Dinner Guest: Jeweler & Shop Curator Urte Tylaite

Alice Garbarini Hurley | Your East Village shop has such a lovely vibe. It’s like stepping out of the city, for all its energy and glory, and into a serene refuge.
Urte Tylaite | That’s where the name Still House comes from. The space is quiet and peaceful, and we have a minimalist aesthetic.

Even the colors are soothing. So are the pine shelves that hold hand-thrown porcelain vases by Robert Hessler, an artist from Kingston, NY.
We have a calming, neutral palette in the store, but what’s really important is the way the pieces are displayed. We put a lot of effort into creating a visual flow. The objects are very inviting to examine and look at; you are invited to engage. Our palette – for dishes, teaware and vases – transitions well with all whites.

Tell us about your merchandise edit.
In addition to my jewelry line, I handpick everything, with a focus on jewelry and items for the home, made by emerging artists and designers from New York, Japan and Europe. We carry Hudson Beach Glass from Beacon, NY. However, we also have vases by Brooklyn ceramicist Romi Northover, diamond rings by Los Angeles-based Jennie Kwon, a water carafe with a cup from Toyo-Sasaki Glass, and beeswax birthday candles from Fredericks & Mae.

How do you find the home items you carry in the shop?
The tabletop items come from different places, but I put strong emphasis on pieces made in the state of New York. I do go to design events and craft fairs, but a lot of artists I work with refer their colleagues. It feels like a true community.

The jewelry is so delicate, the gems like tiny diamonds in the sky.
Yes. After studying painting, fine arts and sculpture at Pratt Institute, I worked for a jeweler and realized that art alone could not be my lifelong commitment. Jewelry made sense to me. The stars immediately aligned. I started taking jewelry making classes at FIT and the 92nd Street Y. It felt like sculpture on a miniature scale. For example, my open Ekto gold bangle has a subtle detail: a black diamond on one end and a white diamond on the other. I thought, “Let’s hide some things.” You don’t expect to find the diamonds there. Rotate the bangle to show off one diamond or the other.

We heard you have a cult following among It girls.
My pieces have been shown in Glamour, Marie Claire, Women’s Health and other publications. Also, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gabrielle Union have worn some. Once, a customer came in and ordered a ring to be delivered to a Broadway address in the Theater District. The card said Anne Hathaway. Later, the actress appeared on the cover of the September 2015 issue of InStyle magazine. She was wearing my Nox ring with double diamonds on her right hand.

It’s very delicate, almost hard to see in the photo.
I feel that delicate jewelry becomes a part of you. You can leave it on in the shower and when swimming. The majority of my pieces are solid gold and can be worn all the time, but I always recommend that you take off sterling silver when applying lotions or when swimming in a chlorinated pool.

In addition to magazines, have social media influencers expanded your customer base?
The photographer Alice Gao has. She has her own blog and almost one million followers on Instagram. A lot of our younger customers come in because they saw Alice Gao wearing something from Still House.

Are your online orders on the rise?
We definitely saw an increase. About 30 percent of our purchases happen online. We reach a much wider audience through the website – shoppers from Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, the West Coast, Canada. It’s so interesting. We are a design boutique in New York City, yet we share our story with people all around the globe.

Did you inherit this designing gene?
I grew up in Lithuania. My family moved here in 2003, when I was 18, and yes, it seems everyone was into visuals or science; some were into music. My grandfather was a self-taught painter, my other grandpa was an agricultural scientist, and my grandmother was a meteorologist.

Did the women in your family like jewelry?
They wore minimal jewelry, like petite, delicate, tiny earrings and thin necklaces – really good pieces that you wear every day.

Do men come in to buy jewelry for themselves?
Yes. They like the super minimal look and delicate chains too, and we take special orders and can adjust all chains to the right length for a customer’s neck size.

Speaking of men, how about the work by sculptor Sergio Silva?
Sergio – we are partners of the heart. He made the geometric brass, aluminum and steel paperweights we carry.

Is your jewelry sold in other stores?
It’s at Bird stores in Brooklyn and Los Angeles and Azalea Boutique in San Francisco; it’s also featured in the Madewell collection on the J. Crew website.


Drink order?
A glass of Sauvignon blanc.

Dinner at home or out?

Best restaurant?
The Finch on Greene Avenue in Brooklyn.

For a client lunch?
I like keeping my client lunches casual and healthy. Dr.Smood strikes the right balance.

Ice cream or sorbet?
Ginger ice cream from Van Leeuwen.

Favorite movie actress?
Scarlett Johansson.

On your reading list now?
“Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond.

Cherished jewelry?
A sweet little gold band with a channel setting of black and white diamonds from my grandmother. That must be where I got my inspiration for my first collection featuring black and white diamonds. A channel setting is not very popular now, but I certainly hope that changes. My grandmother gave it to me for my 16th birthday, and it still feels very modern to me.

Jeweler tool you can’t live without?
Calipers, a measuring tool that takes really precise inside and outside diameter measurements. I keep one at all of my workplaces (studio, store, home) just in case. If, for example, customers are interested in wedding bands, we can immediately go into details of vast differences between 3 mm and 4 mm wide rings. I know 1 mm doesn’t sound like a lot, but in the jewelry world, it is.

Coffee or tea?
Black pour-over coffee with a little whole milk, sipped from a Hasami Porcelain mug. (Mug available at Still House.)

Beloved movie?
“Talk to Her,” the 2002 film written and directed by Pedro Almodovar.

Favorite music format?
Vinyl at home and Spotify at work.

Dream vacation?
New Zealand.

Clothing color?
All neutrals.

Buy clothing online or in stores?
In stores. Duo in the East Village for vintage jeans. Bird and Swords-Smith in Brooklyn for shoes and dresses.

Skirts or pants?
I have always only worn pants, but I embraced skirts this past summer.

Prettiest flower?

Why neutral colors for the home?
They are calming. They also provide a great background if accent colors are added in the future.

Why diamonds?
Because they are timeless.

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