When Contemporary Jewellery Encounters the Fashion Store.

Published: 08.04.2018
When Contemporary Jewellery Encounters the Fashion Store..
Yuxi Sun
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:
From left to right: Selfie-ism at Hier Studio; Die Drei at Galerie Artefakt; Trippen at Trippen..
From left to right: Selfie-ism at Hier Studio; Die Drei at Galerie Artefakt; Trippen at Trippen.

© By the author. Read Copyright.

There were about 100 exhibitions running during the Munich Jewellery Week. The majority of exhibitions I had gone to were interesting at some point, but they were all still displayed and set as a normal exhibition - pieces were shown in gallery or museum.
From this review, I would like to share three exhibitions which differed from those exhibited in the traditional gallery or individual space. Art jewellery moved into independent fashion designer’ stores. This could be a new trend, but is it really a positive tendency for art jewellery?

中文版 - Chinese version      View / hide description

Compared with the independent exhibiting space, what is the advantage of the fashion designer store for jewellery artists?
Firstly, a very important reason - price!

During the Munich Jewellery Week, the cost of an appropriate gallery space for the exhibition was between 1000 € to 2000 € daily. Some graduates or students might receive support from their schools, or the group exhibition might share the rent, but the rental fee for the majority of individual artists, especially emerging artist, was out of reach. If jewellery artists choose to exhibit in a designer fashion store, there is actually a promotion cooperation between artists and store owners, so there is normally a discount for artists to rent the space in the fashion store. Sometime fashion shops may take commission from each selling piece, and they will lend the space to jewellery artists for free in return.

The second point is about the connection between art jewellery and life.
Just as most of the independent fashion designer, jewellery artists are also interested in putting the jewellery pieces back to life context, promoting their design and aesthetics to consumers. Art jewellery is not only some art piece behind glass in the museum, they can also rest at individuals’ home, representing owners’ personal interest, or be a memorable object or a daily wear piece, speaking for the owner. Someone may argue that clothes are the necessity but jewellery is not. If we follow this logic, we could as well that designed clothes are not a necessity either because the basic function of clothes is just for covering the body and warming it. So if we agree that designed clothes are necessary for people to express their life attitude, then art jewellery can also represent the personal character.

Surely, moving into fashion store is not 100% positive solution for jewellery artists. Let’s have a close look at jewellery in fashion stores during MJW18 together.

Exhibition 1: Selfie-ism, exhibited at Hier Studio, address: Innere Wiener Str.24.
Selfie-ism was given by 6 British base jewellery designers, and they are Rachael Colley, Sally Collins, Sarah Kelly, Rahel Pfrommer, Sabine Roth and Sari Räthel. The exhibition explored what selfies’ meaning related to gender, ethnicity, class and age through jewellery.

Hier Studio, Image from the internet.

Hier Studio is a shop for local designers to show their works. The style of the designs in the shop are variety since they are from different designers, but most are simple yet modern cuts with thoughtful details served on a plain shade pallet. This was a comfortable display way. The high ceiling, mottled and decoration free walls, and the plants everywhere make the store a comfortable place. The minimal industrial style of hangers and furniture gave designers space to present their pieces as much as possible.
When I entered the store, the first thing came into my sight were self-made display tables and pieces brought from the UK.

The theme of the exhibition was Selfie-ism, so the display board and the baffle on two sides were made of mirrors. Looking through the mirror, I could see endless self-images in one line of mirrors. It was interesting and surprising to find out this effect by accident. One of the designers, Sabine Roth said to me: This is exactly we would like to see, please remember to hashtag us if you take a selfie and post on Instagram. Sabine Roth was also the curator of the exhibition. The owner of the Hier Studio was a friend she made with during her stay in Munich a few years ago, and this store was one of her favourite independent designer shops at that time. The reason she chose to do the exhibition here was not only because the owner was her friend, but also, she appreciated the vibe of this shop. The colour of the self-made display board matched with the wall colour, and there were no conflicts between jewellery and clothes. The mirror table enhanced the pieces by showing two sides of the piece and they also deepened the sense of space of the shop. If I did not know there was an exhibition here in advance, I probably would think this collection was a part of the store. There was such an excellent balance between one-off jewellery pieces and fashion items.  What's more notable was that the jewellery showcases were set at the entrance, so that no one could miss it, from which we could see how much trust and respect Hier Studio gave to artists and their work.

Pieces by Rachael Colley.

Headpiece by Sabine Roth.

Brooch by Rahel Pfrommer.

Earrings by Sally 

Body piece by Sari Räthel.

Exhibition 2: Die Drei: Drill – Cut – Grind, exhibited at Galerie Artefakt, address: Hans Sachs Strasse 13.
The exhibition was shown at Galerie Artefakt which was a mixed place functioning as gallery and shop. This place displayed and sold handmade jewellery and other fashion objects. 

The display window during normal days.

They sell all hand dyed clothes.

Die Drei was grouped by three recent graduates from Trier University of Applied Science, Idar-Oberstein campus, they were Denise Ebert, Pia Groh and Julia Obermaier. Drill - Cut - Grind. The stone was interpreted as material in three different ways. The three female jewellery artists used the stone to present their artistic language and a new way of defining jewellery and handling gems.

Window display of Die Drei during the MJW18.

Denise Ebert. Necklace: Boobies, 2017. Rose quartz, Lava, shrinking tube, silver. Photo by: Nima Ashrafi.

Pia Groh. Necklace: N 7, 2017. Agate, oxidized silver. 6 x 5 x 23 cm.

Julia Obermaier. Necklace: Can you feel it? 2016. Rock crystal, silver, resin, pigment, paint. Photo by: Julia Obermaier.

Different for Hier Studio, Galerie Artefakt had limited space. The owner divided the long and narrow space into two parts, one for the jewellery at the entrance, and the other for normal displays. There was a row of show cupboards filled with hundreds of handmade jewellery pieces at the entrance and the counter was on the opposite side. There was only a cramped space between them, so if someone wanted to check the piece, it always seemed too crowded at the entrance.

The jewellery section at normal days.

The jewellery section during MJW18. Artist: Denise Ebert.

Just as images showed above, all the jewellery pieces were placed in this long cabinet. The heavy glass distanced the pieces from visitors, people could not touch or have a close look at the pieces without asking for the key from the shop assistant. This might be a conventional way of display for the gallery. In this way, the shop could make the best use of cabinets and guaranteed each artist had enough display space, but at the meantime, all the pieces were squeezed under the glass and were easy to be ignored because there was not enough lightning for them. If it were not for the artist standing next to the cabinet, I probably would not realise the jewellery section and go straight to the fashion section. There was a small garden at the end of the hallway and the colourful lively hand-dyed clothes there easily had all my attention.

Conversation with one of the artist Denise Ebert:
Q: How would you comment on the collaboration with the Galerie Artefakt during MJW18?
A: We appreciated the collaboration with the gallery Artefakt. They got in contact with us at the fair in Munich and liked our work. They gave us the opportunity to show our pieces. The contact with the gallerists was easy and polite. Because of the shows during “schmuck“ the years before it was a compliment for us to exhibit there. 

Q: Is there any change you would like to make if you ever will exhibit in a shop again? Or if you don't plan to exhibit in a shop again, would you mind telling us why?
A: We appreciated showing our work in a shop because we were free to decorate the window in the way we wanted and the exhibiting displays were nice and fitted with our colour concept. 
Also, the selling was easier and more professional in an already existed shop. 

Q: What's your concern when you decide to show your work in a fashion store? Did you solve your problems?
A: The fashion area and the jewellery area are very nicely separated in the gallery Artefakt. And both, the jewellery and the fashion pieces are very high quality, unique and handmade. 
I think it is nice to offer two kinds of 
Articles because maybe a customer will be looking for a nice dress and at the same time fall in love with a fitting jewellery piece.

Exhibition 3: Trippen, exhibited at Trippen, address: Türkenstrasse 92.
Trippen presented the work from Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp (hereinafter referred to RA) graduates in 2017. In the last two years, RA students exhibited their work in an individual space outside the core exhibition area during Munich., so students were excited about the movement in 2018.
The title of the exhibition in 2018 came directly from the shop/brand name Trippen (German, the plural form of Trippe, the word means geta). Trippen was established in 1990, because of its unique design, using excellent and sustainable material and exquisite craft, they grew fast - their shops, partner shops and retails now spread around the world. When I entered the Munich shop, I was attracted by the whole vibe immediately: The wall I faced was equally divided into the small squares for displaying shoes, and every single shoe on the shelf was lightened by one bulb. The recommending shoes were arranged in the area next to the window or on the display tables next to the sofas. Although most shoes were black, it was still easy to spot and memorise because of the unique design of each pair of shoes, especially the difference among designed heels, vamp and upper part.

Shoes, shoes, where are the jewelleries?
If you look around again and carefully, all works spread among shoes. Searching for them was like playing the hide and seek.

Pieces by Yijun Liu.

Piece by Dabin Lee.

If I do not know there was an exhibition here, I might think the jewellery pieces are the decorations to those designed shoes, only they were very special ones.
The shoes apparently overshadowed the jewellery pieces, though actually, the work from those emerging artists was as attractive as Trippen’s shoes. For example, Dabin Lee was an animal lover, especially for rabbits. Nowadays, for the sake of beauty and cosmetic industry, too many rabbits and other animals were sacrificed of animal test. Hence, Dabin made a series of object and jewellery pieces in rabbit shape to make her voice. Another example, Yijun Liu used Titanium as material and thus made necklace and bracelet. The design was flexible to fold as origami, and each part of the piece reflected different colour under the sun. Due to limited space for displaying, the structure of the shop, and the shop colour tone, graduates’ works were so dim compared with shoes. After all, the way of the display was interesting in a way(searching jewellery among the shoes was some sort of new experience), but for most visitors, they could avoid paying attention to shoes than jewellery pieces naturally. The display of shoes was so excellent that my fellow friend purchased two pairs of shoes immediately after 10 minutes we arrived in the shop.
Besides, the opening hours for the shop was strict, no matter whether the visitors were still willing to viewing the pieces or talking to the artists, the shop had to close when the time was off.

Students were not very happy with the arrangement. For example, potatoes series from Zeyun Chen, due to its design concept, she needed to scale the piece based on the daily gold price. The idea was too complicated for the shop, so they forced Zeyun to make a fixed price for each piece, so the idea behind the piece was completely lost in this case.
Contrary to some students’ disappointment, Trippen was excited about the collaboration, and the manager mentioned that they would like to cross the RA students and their pieces every year during the MJW. Why? Because the RA students’ work from RA were could make their shoes look even better.

Conversation with one of the artist Dabin Lee:
Q: How would you comment on the collaboration with the Trippen during MJW18?
A: It was definitely a great experience to do an exhibition at Trippen during MJW18. Firstly it was a great location and not a typical exhibition space it made people think and made our work a bit special and also helped us to think about matching with other non-jewellery pieces and colors

Q: Is there any change you would like to make if you ever will exhibit in a shop again? Or if you don't plan to exhibit in a shop again, would you mind telling us why?
A:  I would definitely recommend and also for myself I would like to do again an exhibition at the shop or different places it doesn’t have to be a gallery or typical white space. 
I wouldn’t change anything in the shop or display but I would make some note for people to follow that they won’t miss any pieces! 

Q: What's your concern when you decide to show your work in a fashion store? Did you solve your problems?
A: At Trippen we had to exhibit with all different kinds of shoes and I think shoes and clothes are always related with accessories like jewellery so it was really nice to see them together even though it’s not a same collection or colors. In this way, we could show to the other people who don’t know about contemporary jewellery or who is not aware of it.
Trying new things are always fun things to do! 

Conversation with one of the artist Zeyun Chen:
Q: How would you comment on the collaboration with the Trippen during MJW18?
A: I like the location of Trippen shop, and the shop assistant from the shoe shop was friendly.

Q: Is there any change you would like to make if you ever will exhibit in a shop again? Or if you don't plan to exhibit in a shop again, would you mind telling us why?
A:Maybe the way of display. The Jewellery piece was so tiny compared with the shoes. Putting one jewellery piece with one shoe was not a good idea. The shoes in the shop were super nice. Lots of customers came to see the shoes instead of our jewellery exhibition. Even some customers would arrive and check the map again outside the shop to ensure they found the right place for jewellery exhibition. If next year we still exhibit there. I hope we could have enough space to put all our pieces together rather than spreading them everywhere.

Q:What's your concern when you decide to show your work in a fashion store? Did you solve your problems?
A:I do not know why they did not give us separate space. When I went to the shop,my classmate only took out two of my pieces for the exhibition. I felt I could not find my pieces in the shop easily. I wanted to take out one more piece from my storeroom for the exhibition but there was not enough space in the shop at all. I think next year we need to discuss with the shop about display if we will still have the collaboration with Trippen. Our pieces and their shoes should be shown in a different way.

Conversation with the manager of the Trippen store in Munich:
Q:  What's the most interesting thing for you to have the RA group in Trippen?
A:Our visitors and customers enjoyed the exhibition a lot. It was very exciting to showcase the fantastic work and the results of the creative experiments of the Antwerp jewellery class in our store. Creativity and design are also crucial elements in the work of our company. The event was a fantastic win-win situation for the graduates as well as for us. We are very happy with a throughout positive feedback and look forward to the upcoming Jewellery Week 2019 and more collective events with our friends from Antwerp.

Q: Do you think the work from them fit into the vibe of the shop, and does this matter to you, why?
AThe exhibited works fitted perfectly with our shoes as well as the design of the store itself. The vibe was brilliant. All visitors were very interested and felt comfortable, long stays confirmed this impression. During these days, we were able to inform many people about our products and gained quite a few new customers. The displayed jewellery reflects a high level of creativity, which plays an important part also in the work our company, in addition to quality and sustainability.

After three cases, we can briefly understand the differences between showing the pieces in a shop and in a gallery space. There exists both advantages and disadvantages. In the shop, jewellery artists are more passive with less choice. The success of the exhibition totally depends on the lightning, space structure, overall style of the shop and the communication with the owner. As a result of the limited financial situation, jewellery artists cannot reach every aspect of a matter, so it requests artists to spend more time and effort on research to make their exhibition as good as possible, and surely, they have to undertake the potential losses and risks. Normally there is not much text explanation for art pieces in the shop, which means artist should be involved more to the conversation with the customers and visitors about their pieces, and yes, just like a salesman promoting their products.

About the author

Yuxi Sun completed her Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2015. She is undertaking her Master of Fine arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein till 2018. She made an internship at Klimt02 in 2017, where she is working since 2018.