Late last year, Childish Gambino returned to music with Awaken, My Love! The album made headlines for its classic funk sound, stark departure from Gambino's previous work, and its album cover. The cover is dominated by a face frozen—whether that face is feeling ecstasy, fear, or new life is hard to say.
The face is wreathed in an intricate, bone-like headdress designed by WXYZ Jewelry, a Brooklyn design shop led by Laura Wass. She started the company five years ago, and the brand quickly carved out a niche for its instantly recognizable geodesic dome structures. Wass has had her pieces appear in Beyoncé's "7/11" video, been commissioned to make work for Erykah Badu, and the requests have only increased with time. Something in her sculptural jewelry has struck a chord in the music industry, and the Gambino album cover was one of their most prominent placements yet.
Better yet, Wass didn't even know it was coming. "It came as a total surprise," she said. "The piece was originally meant for another artist... we had even made a body cage to go with it."
The headdress was passed on to Ibra Ake, and the creative director worked with stylist Soukena Rousssi, makeup artist Sheri Pinto, and model Giannina Otero to create the iconic final product.
We went to Wass' Bushwick studio to see where it all started, and hear how her work has caught fire amongst the music industry's upper crust.