Interview with Astrid Berens, co-founder of SIERAAD

Interview  /  BehindTheScenes
Published: 22.07.2015
Interview with Astrid Berens, co-founder of SIERAAD.
Sabela Correa
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Each year is a challenge, to have a fair which is worth visiting.
This will be the 14th edition of SIERAAD Art Fair, it should be a long way untill now. How were the beginnings of the Fair? 
The adventure began 10 years ago, when Astrid Berens and Maarten Bodt started with a modest platform for contemporary jewellery in an indoor tennis court with the aim artists could sell their work to the public themselves.
In 2006 we started to being totally dedicated to SIERAAD, based in Amsterdam. For the participants this results in an increase in sales of 33%. And many many more visitors. The first anniversary of the fair was celebrated with the launch of some new traditions: the thematic international design contest New Traditional Jewellery and presentations by the jewellery design sections of international art academies.
Since 2008 the Fair takes place in a Gasholder on the Westergasterrein: our Jewellery Art Fair in a jewel of a building. Participants, there are well over 70 stands, are inspired by the hall, literally and figuratively, in the way the stands are fitted up more beautifully every time.
 Astrid Berens and Maarten Bodt, founders of Sieraad. Photo by Arjen Veldt.

Coming back to the present, which are the challenges for this year?
Each year is a challenge, to have a fair which is worth visiting, we want people to be surprised to get motivated to buy. There are three groups visiting SIERAAD: the visitors; over 6800-7400 loving jewellery consumers. The professionals, the business contacts and people from the cultural world (galerists, shops) and the press, stylists, journalists... etc.

What should expect a visitor for the first time ever? To be surprised about the different kind of jewellery possible.

Could you recommend us something we shouldn’t miss  this year at SIERAAD Art Fair?
We have a few stands with groups of designers, one of them will be the Greek stand; In accordance to the present mayor economic crisis in Greece, the displays at ‘Myths 2015’ were made of cardboard-boxes, wood, tinfoil and fluorescent tubes. Loukia Richards, one of the members, has said this is a time for them to be modest.
The Taiwanese jewellers united in Bench 886 will convert one wall according to the sushi-belt-principle: covered with little bags with jewellery for 3 different but very affordable prices. Take (it) away so to speak! 
Of course we have as always many young designers who left school no more 3 years ago.

What do you think about the actual state of jewellery?
We think there’s a lot of difference in countries like The Netherlands, Germany, England, Belgium and so on….We see some really renewing pieces and we see so much which has already been done (like in all other branches as well).

What do you think about the new emerging jewellery designers. What recommendation would you give to a young enthusiastic beginner?
Maybe you have to ask yourself a few questions like where you can show your work, the possibilities you have after the graduation and how you can promote it and make it visible. Try always to improve yourself. Don’t be afraid of making long hours, nothing will come without hard work and investing. Make a small business plan, you are a professional! 
Be clever at prizing your work: How many pieces do you need to sell to make a little profit? Then translate that in quantities of people that subsequently need to see your work... this quantity is able to sustain you, it’s called critical mass and it’s a changing, disloyal group of people and so on. We think you need to make pieces everybody will talk about (with lots of wow factors, novelties, etc) with those pieces you will get attention.Be present on the web: Communicates in your blog or website why you make a piece. Show some images or footage of the process, it adds value.
Your work and presence are investment for your public relations, interact with the public: show your work on an renowed Jewellery Art Fairs like SIERAAD.

Photo by Arjen Veldt.
Continuing to the previous question, SIERAAD organized a competition called New Traditional Jewellery both for students and profesionals. Last year the thema selected was Confrontations. What is NTJ going to be about next year?
New Traditional Jewellery, NTJ, is a bi annual competition. So we will have another one in 2016. We do not have the theme of next year yet. Keep informed here.

This year besides the work showed at the Fair, the visitors could appreciate also the Embrance Exhibition, what could you tell us about it?  
To commemorate the 35 years of the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation, SIERAAD will host a unique jubilee exhibition, the 5th – 8th November, called EMBRANCE and curated by Liesbeth den Besten.
Since 1980 the Foundation has acquired jewellery and other objects from winners of the bi-annual Françoise van den Bosch Prize, additional work by Françoise (donated by her family), trophies designed for the Foundation and, since 1997, work by other young talented artists. The Françoise van den Bosch Collection is represented by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Photo by Arjen Veldt.