TEFAF New York Spring (The European Fine Art Foundation), from 4th to 9th May, is the place to be to have a look at the new trends of Fine Art. Christian Hemmerle, recently appointed to Tefaf’s Board of Trustees as Board and Executive Committee Member, will be participating at Tefaf New York with a new exhibition-stand designed by the Dutch architect Tom Postma, and inspired by the Historic Rooms of the Park Avenue Armory, where the booth will be. Hemmerle blends the vocabulary of sculpture with the functional demands of jewelry design in today’s society, and for this last Tefaf Spring edition, he worked together with Tom Postma to create an experimental space that compliments the jewelry within, by using the power of esthetic innovation and beauty to engage viewers in unexpected ways.
In this interview, Christian Hemmerle tells about how to strengthen their role at the ‘bastions’ of a new esthetics in jewelry and the innovators prepared to take risks that keep them at the vanguard of contemporary design, whilst remaining utterly dedicated to craftsmanship and exceptional quality.
According to Joanna Hardy, Hemmerle jewels will become ‘the antiques of the future’.
We strive for a timelessness in our jewelry, hence this was the ultimate compliment. We aim to achieve a power- fully audacious modernity, layered with cultural references to art, architecture and artisanship, all underpinned by craftsmanship and quality that will stand the test of time. A balance between ancient techniques and new processes, as we believe it is important to preserve traditional skills among craftsmen whilst developing new ones.
How would you de ne these 125 years in your jewelry history?
Our journey has been a natural progression from medal and ornament makers to the one-of- a-kind pieces we are known for today. No two Hemmerle jewels are alike and no combination of materials the same. We do however have signature styles such as the openended harmony bangle with its seamless closure, structural pieces with geometric lines, necklaces with chains knitted in the round of cut stones using an old Austrian technique hung with a luxuriant tassel and spiky earrings studded with reverse-set pavé.
We wanted to create a new work that honoured the traditions of our past whilst combining them with the contemporary esthetic and materials we are known for today. The pieces in Hidden Treasures are inspired by our history as medal makers. Our archive is kept in the cellars of our Munich atelier and we delved into it to discover old embossing stamps – we took inspiration from the shapes and forms found to make contemporary works. My wife Yasmin is Egyptian and when she joined our family we began to explore Egypt and were mesmerized by the country’s unrivalled rmament of historic sites jewelled with pyramids, temples and dazzling color. The amuletic power of Egyptian jewels with their fascinating symbols and stories and stylised simplicity are a big source of inspiration in Revived Treasures, our Egyptian body of work be- ing unveiled in October 2018.
What period are you most influenced by?
Historically Hemmerle has been inspired by German art movements like the Bauhaus and Neue Sachlichkeit but at the same time we have learnt to take inspiration from everything around us from nature to geometric lines in contemporary architectural buildings. My father Stefan always taught Yasmin and I to walk through the world with our eyes open as it tells you everything you need to know. Our pieces are intended to re ect the originaliity, individuality and beauty of the world.
You have the production in-house, right?
Yes, we make around 220 one-o handcrafted pieces of jewelry a year. Each piece is made on site at our Munich atelier by our team of 22 master-craftsmen. It can take years to nd the materials for a piece (for instance nding two melo pearls of the same size or two cameos that sit together) and once in production, a single piece can take up to 500 hours. We are constantly using new materials and in the last few years have increasingly used alu- minium for its natural strength and light- ness in weight. Its malleability enabled us to focus on innovation and create works which are delicate in design yet highly durable, whilst remaining true to our dedication to craftsmanship. Through a process of anodizing, we have been able to create aluminium in a variety of hues that complement the natural colors of di erent gemstones. When we work with new materials, a lot of things are trial and error because we can’t predict the outcome.