10 Conceptual Jewelry Designers Hailing From The Netherlands
“I hate jewelry,” announces the jewelry and product designer Gijs Bakker, who attempts to overcome jewelry’s purely decorative factor. Bakker exploded onto the scene in 1967, when he and his late wife Emmy van Leersum held a fashion show that would change the course of jewelry design in Holland. In 1993, together with Renny Ramakers, Bakker founded the now well-known design company Droog Design. A strange concept for the production of jewelry, Bakker seeks to put ideas before aesthetics in his designs. His Circle in a Circle bracelet tests the movement of a flat plane once a hand is struck through it. Bakker thus challenges his dislike for jewelry by creating conceptual pieces – a trait that, in his view, jewelry often lacks.
The relationship we have with technology is one of the main concepts Katja Prins works with throughout her jewelry collections. It is no wonder then that Prins’ pieces look like collages of medical equipment, a collection of technology used to alter and fix the body. The materials and colors used in her work – mixing grey metals with red – reveals her fascination with the combination of body and the machine, exploring how technology is an extension of the body. Prins’ jewelry has been collected by a number of museums, including the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Ruudt Peters is a teacher at the Alchimia contemporary school of jewelry design in Florence, whilst also working and living in Amsterdam. Peters has a unique approach to his jewelry as he starts from a spiritual perspective, often involving mystic ideas in his works. His Sefiroth collection features the tree of life and the order of God’s creation of the world. The grid on which the tree is based becomes more chaotic with the addition of each piece in the collection. According to Peters, a piece of jewelry must have afflatus or an energy and spirit to it to in order to be meaningful. He is currently exhibiting his works as part of the ‘Body Language’ exhibit at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Attracted to all things bright and colorful, Ineke Otte provides a fun take on contemporary jewelry design. She uses nature as her inspiration, giving us a necklace of pearls and rubber frogs or a grass-like plastic bracelet and matching necklace and earrings. Otte mixes the natural and the synthetic into her borderline kitsch designs, resulting in her special pieces which have impressed Queen Máxima of the Netherlands herself. Where nature is often associated with earthy tones of browns and dark greens, Otte incorporates neon colors. The materials Otte uses allow her to express her love for nature with an unusual and refreshing sense of humor.
Rian de Jong
A material not often associated with fine jewelry, wood is used in a number of Rian de Jong’s collections. De Jong is a worldwide traveler who sails the seas in search of new inspiration for her designs. “By traveling, you meet the world, the imagination and your work,” says de Jong. Her low-maintenance lifestyle is translated into her jewelry as she uses wood, pebbles and textiles to create her pieces, which are often juxtaposed with gold, copper and porcelain. De Jong’s chain of teapots entitled ‘Home Sweet Home’ and brooches reminiscent of small souvenirs, show that the idea of travelling often dominates her pieces.
Iris Eichenberg brings true artistry into her jewelry. Her collections have exhibited in a number of museums, including the Mint Museum in North Carolina and the Pforzheim Jewelry Museum in Germany. Now head of the metalsmithing department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, Eichenberg graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in 1994 and later worked as an independent artist. Her pieces often include textiles and once worn, give the impression that they are part the person’s clothing, forming a natural wave from the body and the clothing to the art piece.
Nel Linssen crafts complex pieces of jewelry from a very simple material: she manipulates colored paper into beautiful bracelets and necklaces. The paper is folded in such a way that it tends to behave like scales on the back of a fish or feathers on a bird and once worn, the jewelry moves with the body to reveal different colors, showing off Linssen’s craftsmanship and mathematical precision to achieve a stunning result. The paper is covered with a layer of plastic so as to retain the durability of the otherwise fragile paper. Living and working in Nijmegen, Linssen has donated some of her pieces to the city’s Museum Het Valkhof.
Sophie Duran is a newcomer to the Netherland’s jewelry design scene. ‘The Imperfectionist’ – a jewellery collection she created for her graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven – explores people’s obsession with looking perfect. Duran created four dynamic facial jewelry pieces that allow you to change the appearance of your face, conjuring bigger lips, longer lashes, a shinier grill and a curlier mustache, pointing out that it is our unique characteristics which make us attractive. Despite now focusing on textile design, Duran has created a thoughtful jewelry collection, making her a designer to watch in the future.
Without a doubt, Ted Noten creates provocative pieces of jewelry that are not easy to wear should you not wish to attract attention. He challenges the luxurious and aesthetic aspect of jewelry by bringing in a distinct shock-factor. His ‘Chew Your Own Brooch’ provides you with a chewing kit to mold into the shape of your own jaw – send the kit back to him and you will receive a gold or silver brooch replica of your own chewing mechanism. Noten captures everyday objects (and sometimes even animals in acrylic blocks) that can be worn as pendants or purses, often subversively mocking jewelry as a status symbol.
His jewelry having a rather commercial aesthetic, Tord Boontje is better known as an industrial designer. He created the ‘Charming’ collection for Artecnica, inspired by fantastical animal life and flowers, it includes pieces that bring together a bundle of gold and silver plated charms onto a single piece of jewelry collected by a large hook. This light-hearted collection ties in well with his other playful product designs. Boontje’s ‘Cherry Rocks’ collection, however, shows a different side to his aesthetic as he strings cherry pits together to form necklaces and bracelets.