There has been a cultural shift in the use of traditional materials, focusing on sustainability by using waste materials. Interview with Johannes Kuhnen by Klimt02
Interview / Artists
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At this stage of my career, having embraced the early days of digital design and manufacturing I prefer a bench-based practice with the occasional addition of digital generated cutouts to obtain a precision that is otherwise too time-consuming.
Tell us about your background. What were your first influences to be creative and become an artist and what has drawn you to contemporary jewellery?
After completing high school, I intended to go into industrial design, in Germany at that time, 1969, in order to apply one had to have a metal apprenticeship prior to enrolment in one of the design schools. By chance I visited an exhibition of emerging industrial designers and discovered that about half had general metal training and the others had goldsmith apprenticeships. My high school art teacher told me I should look up Friedrich Becker and I consequently applied and spend the next 31/2 years in his studio hooked on making jewellery and followed this up with tertiary studies at the Fachhochschule in Düsseldorf.
How important is networking for you in your professional practice and what are your preferred tools for this?
Networking is very important, but this has been hard recently with COVID and travel restrictions. Social networking online seems to be the preferred way these days and it is not really something I actively engage in. There is always so much to do living in the countryside and in my studio, so I don’t always get out to network these days.
What are your general thoughts on the contemporary jewellery world, (education, market, development...), where do you see chances and where are dead ends?
After spending 30 years in tertiary teaching of gold and silversmithing I have first hand experienced a total decline of the discipline both in quality of work and teaching time due to funding cuts. There has been a cultural shift in the use of traditional materials, focusing on sustainability by using waste materials. Questioning the significance of traditional and cultural outputs.
Thinking about your career, what role do technology and the digital play in your artistic development & communication?
At this stage of my career, having embraced the early days of digital design and manufacturing I prefer a bench-based practice with the occasional addition of digital generated cutouts to obtain a precision that is otherwise too time-consuming. It also values most of the material, reducing the overall waste.
How has your work changed over the past few years and what are you excited about these days?
I have changed my material preferences away from anodized aluminum to the use of titanium both in jewellery and tableware and in my spectacle frames as advances in joining technology made this possible. I sometimes will incorporate stone, typically sourced from the landscape and this can be traced back to works from 1985 and throughout my career.
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