Luxury through contemplation
von Claudia Beckmann | Dec 1, 2008

It goes without saying that partner selection is an exciting theme, something which requires a great deal of thought to ensure a successful, productive future. Goldsmith and product designer Marc-Jens Biegel knew this too when, in 2002, he decided on an exciting joint venture. It all started, as so often in life, with a question: "Why aren't there any signature designs in the jewellery segment?" Or why have those that do exist, Ettore Sottsass's for example, never gone into series production? One of the reasons could be that jewellery has always been identified with tradition and prestige. Often, jewellery is about high-end materials and expensive stones, in short, luxury and, in this context, the signature of the designer is not of primary importance.

But this has changed in recent times. Although the list of traditional jewellery manufacturers is long, there are always goldsmiths and jewellery designers ready to adapt and extend the repertoire as well as a host of young designers, who have revitalised the genre, intentionally foregoing the conventional signs of luxury in favour of design creations based on art, design and fashion trends.

It is in this area that Marc-Jens Biegel has formulated his reflections. He had the idea of basing a series, comprising a ring, a necklace, a bracelet and earrings, on a design concept. His choice of partners for these projects is interesting - all are product designers, who are actually designers of furniture, lighting and other large objects but here the end product was jewellery, pieces for bodily adornment, which combine design and craftsmanship. In this context, Marc-Jens Biegel dubbed the collection 'Bodysign' - a made-up word, which clarifies the relationship between the body and symbolism.

The project started out brilliantly with Uwe Fischer, Axel Kufus and Konstantin Grcic collections. Biegel successfully brought Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Hannes Wettstein and Shin & Tomoko Azumi on board for a six-product-line collection, which premiered at the 2003 Cologne Furniture Fair, developing three additional ranges in a short space of time. The ambitious project was a hit. Following the successful launch of the collection concept, Biegel made an appearance at Designmai 2005 with more ranges, on this occasion working with Tom Dixon, Alfredo Häberli and Werner Aisslinger. Barely a year later Saskia and Stefan Diez designed the product range for what is currently Biegel's last designer collection.

So much for the historical time line, the pace of which is amazing in real time. With Bodysign, Marc-Jens Biegel launched a collection, which has made a major contribution to remodelling contemporary jewellery design. Sometimes, numerals and the symbolism of numerals are the inspiration, sometimes human molecular biochemical structures, sometimes he reflects rational/industrial design processes or architectural references or plays around with historic or cultural codes. The result is that all the designs manifest "a beauty which comes from simplicity, which is not simplistic but allows itself the luxury of reflection", said Volker Fischer, Curator of the Museum for Applied Art in Frankfurt.

The design maxim of the house is 'precious simplicity'. Marc-Jens Biegel characterises his expensive valuables thus: "they must be distinct but not disruptive". Although this kind of disruption would be positively enjoyable.

top down: Gran Prix by Konstantin Grcic Elizabeth by Shin and Tomoko Azumi Molecular by Uwe Fischer Spike by Tom Dixon Oyster by Saskia and Stefan Diez