A concept jewelry brand has just launched in the Netherlands, but don't let the playful name fool you. The label, called & Sparkles, has the potential to revolutionize jewelry design.
& Sparkles was founded by cousins Daniel and Ronald Schipper, who have recently fused successful corporate careers with the Dutch diamond and jewelry legacy that can be traced back generations in their family, turning the traditional business model on its head. They merged their corporate experience with the expertise of designers and artists all over the world, whose backgrounds range from art and fashion to architecture and interior design. Thus, a true partnership between art and commerce was born.
Working closely with customers, who are given creative freedom to customize their pieces as they see fit, the skilled artisans handcraft designer rings and such in gold or platinum, using only conflict-free gems. It's a unique arrangement that draws heavily from the eye and hand of the commissioned craftsmen, so let's meet them...
One of a prominent group of Dutch ceramicists who came of age in the late 1970s, Barbara Nanning's work is particularly celebrated for its organic, natural shapes and robust colors. Over the years, she has researched and experimented with virtually every type of pottery there is, from Japanese terracotta to, most recently, glassblowing. Her collaboration with & Sparkles is expected to push the limits of proportion, color, and quirk.
Jewelry designer Sayaka Yamamoto was born in Japan but moved to the Netherlands in 2005, after graduating from the Hiko Mizuno Jewelry College in Tokyo. Known for using unconventional materials, she often finds inspiration in nature, which she brings to her work with & Sparkles. “I was very happy to be asked,” she says. “I liked the idea of working with high-end luxury jewelry, but with a different approach. With & Sparkles I got the chance to be completely free with materials and techniques. It is ideal.”
Product designer Henk Stallinga founded his studio in 1993 to work on a broad variety of projects ranging from clocks to public spaces. His work can be found in the permanent collections of museums around the world, including MOMA in New York, and he often works for blue-chip brands like Sony, Heineken, and Levi’s. It's precisely because he doesn't have much experience in jewelry design that he jumped at the chance to collaborate with & Sparkles.
Based in Switzerland, goldsmith Christoph Blatter has a long and distinguished history working for major jewelry brands, including Blancpain, Breguet, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot, and Gubelin. Now establishing his own aesthetic, Blatter employs an ancient goldsmithing technique practiced by the West African Ashanti people, characterized by a union of purity and antiquity, architecture and ethnology.
Vasily Beglaenko grew up in Russia, the son of jeweler for a father. He always knew jewelry would be his future and from an early age collaborated with companies in Spain, where he now lives. He draws inspiration from literature and likes to blend traditional and conceptual methods. "I often turn to the biographies of great characters," he says. "It is through reading about their tales that I am inspired."
“My jewelry is all designed to follow the body in a natural way," says Zoe Stork, a goldsmith who graduated from Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. "A ring, for example, is always in contact with the fingers next to it. This notion became the focus of my design process."
Caren Pardovitch found her way to jewelry design by way of interior design. She draws much of her inspiration from Central Park and its scenic combination of nature and architecture. While her next project is designing the interior of a five-star boutique hotel in Amsterdam, she promises won't be too preoccupied to create smalls treasures for her clients at & Sparkles.
Growing up in an idyllic town in the south of Holland, Lidy Peters describes herself as a dreamer. She trained to be classical ballerina from a young age, before turning her sights to interior design. She started a company importing high-end Belgian linens and Italian fabrics woven from traditional techniques. While jewelry design is a new endeavor, she clearly has a vision compatible with & Sparkles.
Born in the Middle East and moving to Holland at 15, conceptual artist Melody Deldjou Fard combines her two cultural backgrounds in hr three collections for & Sparkles. "I knew immediately that I wanted to mix a Persian atmosphere with Dutch design," she says. "Connecting a rational Dutch design with a Persian 'One Thousand and One Nights' feeling was my biggest challenge. I’m happy with the results because all three of the collections I designed for & Sparkles reveal a story about my life, from childhood to now."
Suzon Ingber is an established interior specialist who studied at the Henry Van de Velde Institute in Antwerp in the late 60s, before opening her own studio. She's known for imbuing her work with a strong association between concept and narrative. “I think imagining a house, furniture, a dress, or an object entails a similar creative process,” she says. “It is all about finding something that people feel comfortable with, like a second skin."
Congratulations are in order for Tom Ford and Richard Buckley. The designer, now based in London, revealed in a conversation at the Apple store on Regent Street that he and his life partner have wed — by way of explaining tougher times. “I lost so many friends in college, I would say more than half of my closest friends," he said, speaking onstage with journalist Kinvara Balfour. "Richard, my partner of 27 years, had also gone through something quite tough in his life. We are now married, which is nice. I know that was just made legal in the UK, which is great, but we were married in the States.”
The two met at a fashion show in the late 80s, when Ford was 25 and Buckley, a fashion editor, was 38. Two years ago, the couple welcomed their first child, Alexander "Jack" John Buckley Ford. “He lays his toys out. It’s so genius. He’s so organized," said Ford, "I don’t know where it came from.”
News of the nuptials comes on the heels of marriage equality in England and Wales — without much fanfare, it should be noted — and just days after England's reigning gay couple, Elton John and David Furnish, announced plans to take advantage of the new law, ratcheting up their longstanding civil union.
At the Salone del Mobile furniture show in Milan, the Swedish handmade rug company Henzel Studio is teasing show-goers with its new collection of walkable art. The collaborators are a stellar bunch, artists and designers who include Helmut Lang (whose rug resembles his ongoing fashion-as-art shredded sculptures), Anselm Reyle, Richard Prince, Juergen Teller, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Scott Campbell, Marilyn Minter, and Jack Pierson.
Each art rug takes five months to hand-weave in Tibet using centuries-old techniques. Clearly this is high-end stuff, costing more than you can imagine, probably. Following the preview at Salone del Mobile, the debut collection will launch at Barneys New York during the Frieze Art Fair (May 9 - 12), while the pieces by Helmut Lang and Anselm Reyle will go on view at Milan’s Temporary Museum for New Design (April 8 - 13).
Helmut Lang, Untitled, 2013
Anselm Reyle, Untitled, 2012
Richard Prince, 1-234-567-8910, 2013
Mickalene Thomas, Candy Crush, 2013
In 1946, a little travel magazine with big ideas made its newsstand debut. With vim, vigor, and vivid colors, Holiday showed Americans what the good life arising from the post-war boom years looked like — which is to say, recreational, sun-kissed, and flush with disposable income. Flourishing into the 70s, Holiday amassed the best writers (Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac) and photographers (Cartier Bresson, Slim Aarons), and famously spared no expense in the pursuit of its lavish stories.
Sorely missed for 30-something years, Holiday is now returning for spring/summer 2014. This time the travel bible is based in Paris and spearheaded by artistic director Franck Durand (Balmain, Isabel Marant, Giuseppe Zanotti) — who so happens to be partners with French Vogue editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt — and journalist Marc Beaugé. The first issue, numbered 373, picking up where the magazine left off in 1977, includes a profile of Spanish artist Remed (who also contributed the cover art), a feature on Aston Martin with photos by Hedi Slimane, and a visit to the Nolita home of Inez & Vinoodh.
Holiday won't end with a print revival. A café in Paris' 16th arrondissement and a clothing line are said to be in the works.
Barbara Nitke is an American photographer whose career began around the end of the so-called Golden Age of Porn, before the advent of home videos made furtive jaunts to a theater obsolete. By the early 80s, these skin flicks featured relatively known stars and a semblance of plotlines, requiring at least some direction and reshoots. As a set photographer for many of these films, Nitke was able to capture not just the hot and heavy action but also the humorously mundane moments in between — dozing off between takes, a fit of the giggles, the director giving instruction mid-copulation, and so on.
A selection of these images will go on view at One Eyed Jack Gallery in Brighton, England. But for Nitke, these images represent more than an opportunity to marvel at Ron Jeremy's pre-Viagra prowess or chuckle at bad 80s perms. Now a faculty member of the School of Visual Arts in New York, Nitke is a staunch champion of the First Amendment and freedom of speech. In 2001, she filed a lawsuit, along with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, challenging the Communications Decency Act, a law prohibiting the publication of obscenity on the Internet. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and, although she lost, porn is clearly thriving.
Further evidence that men dressing in women's and putting on a show probably dates back to the very beginning of humankind, two caches of slides have been uncovered in Kansas City, showing high-spirited merriment at underground drag balls in the 1950s and 60s.
The two sets of slides were found independently of each other by artists and friends Robert Chase Heishman and Michael Boles, in a salvage yard and a vacant apartment, respectively. With the help of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, they've been able to place most of the snapshots at The Colony and The Jewel Box, nightclubs that have long since closed. Back then, in the interest of safety, a drag party was usually billed as a private birthday party, a euphemism the duo borrowed for their newly launched website.
They've also determined that, curiously, both sets of slides were taken by the same person known only as Jack, whose friendliness with the crowd clearly made possible the cheer and gaiety they display. You almost don't want to know any more, for fear of spoiling the revelry.
Visit Private Birthday Party
Few designers can be evoked by a single silhouette. Thom Browne, with his stunted suits, is among them. The designer's idiosyncratic menswear revolution — and his dramatic forays into womenswear — made him a particularly fitting choice to sit down with respected fashion critic Robin Givhan (Daily Beast, New York Magazine) on Monday night at Manhattan's French Institute Alliance Française for the finale of its popular Art de Vivre series of fashion talks.
Browne took the stage dressed in the silhouette that has made him an icon of contemporary menswear, flashing a solid four or five inches of bare calf — a sartorial choice echoed by many of the men in the audience. Over the course of the evening, the designer discussed his journey from the first gray suits he made for himself in 2001 to the theatrical runway shows that have earned him a place among America's most provocative designers.
He began by recalling the early days, when he worked out of his apartment and even friends would ask, "Why would I want a suit from you when it doesn't even fit you?" Though his message has since been embraced by the fashion world and beyond, Browne admitted he still feels most comfortable when pushing boundaries — to the point of scaring himself. "I want to open people's eyes that fashion isn't just what you see on the street," he said of his experimentation.
Givhan, who once compared a women's look of Browne's to "quinceañera finery," made several attempts to draw him out. True to form, however, he remained resolutely coy. When asked how he sketches, he demurred "conceptually." On dressing First Lady Michelle Obama for her husband's inauguration, he only revealed: "I wanted her to look like the strong woman she is. I wanted her to look like the confident woman she is. And I wanted her to look good with her husband — I guessed he'd be wearing navy."
But kudos to Browne for staying on-message, as he has done since he launched the line in response to the sloppily dressed bankers he saw on Wall Street. "We were living in a time of dress-down Fridays," Browne said of his decision to strike out on his own. "Wearing a suit was the cool thing to do because you're not like everyone else."
Strange animal rings are becoming a thing, none stranger than Strange Wilderness. Based in San Francisco, the new jewelry line is the brainchild of designer and artist Josh Dorey, who digitally sculpts and 3D-prints his animal heads — ram, falcon, wolf, rhino — before casting them in sterling silver. More animal heads are in the works, for those who like to wear their spirit animal on their finger.
$395 at Strange Wilderness
The Fondazione Prada investigates the history of peculiar musical instruments and the relationship between the visual and the aural in its latest exhibition in Venice, Art or Sound, curated by the art historian and inventor of Arte Povera, Germano Celant.
Organized chronologically, Art or Sound begins with musical instruments made from unusual and precious materials in the 17th century. It continues with 19th-century examples of automated instruments and avant-garde experiments, such as 1913's Intonarumori by Luigi Russolo, the Futurist artist, composer, and author of The Art of Noises manifesto.
Also exhibited are works by composers Alvin Lucier and John Cage, sound boxes of 60s artists Robert Morris and Nam June Paik, kinetic sculptures by Takis and Stephan von Huene, and sound installations including Robert Rauschenberg’s Oracle (1962-65) and Laurie Anderson’s Handphone Table (1978). There are also Arman's motorcycle pianos and other hybrid instruments by the likes of Richard Artschwager and Joseph Beuys.
Art or Sound, June 7 - November 3, 2014, Fondazione Prada, Santa Croce 2215, Venice