Julia Muggenburg talks personal taste: Part One

The Belmacz gallery founder juxtaposes her own avant-garde jewellery with contemporary art

Julia Muggenburg at home in southwest London
Julia Muggenburg at home in southwest London | Image: Jude Edginton

My personal style signifier is a hat; I wear one every day. My dermatologist said: “You’re very fair – forget about sunscreen, the only thing you can do is keep wearing hats.” I love trilbies, trucker caps, Rembrandt berets that are quite accentuated, and smoking caps with tassels and trims. Stephen Jones does them best. To me his hats have soul. www.stephenjonesmillinery.com.

The last thing I bought and loved was Norwegian artist Camilla Løw’s Gentle Midnight, a beautiful, very long hanging sculpture made of 40 or 50 wooden cubes, spray-painted different blues and threaded together. It hangs from the ceiling like a large rosary and is very commanding. Price on request; www.camillalow.com.

Ratatosk by Helen&Hard architects, at the V&A
Ratatosk by Helen&Hard architects, at the V&A | Image: Victoria and Albert Museum, London/Helen & Hard Architects. Photo: Pasi Alto

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a beautiful Ratatosk sculpture by Norwegian architecture practice Helen & Hard. They are made from a circle of willow or poplar trees, with the intricate interweaving of their branches mapped out using 3D scanning and modelling. The V&A commissioned one for a contemporary architecture exhibition they had about five or six years ago. When you sit beneath it and look up, it’s like a barren, Nordic version of a pleasure garden, the branches meeting like thin, wizened fingers. It’s quite spooky. www.helenhard.no .

A recent “find” is Bar Termini in Soho. It opens at 7.30am and closes around midnight, so you can go there first thing for a black coffee, or later for great spritzers and martini cocktails. It’s tiny but super-chic and they always play 1950s Italian music. 7 Old Compton Street, London W1 (07860-945 018; www.bar-termini.com).


An indulgence I would never forgo is tribal jewellery, spanning from the South Seas to the Congo and North Pole. I’ve got earrings and bracelets, masks and an antique Maori breastplate; I find them on my travels and also have dealers such as Michael Thieme who help me source pieces. I love the way the colours and shapes freestyle from nature. I don’t just wear them, I also hang them in my house like works of art. One of my favourites is a set of bracelets that once belonged to a cannibal in Borneo – they’re wild. Michael Thieme, 20 Spiegelgracht, 1017 Amsterdam (+3120-330 5335; www.michelthieme.com).

The site that inspires me is the English countryside, especially the long beaches along the Essex and Suffolk coast, which remind me of Germany, where I was born. Walberswick beach in particular is outstanding; it has a wonderful tranquillity.

Muggenburg’s antique tortoiseshell Maori breastplate
Muggenburg’s antique tortoiseshell Maori breastplate | Image: Jude Edginton

The last music I downloaded was Funky Kingston by Toots & the Maytals, and I love 1930s crooner Rudy Vallée, so I downloaded his early catalogue. Also the complete recordings of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I don’t want tons of music I never listen to but do want to drill into what I like – like a worm in the Stilton.

The beauty staples I’m never without are my shampoo and conditioner by Phyto Specific, a French brand that’s sadly not inexpensive; it gives strong, yet soft, luxuriant locks. I also take oriental reishi mushroom extract in little powdered capsules to boost my immune system. Phyto Specific, from £11.50; www.sephora.com. Swanson Reishi Mushroom, £7.99 for 60 capsules; www.amazon.co.uk.

Walberswick beach, Suffolk
Walberswick beach, Suffolk | Image: Getty Images

The last meal that truly impressed me was at The Shiori, celebrating an artist friend’s new studio. We had tiny, traditional Kyoto style dishes and everything was modest but exhilarating and so carefully put together. The moment I got there I was transported back to Kyoto, where I was last spring. 45 Moscow Road, London W2 (020-7221 9790; www.theshiori.com).

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a semi-sheer, asymmetrical organdie jacket in rust, by Thomas Tait. Because it is organdie it’s a bit like bark; it stands proud and seems to have its own life. I wore it to a dinner at the V&A and when I sat down the man next to me said, “I was hoping to get to meet you – I’ve been looking at you and your jacket all evening.” From £970; www.thomastait.com .

Funky Kingston by Toots & The Maytals
Funky Kingston by Toots & The Maytals

My favourite websites are Architizer and Dezeen. I love being able to explore the details of an architect’s renderings and way-out designs. Otherwise I don’t look at websites for pleasure; I don’t have time – if I want to do something for fun, I do it live. www.architizer.com. www.dezeen.com.

Discover the personal style files of jewellery and accessories designer Lara Bohinc, or Fine artist-turned-jeweller Theo Fennell.


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