Francois Goizé / Cartier
This month, Cartier unveiled its latest Beautés du Monde high jewelry collection in Madrid, where its roots run deep – the house was commissioned as official jewelry supplier to the Spanish royal family in 1904 and hosted its first exhibition. local to the Hotel Ritz Madrid in 1922.
One hundred years later, Cartier returns to the city in great shape, taking over the former British Embassy to stage a remarkable installation. Designed by WS Bryant and Luis Blanco-Soler to mimic a bullring, the brutalist monument was built in 1966 and had lain unused since 2009. It was ripe for re-imagining in the capable hands of Spanish artist Jaime Hayon, who was brought in to design the interiors of the showrooms and private viewing rooms from scratch.
The space had to be “beautiful, but cool,” says Hayon, who out of necessity cared as much about logistics as aesthetics: cabling had to be concealed under the floor to allow for the highest level of IT security; runners had to be able to go back and forth during appointments with multimillion-dollar coins in hand; and, of course, the jewelry had to be effectively lit and highlighted. Repeating arch patterns in different colors guide visitors through the installation, allowing for a sense of discovery as well as an emotional connection to the pieces on display.
But it goes without saying that all of this was in the service of gemstones. Jacqueline Karachi, Creative Director of Cartier Fine Jewelry, describes herself as “a perfect master of Cartier”, having designed for the house for more than 25 years. Her sense of color and her ability to synthesize abstract ideas into a suite of high jewelry is an ongoing process of transmission and education, as she works with her team of 12 designers to continually evolve the codes of the house. “I never say that I don’t like [a design]; I’m just saying it could be ‘more Cartier’ if you add such-and-such a detail,” Karachi says. “It’s just a matter of knowing the Cartier vocabulary.”
It takes two full years, not to mention a lot carats – to craft the pieces on display, from ideation and material sourcing to execution. “For this collection, we wanted it to feel like a cabinet of curiosities in that you find inspiration from everywhere,” says Karachi. “Sometimes it comes from the stone, sometimes from the color, sometimes it’s where [the stone] just. You can have your own interpretation and you are invited to embark on your own journey. At Cartier, it turns out that all roads lead to beauty.
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