How clear are you? Conversation with Hochschule Düsseldorf teachers, graduates and students.

Published: 02.04.2019
Yuxi Sun Yuxi Sun
Yuxi Sun
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Exhibition venue..
Exhibition venue.

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After visiting the exhibition Clear Curves during Munich Jewellery Week, I have shared with you the impression of my exhibition experience, find the exhibition review at - Clear Curves, Clear Vision. MJW2019 Exhibition Review.​ Meanwhile, I prepared some questions for the professor Jantje Fleischut, some graduates and students from HSD, the questions are about the school, course, future plan, the exhibition and curating. Let’s have a look together to know more about them.

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Four questions to Professor Jantje Fleischut:

1. What’s your criterion of selecting pieces for this special curated and organized exhibition? What’re the conditions?
Jantje Fleischut: The BA and MA degree program of the Applied Art and Design Department sees its strength in the combination of technical, craft-based and artistic education. The focus is on the conceptual linking of different methods and strategies of both artistic and technical skills. In Düsseldorf, jewellery is illuminated in its entire range; from unique pieces over serial works and creations for the catwalk. An artistic examination of a theme or topic is always the starting point of the design process, but it can be implemented in various forms. The thinking in a serial application, as well as the realization of outstanding unique pieces, are equally applied side by side.
The department is headed by a team of two professors supported and complemented by diverse professionals of the field.
As a result, diverse emphases, knowledge and the broad spectrum of the jewelry field come together in the education; all facets of the field are taught to the students. Within their study, they detect and discover their own preferences and main focus.
The selection of pieces reflects the diversity of our program.
The exhibition shows unique pieces and serial works, analogue and digital elaborations or combinations next to each other.
A lot of students develop a collection of unique pieces next to serial work, they feel at home in both. Many experiments and prototypes in both areas are preceded by the items refined for sale.
An exhibition always puts an even stronger emphasis on a high-end finishing.
The students own craftsmanship together with the technical support of the teachers and the technical possibilities at the university make it possible.

2. I believe the result and feedback of this exhibition must be excellent. What’s your secret of making such a successful show?
Jantje Fleischut: Indeed we received a lot of good comments and very positive feedback to our presentation Clear Curves at Schlegelschmuck in Munich. As we all know are the negative comments usually not told directly.
I am not sure if we have a secret to making a show successfully. The opportunity to create an exhibition during Schmuck at this marvellous place of Katja Schlegel put together a very energetic and motivated team of students and staff.
Next to the Applied Art and Design Department, the faculty of Design in Düsseldorf contains the study program Communication Design and Exhibition design. The various courses of study work general interdisciplinary and especially with these two, we always have a vivid exchange and good cooperation.
A former student of the Exhibition Design program was part of our team and worked with a group of students from our department to develop the concept of the exhibition. There were many brainstorm sessions; discussions to collected and compiled, what is important for each individual and what the University of Dusseldorf stands for. These parameters were tested, refined and finally applied. The final exhibition concept was supported by a tutor and student of photography, as well as by a student of communication design for all prints. All participants of the different disciplines were in a constant exchange. I think it is a lot about teamwork which pools the richness of the different expertise to a satisfying result.
However, the first CLEAR CURVE presentation took place two weeks before the IHM/SCHMUCK, also in Munich in the fair all at the Inhorgenta.
Experience and a growing environmental awareness among students strengthened the initiative not to build a complete booth for the Inhorgenta, but to rent elements and thus produce less waste.
The structure for the fair booth is, of course, different to an exhibition in a gallery, but the tenor is the same and the main elements were adaptable to both shows.
Whereas at the fair booth 10 illuminated water tanks formed the exhibition system and provide a presence in a huge exhibition hall surrounded by more classical jewellery booths, the gallery needs a different treatment. For the group, it was very nice to experience the difference in how to gain a presence within two formats.
The floor becomes a very important role in both shows, it serves as extra informational level. The jewelry and the information of the pieces of jewelry were drawn on different layers. As a result, the pieces were not disturbed by small name cards. The visitor must constantly refocus his gaze and switch between the floor and the display; close, far, small, big.
The floor is included as information level in the exposition and completes a graphical image.
Of course, you do not need ten water containers in the gallery because the showcases serve as an exhibition space for the pieces of jewelry. Only one illuminated water tank serves as a display for the donation brooch jointly developed and produced by the students.

3. How do you define the relationship between the visitor/audience and artist. Do you think there is an interaction between these two sides or it's one-way direction or...?
Jantje Fleischut: For sure there is an interaction between the maker and the wearer. There are pieces that immediately speak to the visitor, you fall in love with a piece, the form, the material, the shine, the colour, … and you do not need any explanation at all. That happens.
But if the artist is present and explains the background, making process and material of a piece the audience gets a more detailed insight of her/his work and philosophy.

4. What’s the specialty of the HSD? What does HSD bring to student directly?
Jantje Fleischut: The program of the Applied Art and Design Department in Düsseldorf/HSD is wide.
Jewelery, objects and products are developed next to each other in the courses. It is the assignment, topic and theme which is the common starting point for the student, not the defined result.  Each student can try out different mediums and can work in his/her favourite medium. This can vary. You can develop products as well as jewellery and objects in one course and during your study. The mix of disciplines lead to innovative approaches and details are examined closely, solutions are illuminated from different angles.
A bunch of diverse knowledge and backgrounds get together, meet in discussions, share visions and fascinations. Everyone brings their own expertise in a craft, for example, carpenter, goldsmith, dentist, tailor or blacksmith – just to mention a few.
As a staff we are interested to bring the students in touch with all different and diverse facets of the field, to show them possibilities from the one and the other and combinations. During their studies, they detect and discover their own preferences and main focus. The education opens various possibilities after graduation; some start their own business, some work as a designer for a company or small brand.

HSD workshop.

Four questions to HSD graduates:

1. While you were studying at HSD, what’s the speciality of HSD in your opinion? What you have gained the most from your study time?

Haya Kim: For me, HSD was more in between author jewelry and serial jewelry. HSD students are making not only for author jewelry but also for serial jewelry. This means that you can study freely at the HSD, what you want. I could learn both sides and consider both sides. That was something special from HSD.

Karin Maisch: I think studying Applied Art and Design at HSD has many different qualities and a wide range of possibilities, which gave me, as a student the freedom to develop skills in many different disciplines:
HSD combines modern technologies as 3D printing and scanning with traditional crafts. You get support in both fields and you are always supported in finding the best method for your task or finding new ways of working in combining both. This way of teaching invites you as a student to develop your own style and way of working instead of applying something that just fits for your teachers.
The size and structure of HSD offer a lot of opportunities for collaborations with other disciplines. You can visit classes in communication design and learn something about typography or photography or maybe exhibitions design or even furniture design or architecture. Or you search for a project you can realize together with students from the other departments. Which is mostly very benefiting for both sides.

Beru Inou: I spend almost the study time with glass and ceramic kiln, and also with cutting machine.
I think you can do at HSD as you like. You can design, but you can also do handicrafts. You can experiment and find what interests you. That helps you after graduation.

Mansuo Zhu: The freedom and workshops. During my study, I have completed many different projects and accumulated many exhibition experience.

Tereza Duskova: The most significant at HSD for me, as I came to stay just for one semester as an exchange student originally. The atmosphere here was amazed me - how relaxed professors and students can work together and develop own creative skills, without the need of the strictly structured hierarchy, as I was used to from my previous study experiences. It was the main aspect which made me to stay longer and later to change my university and continue in my study at HSD already as a regular student.
I'm happy I had the opportunity to meet prof. Herman Hermsen who taught me that “Everything is possible.” and prof. Elisabeth Holder who can ask important and provoking questions to clarify my own attitude.
I got to know new materials and the best was that we had the opportunity to discover and work with them also practically in many different workshops. It was really enriching for my creative language and expression of my thoughts and ideas through jewellery.

2. While you were developing your series, what do you usually concern the most?

Hayan Kim: development of the concept and reflect.

Karin Maisch: There is always the difficulty to combine the urge of just doing what's inside your heart and a kind of pressure to make money and rethink what people would like and buy and then to find something you can produce for the reasonable price...

Beru Inou: Enjoy the materials, enjoy to make jewelry.

Mansuo Zhu: I work somewhere between design and art and uses them as a way of expressing the world around me.

Tereza Duskova: I'm mostly concentrated on my own little world in creating jewels. It is important that it makes sense to me and it's fun to work on it. If I can manage this for myself, I believe it could make sense and bring fun also to other people. I use the common life and its stories and my current experiences as the best inspiration which I transform into jewels.

3. How have you been since your graduation? Is there a big difference between where you are now and where you were going to be before you graduated?

Hayan Kim: not really. I always make jewelry and learning also! 

Karin Maisch: In my special case I planned to start with employment and then see if I can imagine for the future to work self-employed. But then everything ended up different and I got pregnant. I was very lucky to find a job that allows me to work in the field of jewelry – even as it is a very commercial way I never considered before – and have enough time for my children. Even though my days are quite packed, I try to be “visible” one or twice a year with my own jewelry and develop – quite slowly to be honest – new pieces. I recognized that I can't just pause for a few years, because making jewelry for me, is really something that starts in my heart. It was not possible to stop without being very unhappy...

Beru Inou: - There is no big difference. But I think about how do I manage the time to make my jewelry. Because I have to work for my living (currently I work for a jeweler as goldsmith).

Mansuo Zhu: I am taking a rest after all the graduation pressure.  I am now trying to do the plan so there is no plan before actually.

Tereza DuskovaI decided already during my study that to be an independent jewellery designer/artist is the best choice for myself. I was ready that it will not be easy, but the reality is a little bit rougher than my dreaming about it. It needs more time and patience than expected but I feel happy with my decision.

4. Have you been aware that your work is clean and has a clear, concise finish? How did you manage to do that? How do you highlight these ideas in your work? 

Hayan Kim:
I'm not sure if I understood the question correctly. But I can try it, so I do not do extra work to make it clean and clear. I want to make my voice clear in my work, so  I usually try many times during the experimentation process then I aim to decide and finish it in a short time. 

Karin Maisch: Isn't that something we all try - in our own way maybe? Everything else would be meaningless...
When I develop pieces I, of course, have a certain idea and picture in mind, and I try to work as long as reality and imagination come together. And sometimes this needs a lot of tryouts but sometimes it needs just some time to pass. But for me, it is also important that the finished piece allow room for the spectators’ own thoughts and imaginations so that my idea becomes just a starting point for individual pictures...

Beru Inou: In the process always comes a new idea, but I try that I do not forget the first idea.

Mansuo Zhu: I follow my passion and aesthetics.

Tereza Duskova: Kind of clean and clear finish came to me as something natural already at the beginning of my study (before HSD). Even though I was intentionally trying to make something really different, the satisfaction came only with the minimizing and abstracting of my wild/organic/diverse thoughts and ideas.

Exhibition venue, photo by Pei Wu.

3 questions to HSD current student:

1. Why did you choose to study at HSD?
Alessa Joosten: Before I started to study in HSD I was studying art with a focus on body related art. I visited the graduate shows of HSD a few times and was fascinated by the works of the students. It was a range of objects and jewellery from artistic to well designed, from experimental to well-crafted and elaborated concepts.

2. What is your plan after graduation? Where will you be? What will you be doing?
Alessa Joosten: I will graduate in summer 2019 and start my own business. I’m planning to have my own atelier and develop fresh clear jewellery. Less is more. That’s why high-quality designer jewellery is fitting to the attitude of buy-less-but-things-you-love-attitude which should counteract to the global consumerism. My designs should join the simple and the extraordinary – less to impress.
Body pieces are an interesting topic as well because jewellery, body and beauty are belonging so much together. I would love to cooperate with other designers, too. It’s always interesting to work together with other people because the background and design strategy differ from your own and this can broaden your horizon.
I’d like to stay in Düsseldorf because here is happening a lot of art and fashion events as well and I because of my study I was able to build a network of friendly designers and suppliers.
The time in HSD helped me a lot to prepare for my future. We often participated in fairs or exhibitions, were able to establish contacts and learned how to organize our shows.

3. Have you been aware that your work is clean and has a clear, concise finish? How did you manage to do that? How do you highlight these ideas in your work? 
Alessa Joosten: Often, the starting point of my works is to deal with a shape and form. The aesthetic value of the jewellery is formed by the handling of the material and the construction itself instead of decorative elements. Its formal language is simple and reduced to the essentials, but I always try to make sure that there is a certain poesy and sensuality in it. So, my jewellery is characterized by contrasts like reduced – sensual, sculptural – two-dimensional, eye-catching –modest.
But „simple" doesn’t necessarily refer to a simple production. Designing and testing takes time, several models are formed until they result in the final prototype. I am interested in simple but extraordinary connection techniques as folding, bending, cutting or clipping.

Additional Information:
From September 2019/next Summer semester the title Applied Art and Design of our department will change into New Craft Object Design.
The content will still be the same > jewellery object and product design.

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 finished her Master of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at the University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein in 2018. Meanwhile, she has been interning at Klimt02 since 2017.
Exhibition venue..
Exhibition venue.

© By the author. Read Copyright.