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Homo Faber X Venice

19th September 2018

For the first time, an exclusive exhibition gathered the finest occidental craftsmanships during the last 2 weeks of September, in Venice. This beautiful and fascinating event was the chance to meet passionate designers and creators, as well as to discover impressive and precise art techniques.

Presented by 410 artisans, about 900 unique artworks were exhibited, from jewellery and watchmaking, to car design and fashion embroidery.

To me, the most memorable jewellery and watches crafts were the following:


The Mystery Set by Van Cleef & Arpels
This particular technique to mount a gem has been invented by the House in 1933. The mystery remains in the absence of prongs and material in between the stones, which gives the impression that nothing supports them. In reality, the gems are maintained by 2 very thin gold rails on which the rubies, diamonds and sapphires can slide in. Because all stones need to be perfectly inserted and fit together, each stone requires about 2 working hours to be set on this invisible structure. This dazzling technique is a trademark of Van Cleef & Arpels but only few pieces are produced every year to maintain its exclusivity.

VCA Pivoine 1937 VCA Collection.jpg
VCA trefles mysterieux, palais de la cha
VCA mystery setting.png

Pivoine Brooch,
Diamonds and Rubies, Mystery Set,
Van Cleef & Arpels, 1937.

Trèfle Mysterieux Necklace,
Diamonds and Emeralds,
Mystery Set, Van Cleef & Arpels, 2012.

Mystery Set, Van Cleef & Arpels.
Precision and patience for setting 
these gems' rails. 

The painted enamel dials by Vacheron Constantin
Layer after layer, a miniature drawing appears on the watch’s dial. This technique didn’t change since its beginnings several centuries ago: the enamel comes from glass powder and is mixed with oil to create a painting substance. It is still an extreme delicate and repetitive work as the craftsman needs to alternate paintings and heating at a thousand degrees Celsius, several times in order to fix and amplify the color. Mastery and dexterity are fundamental to embellish the 38mm dial. It exists many enamel techniques but in all cases, enamel does not suffer from time: colors will remain the same forever.

Les Danceuses de Degas Watches, Enamel Dials by Vacheron Constantin, presented at Homo Faber, 2018.

The Glyptic by Cartier
The Master glyptician, Philippe Nicolas, transported us in his passionate world of sculptures where everything becomes engravable. Surrounded by a wall of stones coming straight from his workshop, the artist presented all his materials and tools used to create unique jewels: engraver, diamond powder, binocular magnifiers and many gems, such as chrysoprase, jade, aquamarine, amethysts.
Famous for its Panthère pieces, Cartier is largely exploiting the theme with rare materials: petrified wood comes from the wood that metamorphosed into stone more than 70 millions years ago, same applies for petrified bone. This work doesn’t leave space for mistakes and the glyptician needs to calculate all risks that could occur: break of the stone, change of color and structure.

Cartier Glyptic Works. 

Thanks to Homo Faber, we understand that all these crafts require extreme precision, infinite patience and outstanding creativity, which are embodied in truly passionate people.

The creation is a main point in art, but we often omit the huge restoration work that is required for antique and long-standing pieces. We had the chance to observe the specialists recovering impressive sculptures, paintings and masterpieces made of wood, canvas and other textiles. This is a long-term undertaking that needs exact materials, knowledge and savoir-faire to reproduce or complete an original work in order to give back the initial beauty.  

Embroidery Lesage Homo Faber

Embroidery Lesage.

Homo Faber Lobmeyr Crystal Engravery

Crystal Engravery, Lobmeyr.

Homo Faber Sculpture restoratio Gaetano Pesce

Sculpture Restoration, Gaetano Pesce.

Throughout the event, conferences have been hold by diverse artists and designers with Bruno Giussani, Global Curator of the TED conferences.

This first edition attracted about 62 500 visitors coming from all over the world, this demonstrates the excitement to discover and admire the beauty of our crafts. With this success, we are looking forward to come back in 2020 for the second exhibition!

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