Q&A: Pierre Rainero
Since joining French jewellers Cartier in 1984, Pierre Rainero has gone from advertising manager to the brand's image, style and heritage director, supervising all contemporary designs. He also heads the Cartier Collection, a collection of more than 1,300 historical pieces.
Have you always been fascinated by jewellery?
The main reason I joined the jewellery industry was because of the brand's inter-cultural perspective. It wasn't the idea of working with a luxury brand but the fact that a French creation interacted with so many different cultures that fascinated me. I have learned a lot through the years.
How did you make the transition to the role of artistic director?
It happened as if it was my destiny. Although I went to business school, I was always interested in arts and I even took evening classes in art history at Ecoles d'art en France without realising it would link to my future career. I worked in Italy for Cartier for three years and joined the creative committee in 1990, when I returned to Paris. Eight years later, Alain Dominique, the president, asked me to be artistic director but I think the responsibility of our creation lies on the shoulders of many different people. Every single stage is important, but my role is to control our house style.
What is the brand's aesthetic?
Style should never stop evolving. If we have a fixed definition of style, then [the brand] is dead. The desirability of jewellery is not only linked to the beauty of the design, but also to the way it integrates with people's lifestyles. It should be wearable, comfortable and embrace fluidity. The fluidity and the movement of an object and the way it is conceived and made is the key. Jewellery should be like a second skin. There can be daring jewellery pieces, but the important basic rules in design should be respected.
What's the inspiration for each collection?
There are many ways of getting inspired, but stones are always at the centre. That's really the essence of the jeweller's skill. For last year's fantasy-inspired collection, we had two lots of both extraordinary but very different stones - orange and pink padparadsha sapphire and light green emerald. We got the idea that a chimera [a fire-breathing creature in Greek mythology, composed of the parts of a lion, a snake and a goat] embraces both elements as the sapphires evoke the desire for fire, whereas emeralds represent water.
Indian culture is also a traditional and constant source of inspiration for Cartier. We wanted to work on the Indian inspiration in a new way, so we came up with the Mysterious India collection. We aim to express the lightness, fluidity and different colours.
Do you take inspiration from the archives for your current designs?
Since styles change so quickly it makes what has been done in the past even more important. In 1983, we decided to create the Cartier Collection, dedicated to important objects we have created. We hired an expert to organise the archival documents, which are day-to-day working documents from design studios and the ateliers. We also analyse the documents to better preserve house style.