French jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels recently dedicated an entire exhibition to the influence of movement on their work. And what a joy it was to see.

Hosted by The Design Museum in London, this was a great opportunity to explore another artistic discipline’s use of movement. A core influence for them since their foundation in 1906.

They broke it down into: Nature Alive, Dance, Elegance and Abstract Movements & Modernism. Great that nature was in there like it is on this website (see ‘Natural Beauty‘).

Van Cleef & Arpels. The Design Museum. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.
Van Cleef & Arpels. The Design Museum. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.

The Dancer Clips (above and below) were of particular interest what with my own love of that world. They first created these in 1941 inspired by ballerinas’ liveliness & elegance and have since covered other forms of dance.

Interestingly, Claude Arpels met New York City Ballet’s choreographer George Balanchine in the ’50s and this resulted in his ballet ‘Jewels’. Each of the three acts was linked to a gem – Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds (and each with a different composer).

I love these clips. So beautiful, such grace and elegance in portraying movement – yet they are static objects (until worn). Note that the faces of these are created with a single pear-shaped diamond. (Lower image showing reverse – clip visible).

Van Cleef & Arpels. The Design Museum. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.
Van Cleef & Arpels. The Design Museum. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.

The Museum’s Director, Tim Marlow, held a brilliant discussion called ‘Motion & Forces’ on the last night of the exhibition. Particular thanks to Lise Macdonald of VC&A for her fascinating insights.

Lise’s thoughtful words, both in the discussion and programme, were of particular value as she gave mention to the techniques used by the Maison to create dynamism beyond the line, figure and form of the subject.

These ranged from braided & lacework gold, asymmetry, inversions and off-centre designs, to combinations of settings, contrasting spaces & densities and trompe-l’oeil. Not forgetting play of light when worn.

Van Cleef & Arpels. The Design Museum. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.

For further information on the jewellery please visit:

Credits

Location:  The Design Museum

With thanks to:  Van Cleef & Arpels

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