The Never Ending Passion: Interview with Mirjam Jakubowski and René Vlasblom

4 years ago

In the early nineties, the goldsmiths Mirjam Jakubowski and René Vlasblom met each other. They worked as goldsmiths for many years before they founded the brand and studio together in 2000, with the belief of creating exceptional beauty. After that, their first creations MAYESTIC MUSE became an instant success. They annually exhibit their latest collection at the Jewellery Art Fair (SAF) in Amsterdam.

OGP:"here, in my own words and as I remember them, are my cherished stories about a lifetime of fun and love and laughter… I've never thought of my jewelry as trophies. I'm here to take care of it and to love it, for we are only temporary custodians of beauty." American actress, Elizabeth Taylor, was an avid Jewelry Collector, may very well be the most influential fashion icon in the jewelry world. Her vast collection of fine jewelry purchased by herself and given to her jewelry autobiography My Love Affair With Jewelry that came out in 2002. Throughout history, many of people were legendary female figures from the ruling class and notable fashion icons of all times, their love for jewelry was so intense that it was undoubtedly an infatuation. Including Empress Dowager Cixi of China, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, Duchess of Windsor, Lily Safra, wife of the famous Chinese diplomat V.K.Wellington Koo, Princess Salimah Aga Khan, Countess of Snowdon and so on. Jewelry are the ultimate in glitz and have been described as fragments of stars, or like tears of the gods. Such as the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, her jewels were unique for the record price they sold, The sale of 300 of the Duchess’s personal items and jewelry in 1987 raised $45.7 million, which was donated to France’s Pasteur Institute at the Duchess’s bequest. The Cartier Flamingo Brooch, highlighted as one of the most sought after pieces, has become emblematic as the greatest of 20th century jewels, and because they grew out of the most controversial love story of modern times. Today we are very pleased with Mirjam & René who are jewelry designers from the VES (Jewelry Designer Association) and BNO (Dutch Designers Association) to talk about jewelry. Could you tell us about your professional background?

Mirjam & René:We are also very pleased to be able to discuss with you. René grew up as a real city boy in Rotterdam and Mirjam grew up in a quiet province in the east of the Netherlands. René knew at a very young age that he would design jewelry, because that was his childhood dream; Mirjam knew very early that she should be doing Fine Art. From the academy to being goldsmith, the academy for visual arts, educational powers... together we have a lot of knowledge and both of us have a Master Sign with which we give each individual design our signature. How we got to know each other is a classic example of Master (René) and student (Mirjam). René taught Free Design and Mirjam sought a degree in the subject. There was a "match" in the arts and after some time we decided to share a workshop together. From Day one, this had been proved to be a right choice. We share the fascination for editing special materials, we keep each other focused and we reinforce each other. As jewelry designers, we have long been in the VES (Association for Jewelry Designers) and later the BNO (Bond Dutch Designers). Our clientele consists of governments, business and the private sector. Business gifts in which the municipality reflects itself views, applied to awards for a national bank and an exclusive jewelry line for the Foundation Mode with a Mission are some examples of assignments. We present lectures, presentations and workshops and exhibition in galleries and museums at home and abroad (England, Germany, Lithuania, Belgium, and France).For fifteen years, we have presented our latest collection at the prestigious SAF (Jewelry Art Fair) in Amsterdam, an unique and international platform for contemporary jewelry designers and their wearers. Our own jewelry label Casjèh is being marketed and sold in the Netherlands.

OGP:Traditionally jewels were seen as sacred and precious for creating ornamental wares to demonstrate wealth, position, or power. This is one of civilization’s earliest forms of decoration, tracing back at least seven thousand years to the oldest known human societies, from the simple bead work of ancient times to the sophisticated metalworking and gem cutting known in the modern day. However, notably beginning in the 1900s, jewelry had started to be objectified. Throughout the twentieth century jewellry design underwent drastic and continual style changes: Art Nouveau (1900-1918), Art Deco (1919-1929), International Style & organicism (1929-1946), New Look & Pop (1947-1967), Globalization, Materialism, and Minimalism. Jewelry design trends are highly affected by the economic and social states of the time. There are more than thousands of jewelry designers around the world and they are providing most creative and dazzling jewels for us, Such as Graff, Mikimoto, Bulgari, Chopard, Tiffany, Buccellati, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston and Cartier. What makes your designs unique and different from others? Any special work craft or technique used during procession?

Mirjam & René:Our design styles can sometimes be very different and sometimes be very similar. We certainly have organic design with a clear link to classic beauty and a conceptual approach. Where René is more a builder with a slight mathematical feature, Mirjam is more Baroque and lush in her design. Both signatures united delivers unique design. Sculptural work done in precious metals with an exciting game of shape, texture and refinement. Above all, we focus on designing jewelry with a high artistic value (originality and expressiveness). Within the design process, we both give as much input to a design. We always make a sketch model and this is a labour-intensive process... all the focus is on design and technique. Only at full satisfaction we will proceed to the final implementation.

OGP:Organic Design was pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright who believed in creating harmony between people and nature and regarded architecture as a means of achieving a perfect balance between the manmade and natural worlds. The beginning of the 1930s there came a drastic change in the approach to design and the emergence of new visual languages that contrasted with the ideals of the Modern Movement. The Scandinavian design became world leader and a benchmark for other countries around the World. This approach to design was introduced to the USA by Eliel Saarinen and influenced a new generation of designers including George Nelson, Charles Eames, Isamu Noguci… moreover,Ron Arad, Luigi Colani, Massimo Iosa Ghini, Ross Lovegrove, and Philippe Starck are clearly influenced by organic design. Undulating lines, dynamic curves, and powerful arches stand in contrast to the geometric, functional style as represented by functionalism. This belief was expressed by the use of natural materials and smooth rounded forms. Is there anyone who has influenced your art and designs?

Mirjam & René:One of our great examples and inspirers is Alexander Calder(1*). We admire his self-esteem approach to working with metal and his organic appearance. We deeply respect the monumental appearance of his works of art and we enjoy the fact that the little boy in him remained alive. With very high accuracy, he continued playing with wire and plate! Deviating from the beaten paths and searching for their way... we feel related. For his wife, he designed a series of jewelry that are seemingly laconically shaped. Nothing is less true! Upon further examination you will see his workmanship. We make a deep bow to this great master in the arts.

OGP:Alexander Calder was an American sculptor known as the originator of the mobile, a type of moving sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended shapes that move in response to touch or air currents.He has outstanding talent with extraordinary achievement makes us appreciate him more. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, even as Calder’s works were still not highly sought after, his international acclaim was growing. His work is in many permanent collections across the world. The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, has the largest body of work by Alexander Calder. We remember that Calder’s 7 1/2-foot-long hanging mobile Poisson volant (Flying Fish) (1957) fetched $25.9 million, setting an auction record for the sculptor at Christie's New York in 2014. What type of themes are you exploring? 

Mirjam & René:Theme Border Shapes: Borders of countries, counties and / or municipalities are often very interesting to see and to process in jewelry design. For example, a beautiful necklace emerged by linking the bounds of Formula 1 race circuits. A very special necklace for a big formula 1 fan. More interesting, theme GUSTAV KLIMT(2*): Beautiful brooches, necklaces and rings are inspired by his paintings, especially on his free approach to ornamentation. And OPEN CURTAINS: In honour of 25 years fall of the wall of East and West Germany. With the fall of the wall there was an end to the iron curtain. Literally the curtains were translated into brooches and medallions. Moreover, oriental jewelry is famous for the delicateness and complication and gorgeousness, they intrigues us a lot. The sophisticated design shows craftsmanship. It is related to different worldly art styles, and the lushness of the designs radiates warmth and intelligence. This oriental design style is close to us and it is not absolutely unthinkable that we will be more involved in the near future.

OGP:Nobody is perfect. People meet and associate with each other in order to complement each other. You know when I heard Formula 1 race and Gustav Klimt, I had to say that was a very different style, just like two of you. In fact, we' d much prefer Gustav Klimt's paintings. He was seen as an artist who was far ahead of his time, the 'Golden Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and success. Although his work was not widely accepted during his time, some of the pieces that Gustav Klimt did create during his career, are today seen as some of the most important and influential pieces to come out of Austria. Fine jewelry designers need knowledge, talent, connections, and capital to have a chance to success. An industry that caters primarily to the sophisticated taste of women is predominately run by men. Whenever we walk through the Diamond District in NYC, the majority of jewelry dealers are men. If you look back at some of the most noted jewelry designers in history, most of them were men. Every facet of the jewelry industry, like many other types of industries, female jewelry designers are the minority. Could you tell us how have your artworks "evolved" throughout your career?

Mirjam & René:Undeniably, as a beginner goldsmith you are busy putting into practice what you have learned. As you practice the subject longer, you develop more flair and you work more out of free spirit. This can only be done if you can rely on balance between workmanship and experience. We are able to express feelings in material with the result of unique work pieces: A state of the Art! We are convinced that in our case “one plus one is three”. Each joint design is a masterpiece! There is a tremendous strength of our complementary skills, talents and not to mention the great amount of honor we both have. There is a balance between ratio and feeling. We try to surpass ourselves every time.

OGP:For thousands of years, mankind has been besotted by the beauty of the jewels. Gemstones have played various roles in the myths and legends of human cultures throughout history. Some tell a story or are believed to have special power, but all of them commonly have their own beauty. Each gemstone is unique with a special color, birthplace and story. Gemstones come in every color of the rainbow and are gathered from all corners of the world, with each colored gemstone possessing a unique creation of beautiful color. Generally the Middle Class starts from two carats, and when it is larger than five carats, they require the designer more creative and higher taste. So can you tell us something about your custom-made service? What kind of materials are used for your design in general, and what are the sizes and sources of those "stones" you choose? Can you provide the Jewelry Certifications accompany with the items?

Mirjam & René:Most of our potential customers have already seen our work or they come in on a recommendation. In an interview discussion we determine whether there is enough basis to start a design assignment. During the process there is contact with the client to adjust the design as necessary. Only if the client and we are completely satisfied, we proceed to final implementation.We choose precious stones with great care. The companies where we involve our stones are known for years and they supply very high quality stones of pure origin. We want to be touched by their colour shading and lightning. The feeling we get with the stone is leading in the design phase! Furthermore,upon request we also gave lectures on the creation of our designs, our vision of design and our inspiration sources. We are critical when it comes to exhibitions. We follow our hearts and carefully choose the right platform. As mentioned, our clientele consists mostly of art lovers and collectors. People who would like to distinguish themselves from the masses. Both woman and man! Sophisticated and cosmopolitan rated. Our designs initially focus on the "sentences" of the viewer. Is it the nod to the classic beauty or a design calls for a strong reminder of past times or precious moments.... It can all come together in a design. It is about the game between intriguing and fascinating, between culture and nature and the game between carrier and creator. That motivates us to keep going. Only one answer is possible: "The never ending passion" and the most beautiful profession in the world! We continue to work on unique designs, we continue to enjoy the world's most beautiful profession and we continue to translate our passion into timeless beauty!

OGP:There are many new trends emerging in the retail environment, one of the predominant factor: the customer experience. Today’s customer expects a streamlined and seamless experience. They are able to shop wherever they want, even across the world if they choose. How do you think of the trend of the future jewelry design?

Mirjam & René:Without past no present and no future. Art History shows us the splendor of the past. Trends grab back on different time zones and rising rates. Culture and actuality find their way in trends. But beyond all trends there is timeless beauty. That is our spot on the horizon!

Thank you, Mirjam & René for this meaningful discussion today. Please continue to attend to  OGP, and Mayestic Muse .

1* Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976) was an American sculptor known as the originator of the mobile, a type of moving sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended shapes that move in response to touch or air currents. Calder’s monumental stationary sculptures are called stabiles.

2* Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Art Nouveau (Vienna Secession) movement. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects, many of which are on display in the Vienna Secession gallery. Klimt's work is distinguished by the elegant gold or coloured decoration, often of a phallic shape that conceals the more erotic positions of the drawings upon which many of his paintings are based.

* By OGP Editors / Mirjam Jakubowski, René Vlasblom, and Dutch Luxury Design Provides File Photos Provides File Photos


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