As the chp…? project marks its 20th anniversary, we spoke with its eclectic founder about the ever evolving nature of jewellery design.
Text Gijs Bakker
My vision on contemporary jewellery stems from the idea that the concept is most important. Once there is an idea, then of course it is very important how the object is executed. But if it is lacking a concept, what is left? Nothing. As designers, we can imbue useful objects with meaning. Conceptual design within a context makes it possible to understand and respect the diversity of global cultures to create an authentic approach. When designing jewellery I have always had the industrial process in mind. I have never been interested in handmade things and I am, in fact, suspicious of their charm. It is the idea that matters and whether it is produced by me or by a machine nothing must detract from the underlying idea.
With chp…? jewellery, the foundation I co-founded in 1996, we ask well-established designers to invigorate the tradition of jewellery design, while paying particular attention to concept, play, new techniques and materials, and by concentrating more on the preciousness of the idea rather than on the material value of the object. Originality of the concept is central to the design and is supported by a fitting choice of material and technology. By showing that jewellery design evolves just like any other design discipline chp…? fills an existing void by making designer jewellery more widely accessible. With the foundation we want to show the world that by producing conceptual design jewellery, a good piece of jewellery is more than a decorative accessory
Gijs Bakker (NL, 1942) was trained as an industrial designer. His designs cover jewellery, home accessories, furniture and exhibitions. Bakker taught at various schools, among which the Design Academy Eindhoven. In 1993, Bakker co-founded Droog Design and is artistic director of chp…? jewellery, Amsterdam.