Report of the Florence Jewellery Week 2015

Article  /  Review
Published: 18.06.2015
Report of the Florence Jewellery Week 2015.
Le Arti Orafe
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The Florence Jewellery Week has been a wonderful project dedicated to the jewelry world and  has represented an occasion to think about the complex relationships between artistic research, crafts and design. LAO (Le Arti Orafe Contemporary Jewellery School) has organized contemporary jewelry exhibitions of international well known artists, lectures regarding different approaches to jewelry and new technologies for goldsmiths and artists, master craftsmen’s live demonstrations, workshops and a meeting with friends and Lao’s former students to celebrate Lao’s 30th anniversary.

Through these events related to contemporary jewelry LAO’s mission of connecting worlds was successful, and not only under the art, crafts, design and technological points of view but also for having approached different traditions, innovation, culture and techniques, which gathered altogether under one roof from Europe, Africa and Asia.
LAO has honored the city of Florence, especially the Oltrarno area, with its culture and glorious past of artists and “Botteghe” (workshops), which, for seven days, has become the center of the world for contemporary jewellery. It was a great experience and everyone seemed to be very satisfied. Guests were asked what was their most precious moment and they all answered that the atmosphere of curiosity, exchanging and sharing stories and experiences was very special and unique. LAO really believes in the power of connecting and gathering people from different countries: artists, professors, curators, designers… We were honored to have with us all these special guests and we are so proud for the success of all this week that we can already announce the 2017 Florence Jewellery Week edition!

Opening ceremony
On Thursday, May 28, at 6pm, took place the opening ceremony of the Florence Jewellery Week. The inauguration was held in the magnificent setting of the cloister of Santo Spirito church. After the opening speech by Giò Carbone, the director of Le Arti Orafe, and after a short greeting to the institutions represented by the councilor Giovanni Bettarini, the Florence Jewellery Week officially began. While some guests toasted the beginning of all the events, others were already visiting the exhibitions at the Salvatore Romano Foundation, Bardi Cultural Center and ZetaEffe Gallery, all of them located in the same area. In these three locations the magical and extraordinary fusion between art, crafts and contemporary design was perfectly represented.

Opening Ceremony by Gió Carbone
Fondazione Salvatore Romano
The museum is situated in the old refectory of the convent erected alongside the church of Santo Spirito and it houses the collection donated to the city of Florence by the antiquarian Salvatore Romano. In between of these works of art were set up the showcases containing Philip Sajet’s and Xavier Monclús’ jewels. Monclús’ objects are characterized by his playful, toy-like aesthetics, in which there is always a deeper meaning. Brooches are characterized by geometric shapes, but never leaving the figurative world. Sajet’s jewels are clearly structured, showing variety of materials and colors. This exhibition has integrated the art of the XIV century with contemporary jewelry, creating a fascinating and intriguing show.

View of the exhibition

Istituto dei Bardi
The mission of the Istituto is to preserve the heritage of tradition and culture connected to the historic manufacturers and master craftsmen of the Oltrarno. LAO decided to organize here the exhibition that has collected the jewels of Nora Fok, Mi-Mi Moscow, Zhenghong Wang, Kezhen Wang and Bifei Cao, in addition to the special sections dedicated to the African collection and jewels curated and realized by Martina Dempf and to the Indian artisans of the Ganjam Nagappa & Son company.
It was a really international exhibition: objects came from China, England, Russia, Germany and Australia, and showed styles, inspirations and different techniques used all over the world nowadays. The exhibition’s path forced people to reflect on the relationship between artistic research and traditional crafts. There was a room featuring items made with the support of the latest techniques and technologies and then another room where people could admire the rich collection of Eritrean and Ethiopian artifacts; they walked into a room which exposed conceptual objects to get to the other one in which Indian artisans were doing a demonstration of traditional techniques and knowledge transmitted from generation to generation for more than 5000 years.

Galleria ZetaEffe
 This gallery in Via Maggio housed the 2015 edition of Preziosa Young exhibition that gives voice to the new generation of contemporary jewellery makers. The five young artists were selected in a competition and were awarded for their originality and the quality of their work. It was a very interesting exhibition because it represented, from a certain point of view, the ideal continuation of the above-mentioned exhibitions. These other two showed us the past to bring us up to the present, while Preziosa Young propels us into the future, into the next generation of promising jewellery designers.

Meet the Artists, exhibition

The lectures took place in the auditorium of the State High School of Art of Porta Romana on May 29 and represented the occasion for an important insight into the dynamics and developments of the contemporary jewellery world. The speakers were Barbara Schmidt, jewellery designer and director of the Academie für Gestaltung in Munich; Martina Dempf, jewellery designer and anthropologist; Gabriele Goretti of the European Institute of Design (IED), Shannon Guo, professor at the Fine Arts College of Shanghai and artistic director of Two Cities Gallery, Shanghai, and Shruti Agrawal, Goldsmith from India and living in Florence. The interventions, one hour each, were followed and managed to give a complete overview on the subject of jewellery. The day ended with the presentation by Negar Azhar Azari (NAA studio), a LAO former student, of a new project for a free app for smartphones allowing to wear jewelry virtually, in augmented reality, to later decide to buy it or not.

View of the lectures room
Giò Carbone introducing the lectures

Meet the Artists
On the morning of May 30, from 11:00 am to 1.00 pm, the public was able to meet the artists in the three different locations. These very interesting meetings were much enjoyed by the artists themselves. They were able to explain to a heterogeneous public their work and the process of realization of their jewellery, the idea and the research that guided them and the materials that they used. The public could enjoy the jewels more and the exchange and sharing what is most precious for them.

Meet the Artists, traditional techniques

Meet the Artists, traditional techniques

Meeting the artists

New Technologies
After the meeting with the artists, the State High School of Art of Porta Romana welcome LAO and its public again for a short series of lectures on new technologies for goldsmiths and artists. Speakers were Abacus company of Piacenza which presented 3D modeling and scanning, Riacetech of Arezzo with a presentation on innovative lost-wax casting and Progold of Vicenza with 3D metal printing and soldering paste. These lectures, although they were intended for a more specialized public, enjoyed a considerable success and showed a great interest. All the companies gave theoretical explanations accompanied by appealing live demonstrations.

Master Craftsmen
On Sunday, May 31, crafts were the absolute protagonists. Some of the most prestigious craftsmen came to visit LAO – Le Arti Orafe in the courtyard and in its laboratories and gave live demonstrations of their work. They were there to interact with the public and explain their works step by step. LAO had the pleasure to host Gianfranco Pampaloni, silver master craftsman, Manetti Battiloro, with a video on gold leaf making, Lorenzo Foglia, mastering his embossing and chisel, Marco Paci, with his beautiful creations of Florentine mosaic, Francesco Pinzauti, master of stone setting, Giuseppe Casale, hand-engraving master craftsman, Filippo Vinattieri with hand-engraving and Memar by Sara Meucci, mastering the art of making straw hats and accessories the traditional and also innovative way. The artisans were able to engage the audience. Some LAO’s friends and former students were also were there and all gathered together for a final toast at the end of the day.

The Master Craftsmen at the courtyard

The Master Craftsmen at the courtyard

LAO 30° Anniversary
LAO took advantage of the Florence Jewelry Week to celebrate its 30th anniversary. On June 1, the jewellery academy organized a meeting between students and alumni of different generations and from different parts of the world who remained emotionally attached to the school and the city of Florence. They participated at the “brain-storming” discussion that included cultural exchanges through the stories of the participants’ professional experiences in different countries, an opportunity to launch the creation of the "international network of exchange and collaboration" among LAO’s former students. The meeting was very productive and it was also exciting to see so many students that wanted to be present for this occasion.

Former students of LAO meeting

From May 31 to June 2, Philip Sajet and Xavier Monclús, the two artists that have exhibited at the Fondazione Salvatore Romano, were invited to teach a three-day workshop. There were young goldsmiths who wanted to deepen their knowledge, a group of Indian students of the Gautam Banerjee school in Mumbai, who especially came to Florence for the first time for a full immersion in the Jewellery Week, and LAO students. At the end of the three days, all the participants received a diploma for the Sajet’s workshop "Please, no diamonds today" and for the Monclús’ "Objet trouvé". While Sajet asked to realize rings without using precious stones or cut stones, Monclùs encouraged to work with materials and objects found in the street. In only three days of work, the students presented their jewelry pieces.

Workshop by Xavier Monclús

Student at the workshop

Student at the workshop