Creating a piece of jewellery as fluffy as a cloud already sounds like a daunting task. Add 9,786 titanium threads capped with 5,371 diamonds and 4,415 glass beads to the composition and it sounds almost impossible to achieve. Luckily Claire Choisne is not afraid of a challenge and as the Creative Director of Maison Boucheron for the past nine years, she continues to blend innovation with elegance.
Her latest venture is the ‘Contemplation’ collection that features 67 mesmerising pieces that are inspired by nature. You can discover more of the collection here while below we asked Choisne to let us into her Willy Wonka-style brain to embrace her world of pure imagination. Future jewellery designers, take notes.
What has been a personal highlight when creating creating ‘Contemplation’?
This collection has been inspired by many things including some very personal. The theme of the collection came up three years ago. At that time, I really felt I needed to take some time, to recharge my batteries, to slow down from this crazy rhythm in which we all live in our work. I had the feeling that nature could help me and help others to calm down, that nature could do good to us. When I needed to recharge my batteries, I go to my house in Portugal and rather outside the house. I spend my time observing the nature that surrounds me. And I feel really good after these moments of contemplation.
The collection is also inspired by other moments of contemplation that I have been lucky enough to have, such as in Naoshima in Japan, this concept of an island museum where you can discover works of art surrounded by nature, particularly with the works of James Turrell and Tadao Ando, which represent comforting spaces with an opening to the sky. Finally, inspiration is also drawn from images I have seen of the Salar d’Uyuni, the largest salar in the world, which once a year in the spring is covered by rainwater and forms a mirror in which the sky is reflected. It feels like you can only see the sky and the horizon.
It is the addition of these places and moments that made me want to start on the theme of Contemplation.
Is it correct to say you like a challenge?
I love the challenge but the main reason for this is to keep this creative freedom as large as possible. Never put limits on yourself when creating a collection. Never put technical constraints in your head and be as free as possible to express what my team and I want to express. It’s true (she laughs) that it often creates technical challenges but it’s always with the hope of getting our creative messages and poetry across. I am fortunate to be surrounded by jewellers who know how to meet challenges and who do miracles, every year, to have our dreams come to life.
Do you feel that pushing boundaries and innovation are important for saying relevant and interesting for the customer?
I can’t speak for every client, but I can speak for those I’ve been lucky enough to meet and because of the experience I have at Boucheron. Innovation and pushing the limits of technology are not an end in themselves. The goal is above all to convey a certain form of poetry. Innovation and pushing the limits of technique are a way to achieve that poetry. And I’m convinced that our clients have an attraction for this poetry and are sensitive to the messages we convey to them.
Despite the impressive technical elements, the pieces remain wearable. Is that one of the key factors you consider when designing?
Of course! A piece of jewellery can be perceived in different ways. On a personal level, and more broadly at Boucheron, we like to see jewelry worn. It’s sad to imagine a piece of jewelry that would be bought, worn once and put in a safe. A piece of jewellery is beautiful when it is worn and the woman is, hopefully even stronger, with her jewellery. We therefore pay a lot of attention to making sure that jewellery is wearable and is worn as often as possible, not only in the evening, at a gala, but also more simply almost in everyday life. I am delighted because most of the pieces in the Contemplation collection are very easily wearable.
When it comes to preferences, what do you think Middle Eastern customers look for?
I have had the chance to meet some of the Middle Eastern clients and it has always been wonderful meeting. I discovered women who sincerely love jewellery, high jewellery pieces, who wear them and above all assume them. They also have the audacity to wear pieces that can sometimes be voluminous. I would even say that they almost have an innate sense of how they will be able to wear them and associate them with their styles. Talking with them, you can really feel this love for jewellery. As a Creative Director, it’s always a real pleasure to create for them.
If you could dedicate a piece to the Middle East, what would it look like?
On pieces of high jewellery, as I said just before, I know that with people from the Middle East, I will have a freedom on the volume and I know that behind it there will always be this famous audacity to assume creatively strong pieces. I will therefore allow myself the greatest possible freedom knowing that my work will be understood by these women.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere! Mine is mainly visual, it can be a trip, a movie, photos. The important thing is to keep your eyes open to the world to catch these inspirations.
When did your love for jewellery begin?
It started when I was 18 and I was looking for my future job. I chose jewellery, and I chose to go to a jewellery school where you learn how to make the pieces – I was jeweler in a first place before joining creation. I first approached jewellery from a technical point of view, and that’s what still fascinates me today: the devotion, the time, that jewellers are able to put into sometimes a single piece to strive for excellence. For example, in high jewelry, when working on unique pieces, you have to reinvent everything each time. I find the technical part of this job extraordinary.
What is the most precious item you own?
I am lucky to have an eternal flower ring, more precisely composed of two blue hydrangea flowers, which was made using the same techniques we used for the Nature Triomphante collection. The idea was to capture and give eternity to the ephemeral beauty of nature. I chose blue hydrangeas for this ring because they bring back precious memories of my daughter. The first Mother’s Day gift she chose for me was a small bouquet of blue hydrangeas and I still remember that day perfectly. It is a very happy memory. When I wear this ring I remember this moment. It is very important for me in pieces of jewellery, and high jewellery, to convey emotion. This ring gives me a lot of emotions every time I look at it and wear it.
What would you like to do at Boucheron that you haven’t done yet?
A lot of things. That’s what’s magic about working at Boucheron, this great freedom to create. I know that we will still be able to try to push the limits of high jewellery in future collections. I have a lot of ideas about the things we will try to achieve but I can’t say much more, it will be the subject of future collections.
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