Brief Encounters: Jeweller Lorenz Baumer on his latest collaboration with Lane Crawford
Lorenz Baumer has been lauded as one of the most innovative jewellers of his generation. Since 1992, his creations have been exhibited in museums and worn by royals including Princess Charlene of Monaco. In 2009, he became the first artistic director of Louis Vuitton fine jewellery. He talks about his latest collaboration with Lane Crawford and his love of surfing.
Many people ask me why I chose jewellery design, especially since I started off designing furniture. There's something magical about jewellery, because of its high emotional content. Through jewellery you can express so much and, for me, it's all about the details.
While everyone can learn the technical skills to become a jeweller, the one thing you really need is passion.
It will get you through the difficult moments. Curiosity is also important - it helps you to see things, and leads you to unusual places from where you can draw inspiration.
When I first started, I was making 30 pieces a year, but now we create about 200. I have about 20 people working for me in our offices, and we have a workshop in Place Vendôme in Paris. I always start my day with a meeting to talk about creation, and then I have appointments with clients.
My favourite part of the job is meeting clients. They are all so different. We work on some pieces three or four times until we are satisfied. Clients are demanding, and push us to extremes, which is exciting.
I often travel to see my clients. I've found that it's not a woman's culture that determines what piece of jewellery she wants, but her dreams. There are stereotypes - for example, Middle Eastern women like more bling - but those are changing
My inspiration comes from everywhere. It starts with an idea, a material or a technique. Sometimes these intertwine. This collection with Lane Crawford was a real challenge, as I was working with jade.
It was extraordinary to show the beauty of jade in all its colours, so we mixed several, from black and green, to purple and honey, in one piece.
Out of the seven pieces, my favourites are the bracelets, which are designed as a pair. They depict the phoenix and the dragon. The stones are set upside down, mixing cabochons in different ways. Light plays on it, so it sparkles like stars.
Collaborations like this are important for me as a designer. It gives me access to stones I wouldn't normally have, as well as new challenges, which is what I live for. It was nice to design such delicate pieces, as my style is usually quite geometric.
Women today are looking for jewellery that seduces them. They have to be in love with it, as no one really needs jewellery. That's why you need it the most, because you don't need it.
There has been talk of investing in jewellery like art, or any other commodity. But before you even buy a piece of jewellery, the first thing you need to ask yourself is if you are in love with it. Don't calculate the carats or gold. If you are in love, then it will be a good investment. If it sparks emotion in you, hopefully it will spark it in someone else.
The jewellery industry has changed quite a bit since I started. People are moving away from the established maisons because they have changed into big companies that are not necessarily in hands of people who are creative. Customers are sick and tired of marketing, high prices and seeing jewellery that isn't innovative. People are looking for spontaneity and emotion, and they like to meet the designers.
When I'm not working, I live an active life. I go biking, skiing, horseback riding and I love to read. Travel is also a big part of my life. My most exciting trip is my next one. I love Venice during the biennale, because art inspires me, and I recently went to Burma, which was amazing.
Every year I go to Sumba, a small island in Indonesia, for a month. I just chill out and surf all day. My life is usually dictated by clients and the workshops. But there, it's the tides, the storms and the rain that leads me. It's like going back to nature.
As told to Divia Harilela (email@example.com)