born (1985).* Our look hit the fashion world pretty quickly, we received lots of press, and the company grew quickly. One design in particular put us on the map-- four vintage watch heads linked into a bracelet that was the ultimate conversation piece! Signature found-object collage brooches and double brooches came to define the era and are now called Steampunk.
Within 6 months, Robbin Cook joined our exciting little fashion start up. By 1990 she became the company president, and has artfully guided the business and our growth since.
Minimalism & Gifts
The 90's brought many changes-- minimalism, a recession, and the evolution of Maximal Art into the watch and gift worlds. First came watches, as a spin-off of the 4-faced watches from the 80's. Later on in the 90's, we developed a distinctive look that played off of Victorian jewelry and essentially rebuilt the company into a world focused on sentiments, holidays and beautiful vintage illustrations.
A Return to Fashion
In 2004, fashion jewelry made a big comeback, and we got right back into it with the introduction of the John Wind Signature Collection. It was a new look, but using some of our iconic materials and themes-- vintage and modern chains and charms, and evocative stores from John's travels-- from Portobello Road, London to Worth Avenue, Palm Beach.
In recent years we rebranded ourselves John Wind/Maximal Art, bringing together the best of both our fashion and gift lines. Our design house now also includes a new division called Maximal Art Circa 1985-- a fun and free spirited collection for the young...or young at heart! And we continue to grow our private label business, where we act as the secret source for companies like Anthropologie.
And now, we're 30! We keep things fresh by surrounding ourselves with young creative talent, by continually looking to grow, improve, understand and master the rapidly changing world and marketplace! (And we always try to have fun while we're doing it!) As a special 'birthday present' we had the honor of being accepted into the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, featuring jewelry John designed throughout this incredible 30 years.
We just can't wait to see what's around the corner!
*John conceived and co-founded the company with his close college friend Hilary Jay. They worked together until 1990, after which Hilary went on to become an award-winning journalist, gallery director, and the co-founder of Design Philadelphia.