When Zaha Hadid died suddenly earlier this year, it left anyone with an interest in architecture in a state of shock, as her revolutionary talent was in full flower. Those at Danish jewellery and silverware brand Georg Jensen were left especially so. Just two weeks before her death, the company had launched (at the Baselworld watch and jewellery fair) its first collaboration with the architect, who was a noted collector and lover of jewellery design. She had already curated an exhibition of her jewellery choice at the Goldsmiths’ Fair and worked on designs with Swarovski and Lebanese fine jewellers Aziz and Walid Mouzannar, but this was the first time she was aiming at a wide market – prices range from £550 to £27,800.
Jensen and Hadid’s studio decided that since the range had been completed and launched to the trade, it was too good not to go ahead with, so on Thursday September 1 the limited-edition collection will arrive at Georg Jensen’s London flagship in silver, followed by black rhodium in October. Hadid had met Jensen chairman and chief creative officer David Chu over two years before, at an event in east Asia, and they soon realised there was an accord between their approaches, both often inspired by nature. Hadid was aware of Jensen’s heritage of timeless yet contemporary design in silver and its century of collaborations with artists from other disciplines. Both felt it was a perfect fit. “There was a continuity in Zaha’s work, as there is in this collection,” says Chu. “Her aesthetic aligned with the history of our jewellery designs, celebrating nature’s seemingly simple yet mathematical forms.”
The Lamellae collection (meaning layers) consists of eight ring and cuff designs, in sterling silver or in black rhodium set with black diamonds, each a fluid and architectural shape deeply scored to give a light and layered effect. In their graphic fluidity and twists, the pieces reflect both Hadid’s building designs and some of the classic jewellery done for Jensen in the mid 20th century, such as the Vivianna watch with its sculptured open bracelet, or an elongated oval ring from the Archive collection.
By adding bold scale, double rings (from £550, first picture), soaring curves (rings from £550) and twists that seem to freeze movement (cuffs from £2,775, second and third pictures), Hadid had made something entirely new – as she said when launching the collection. “I appreciate Georg Jensen’s iconic shapes, appearing to be of their time yet essentially timeless, grounded by a deep understanding of material, structure, craftsmanship and ergonomics. Working with them was an opportunity to express our ideas in different scales and through different media. Our challenge was to reinterpret the brand’s rich history and tradition of design into something new.”
She succeeded beyond question. “We got to know a woman of extraordinary vision who inspired all of us to think bigger, do better and try harder,” says Chu. Whether her studio can develop the range further as one of its many legacy projects remains to be seen. So better to be safe than sorry and buy now.