Jewelry designer Mark Armstrong Peddigrew is quick to point out that his initials are MAP. Appropriate enough for a man whose line is called cartography 40n 74w, and who has used the booty collected during his travels across the globe as fodder for his rustic vintage creations. We chatted with the designer about his shopping habits, hitting the road with Rufus Wainwright (!!), and what a man needs to look for in his jewelry.
How did you come to collect antiques?
It’s been a passion for years. No matter where I go, on holiday or for work, the first thing I do is Google antique markets. I always make time to source out whatever I can find.
Where are you from, originally?
I’m from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada, which is sort of the blueprint for my fascination with old things. It’s the oldest city in North America. It was the first place settled in 1000 AD by the Vikings, and John Cabot sailed there in the late-1400s, so it definitely has this anchor of history. Whenever I go home I go to estate sales, because you get all this furniture and these trinkets that date back to the 1800s. It’s definitely part of my upbringing to be surrounded by old things.
You’ve accompanied Rufus Wainwright on a few of his world tours now, right? How did you come to meet him?
I’m his personal trainer. We’ve been training together for the past three years now and I started traveling with him about two years ago. We just finished quite a lengthy 10-month stint on the road last year. We did 92 cities in 27 countries on four continents.
And that whole time you’re shopping?
Well, that’s where so many of my latest pieces came from. I had the fortune of going to 92 cities! I didn’t get to a market in every one but I did in a lot of them, especially in Europe.
What was your favorite market?
Oh gosh. You know I found some really awesome things. Rufus and I had four days off in between Stockholm and Copenhagen when we rented a car and drove down the Swedish coast. It was a weekend so there were a lot of flea markets and antique shops set up so I found some pretty awesome stuff there. In Melbourne I got some pretty amazing things, which kinda makes sense because Melbourne is the most European city in Australia. And in Tokyo, I found a few great pieces.
All of the pieces in the sale have a knife. Is that part of a larger narrative, like, men need to have a blade close to their hearts?
Each piece has a knife and some sort of religious medallion. There are certain saints I like to work with: I love Joan of Arc. She was so young and crazy and swallowed in flames. I think there is something romantic and daring and dangerous about her. St. Christopher, the patron saint of travel. I love to travel so much and all of these pieces are collected from travel. I also like St. George, who is the patron saint of England, slaying the dragon. It’s an awesome image when you get the nice detailed ones. Then there is also always an animal, a stone, or a token of travel—whether it is an anchor or horseshoe or the really rare most valuable piece, a compass. Every Sunday I go to the flea market in Chelsea and over the course of years I’d gathered these trinkets and put them on chains and just keep switching it up and eventually there became this one particular one that had all of these elements in it that just fit together. What stood out to many people was the mini knife I had. I liked the dichotomy of something that can be conceived of as a weapon but is very much a tool. I think all of these pieces have that dichotomy. They can be sexy and edgy and masculine but at the same time they have this old world nostalgia. One thing that never goes out of style is nostalgia.