I do not make my jewellery with someone particular in mind, I make it because I simply feel the urge to do it. Floor Max interviewed by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 05.09.2019
Floor Max Floor Max
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:
Floor Max. Pendant: Chartres, 2015. Silver, Copper, Textile. 60 x 15 x 2 cm. Photo by: F.Max. From series: HEXAGON. Floor Max
Pendant: Chartres, 2015
Silver, Copper, Textile
60 x 15 x 2 cm
Photo by: F.Max
From series: HEXAGON
© By the author. Read Copyright.

Although most of my pieces are wearable, I don’t think it is an absolute must. And above that, it is a very personal issue; What I wear, can be impossible to wear for you. For me, however, there should always be a relation to the human body, either physical or in concept.
What's local and universal in your artistic work?
I find most inspiration in my daily life, which I spend in Holland. The surroundings have a great influence on my work. The clarity of the light, the different plants that grow here, the wide open landscapes, a sober and clear way of thinking, but also our history and our famous painters. The first time I saw the work of Karel Appel was in The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam when I was 10 years old.  I was struck by it. The raw power of the painting, the mere colours and the expression of his work, wanted me to see it again and again. At that moment I realized that making things could be a profession, something you do with your life…There is also a longstanding tradition of modern- and art-jewelry in the Netherlands. We have several art schools and galleries specialized in jewellery. I want to mention gallery Ra in Amsterdam, where I have presented my new collections since I started as a jeweller. For over 40 years Paul Derrez has shown the latest developments in modern jewellery from all over the world. (  So it is clear that the local is not only in my artistic work but also in the path that lead me to becoming an artist.
At the same time, my jewellery expresses universal values, such as the joy of making, the importance of freedom in thinking and being, a search for the unexpected and the love for craftwork. When I travel either in the real or digital, I feel connected to the World, I meet people with different and the same values. I see different kinds of architecture, history, plants and food, I like that a lot. Because I discovered that underneath these differences lie many similarities.

What do you expect when you show your work to the public (for example, with an exhibition)?
I am always nervous but also curious about the reactions of the public when I show a new collection. After taking it public, it is out of my hands. Because this is also the purpose of exhibiting my work, it is alright. It always takes me a long time to produce a new collection. For a year or so I work in my own atelier, a solitary process. Intimate, precious and delicate with myself as the only critic. I don’t make my jewellery with someone particular in mind, I make it simply because I feel the urge to do it……I always hope that people react to my work, that they like it, think it’s strange or funny, or tell me that they have to get used to it. However, the best compliment I can get is people buying and wearing my jewellery.

How important is handmade for you in your development? What role does technics and technology play in your development?​
All my jewellery is handmade. I developed my own techniques, as I was not officially educated as a goldsmith. Instead, I was trained at Art school to be a professional artist and designer. It focussed more on concepts, ideas and form than technique. During and after my time at school I took lessons from different goldsmiths to learn the essentials and make them my own In the eyes of some I still do everything wrong ;-)However, the thing that was most important for my development was the fact that I became a jewellery teacher for amateurs. By doing so, I learned a lot because I always had to stay one step ahead of the program I was teaching them.….After that, I had really mastered the usual goldsmith techniques which I now often combine with techniques that are traditionally used for textiles, like sewing, weaving and knitting.

When you start making a new piece what is your process? How much of it is a pre formulated plan and how much do you let the material spontaneity lead you?​
The start of a new piece or collection is often diffused, but there is always something small that triggers me. Most of the time  ’this is a ‘logical system’ or construction that I see in a plant or building. I try to explore this logical ‘thing’, but it starts off vaguely. Another thing that happens a lot is that I find something by coincidence while working on a different project. But above that all, the plan starts and develops slowly and not in straight lines. The art is identifying the treasures you find on the way. To be capable of changing your plan when something better comes along. Looking for the essence of things is what leads me, content matters. I always want to surprise myself and explore new materials and ways of working with them. Now, after 30 years of making jewellery, I found that I have a preference for silver, pearls, paper, textile, stones and glass. I like to combine the materials while working all of them in a different manner.

Are there any other areas besides the jewels present in your work?
Besides making jewels, I also produce prints. I worked at an offset-print shop for several years and I also did silk-screening. Nowadays I love to print by hand, making my own stamps and linocuts. The smell of printing ink in an ancient print shop makes me nostalgic. In my younger years I studied educational science and after graduating from Art Academy, I started combining those two disciplines. I did this by working with young children in a Reggio Emilian way. I work for a foundation that conducts practical research about the similarity between the ways young children learn and the strategies that are used by artists.

How important is wearability in contemporary jewellery? And in your pieces?
Wearability;  Although most of my pieces are wearable, I don’t think it is an absolute must. And above that, it is a very personal issue; What I wear, can be impossible for you to wear. However, for me,  there should always be a relation to the human body, either physical or in concept. Besides, there is an ongoing discussion in the jewellery discourse; is the work an object or a piece of jewellery? There is no clear line because as long as it is a strong piece, that somehow relates to the human body, it does not matter how you call it.

The last work, book, film, city that moved me was...
My all time favourite movie is Down by law by Jim Jarmusch with music from Tom Waits. Whenever I need cheering up, I put this film on. The last film that really struck me was the Oscar winning movie Roma. Now that I’m writing this I realize that they’re both filmed in black/white. I like that a lot, I can concentrate better on the story as there is less distraction. Amsterdam, Gent, Barcelona and Bremen are all cities I love. All of them come with a diversity of people and cultures. Additionally, they all have a nice social climate. Nowadays Amsterdam and Barcelona are overflowing with tourists. To avoid the crowd you have to carefully plan where you want to (not) go. Even if you avoid the touristic highlights there are more than enough things to enjoy.
The last exhibition I visited was a few weeks ago. It showed botanical drawings by Franz and Ferdinand Bauer in the Teylers Museum, Haarlem. It was very detailed, drawn with extreme precision, colourful and beautiful. Fantastic!

What/who is the biggest influence in your career?
My biggest inspiration is my parents. They always encourage me to do what I like most and to not give up. My mother (83) is a big fan and often wears my jewellery while my father(86) has taught me how to cope with criticism.

Which piece of work gave you more satisfaction?
Being in my studio, working on new pieces always gives me the most satisfaction. But that is also a lonely practice. Therefore, I also like working with colleagues. Together with HSC, Haarlems Sieraad Collectief, we organize exhibitions in which we combine cultural heritage with modern jewellery. ( )

What is your source to get information?
There are many sources from which I get my information. For example, talking and working with colleagues, visiting exhibitions in museums and galleries, reading papers and magazines, visiting internet fora and lastly being a Klimt02 member of course!  I’m open to all kinds of information, I always keep looking around, both in my own surroundings and further away.

Considering the experiences you have had over the years - if you could go back and give yourself a piece of advice for the start-up phase, what would that be?
I don’t know, everyone has to find their own way of discovering the World. All that I did, all the mistakes I made, have lead me to this point in life. So please make your own mistakes, try working with different people, do what you like and what you’re good at. Trust your own feelings and judgements and believe in yourself. At the same time don’t hesitate to ask for advice or help for the things you know you’re not good at…….Stay open-minded, play with thoughts, concepts and materials, turn them up&down and inside out. Learn every day!

Can you describe your personality in 3 words, describe your work in 3 words.
Describing myself in 3 words is an impossible task for a complex, high-sensitive (haha two already) person like me….. Now that I’m left with only one more word  I have to choose between, curious, serious, playful, thinking logical, responsible, cooperative, decisive, cheerful  and so on….Life is complex, so am I.
Even if sometimes my work may look simple, what you see is the result of a complex process of discovering, thinking, playing, doing, experimenting, making mistakes and…… making choices.
Floor Max. Necklace: Blom, 2019. Silver, fresh pearl, colored stone.. 35 x 35 x 3 cm. Floor Max
Necklace: Blom, 2019
Silver, fresh pearl, colored stone.
35 x 35 x 3 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Floor Max. Necklace: Granada, 2015. Silver, copper, handprinted felt.. 55 x 20 x 2 cm. Photo by: F.Max. From series: HEXAGON. Floor Max
Necklace: Granada, 2015
Silver, copper, handprinted felt.
55 x 20 x 2 cm
Photo by: F.Max
From series: HEXAGON
© By the author. Read Copyright.