Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 29 May 2020

Late architect Zaha Hadid’s first foray into jewellery illustrates her sculptural style

Hadid collaborated with Danish jewellery house Georg Jansen on a collection of rings, cuffs and bracelets - one of her last-ever projects.
Late architect Zaha Hadid. Brigitte Lacombe
Late architect Zaha Hadid. Brigitte Lacombe

The shift in scale may be extreme, but a growing number of jewellery brands are starting to take their inspiration from architecture. The most high-profile cross-pollination of these two disciplines is the recently launched Zaha Hadid jewellery collection by Georg Jensen, which was one of the last projects that the architect worked on before her untimely death in March, and represented her first-ever foray into jewellery.

In Dubai last month to mark the launch of the collection in the UAE, Eva-Lotta Sjöstedt, Georg Jensen’s newly appointed chief executive, explained why collaboration is so important to the brand. “It goes all the way back to 1904. Jensen himself was married four times, and all his wives helped out with his work and were visionaries, too. So it’s always been part of the heritage to co-create and collaborate. “So why did we choose Zaha? We have to be brave, right? Hadid is very well known, so that’s not very brave. But it was brave to choose someone who knows architectural design, and ask her to do jewellery, which she had never done before. If you look at her buildings, think about her architecture, the shapes and forms are almost organic, with an edge to them. It is very powerful, but soft at the same time, which gives her work a strong sense of presence. So working together was very much taking this enormous idea of a building and bringing it back to jewellery.”

This presented a number of challenges, of course, but Hadid was never one to be constrained. “Zaha was always told, throughout her life, that she couldn’t do things. This was one of the first things to come out. She was always told: ‘That’s impossible, you can’t do it. You are a woman, you can’t do that.’ We had to stretch our craftsmen, because we came in with sketches of a house, and said we want to make bracelets. They were like: ‘What?’ It’s been hard, and we learnt a lot, and of course at the end of the process, everyone is extremely proud.”

The brand has a long history of collaborating on projects with high-profile creatives, including British industrial designer Marc Newson, Swedish silversmith Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe and Spanish interior designer Patricia Urquiola, but never enters into these relationships lightly, says Sjöstedt. “We are quite careful before we enter a partnership, as it takes up to three years before something comes out of it. It is quite an instinctive process, deciding who to collaborate with, and sometimes we think that it’s just meant to be. The collaboration with Zaha happened because she met David Chu, our creative director, at a dinner party. He said: ‘Are you interested in doing jewellery?’ and she said: ‘I love jewellery, but only for the hands.’”

As such, the new collection consists of rings, cuffs and bracelets, but no necklaces or earrings. For those who are familiar with Hadid’s architecture, the link is clear. There is the same clash of masculinity and femininity, the same fluid lines and the same sweeping curves.

Hadid’s innate taste for visual theatre has been carried through to tiny pieces of architectural sculpture, which are designed to fold around the wearer’s arm.

As with all of Hadid’s work, there is an underlying hardness, reminiscent of exposed beams and hardware, which transpires as patterns made from deeply etched lines. The pieces are made from silver or plated with black rhodium, and set with black diamonds. Hadid’s last-ever design, which she did not get to see, is a yellow gold ring, which is available in a limited edition of 12 pieces worldwide.

The creations now have an added poignancy – they are a little piece of Hadid’s legacy that can be carried around with you. “We were all in a state of shock and extremely saddened when Zaha passed away,” says Sjöstedt. “We wanted to do this right, and even discussed if we should do it now. The people who knew her best said that she would not want us to pull back, so we decided to go ahead. To pay respect for all the hard work that everyone has done, so it’s more of a tribute to this.

“So we are doing this proudly and for the right reasons, but it’s been very emotional. To wear these pieces now, is to know it won’t happen again, so that’s a certain kind of feeling. It feels powerful and honouring. She was not a woman who should be silent, and neither are these pieces”.

The collection is available from the Georg Jensen Boutique at City Walk 2, Dubai, and online at www.modaoperandi.com.

Read this and more stories in Luxury magazine, out with The National on Thursday, November 3.


Updated: November 3, 2016 04:00 AM