Luz Camino: Out of jewellery trends to the own path
December 2022 – the last month of the very difficult year – brought quite a discovery to everyone who follows the jewellery news. Luz Camino showed a new collection at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. Soon her book will be out in Rizolli, and it looks like the year was a moment of the resolutions for the designer. I used the opportunity to talk to her to reveal a couple of her secrets.
That is her 20th trunk show but for the first time her signature design is shown to the public as a solid concept: you can see literally all sorts of flourished designs of hers – all are freshly made – exposed together and connected through the inspiration source, without refrains to the past. The metals seem like living organic tissues, gems are dazzling incorporated into enamelled surfaces like the drops of water that shine on the leaves and petals of the precious plants, when the light passes the enamelled glass it turns heavy jewellery into something ephemeral. So let’s ask, how the magic happens.
LIJ: Luz, your creations were almost always connected to the art of enamelling, particularly to the pliquée-a-jour technique, that was very popular in the end of the19c.- beginning of the 20th c. But with the invention of faster and more secure methods in jewellery design enamelling became almost forgotten art. Why do you choose to develop it? And what do you find the most challenging in the production process?
I like the lightness and the variety of tones enamelling gives – both pliquée-a-jour and traditional technique. Like with many other practices, I started using it for the purpose of specific pieces, and that work made me understood the benefits or possibilities of those particular techniques. In some cases I explored also new ideas, like setting diamonds within the enamel. That is something I do but I have not seen it in use elsewhere.
Answering to the second part of your question, I feel the biggest challenge is to reduce the amount of metal in benefit of the enamel so it looks more transparent and light.
LIJ: That is exactly what excites me in your nature inspired pieces, and nature is the most frequent source of inspiration for you. They look like “living things” because of that light. But unlike real leaves and flowers they shouldn’t have that quality of fragility, lightness and transparency, so when metal and gems suddenly turn out as one magic creature “alive”, I can’t stop wondering, what is your secret?
First of all, observation: I try to find what will make my pieces look natural. Secondly, it’s prioritisation – I need to make the pieces look as natural as possible, before and forehand adding investment value or particular stones to them… So we’ll sacrifice a lot, to make them look real. Bearing all that in mind, the next probable stages are minimizing the metal framework, the patinas we develop and the search for new materials for each piece that will work for my purpose – resins, porcelain, crystal, etc. Those are the key to the natural effect.
LIJ: Which of your works do you feel proud of the most? Why?
No idea! Usually the one I’m working on at the moment.
But when I get to revisit my works I fall in love with pieces form the past.
Working for the book that is be published this year by Rizolli, I had had to research my works through a lifetime – this year was the 50th anniversary. I created my first piece in 1973. A lot of the pieces were “one of a kind” and I didn’t have photos of them. It has been a great pleasure to get them back, to hold my hands again, and see how some things where done… It has been such a treat to me, and I hope it will be the same for the readers. They will see a big amount of my jewellery, many objects are shown to public for the first time.
LIJ: Speaking of publicity, do you participate in exhibitions? If yes, which do you find the most interesting for you? Which do you find the most interesting for people admiring the jewellery art?
Yes, our pieces are usually shown at TEFAF Maastricht (By VKD Jewels now and in the past by Deborah Elvira Gallery) and also at PAD Paris, where we are displayed by Second Petal. I think both are great places to show and discover pieces, but there are many others out there… sale exhibits and museums like the Victorian & Albert museum in London. By the way, they have 7 pieces of ours in the great Jewellery Gallery. Or the gallery at the Musee des arts Decoratifs in Paris where you can also find one of our pieces.
LIJ: What helped you to find your way to recognition among professionals and jewellery connoisseurs?
I think the answer is that I did my work the best I could – always and for so many years. I have never seen it as a business only or just a company. I’ve approached it from an artistic point of view mostly. I had ideas, wanted to recreate them and did so, some were more commercial than others, but the results were the pieces I wanted to make.
It’s good that when you create a one of a kind piece you only need to find one person in the world who appreciates and understands it… (she smiled).
Painters or sculptors have galleries where they can show and sell their work, but jewellery is mainly approached from a commercial point of view at stores. So being in that world and always showing something personal, out of the trends, doing it consistently, – that, I believe, helped me to gain recognition.
In 2023, also celebrating our 50th anniversary, the Hispanic Society Museum of New York is making our first big retrospective. The opening is scheduled for May. That will be a great opportunity to explore and understand my work even for me, not just to general public.
LIJ: Who inspired your works? What are your favourite jewellery designers and brands – from the past or contemporary – that attract your attention and that you follow during the auction sales or exhibitions, in the books etc?
As you mentioned at the beginning I have references to the past, so probably Lalique and Faberge. I like seeing at the museums very old pieces and recognising techniques we still use.
In general I try not to see much of others’ works to allow myself to explore my own path…