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Jouin Manku Meets Van Cleef & Arpels

The design studio collaborated with the jewellery house and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris to create When Elegance Meets Art, an exhibition in Beijing’s Today Art Museum

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Text by Rab Messina

This isn’t the first time Patrick Jouin, Sanjit Manku and Van Cleef & Arpels work together. One of most prolific collaborations between the Jouin Manku space design studio and the jewellery house was The Art of High Jewellery, a 2012 exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.

Now, the studio, the house and the museum have come together once more to collaborate on When Elegance Meets Art, a new exhibition taking place at the Today Art Museum in Beijing.

In this new exhibition, the Paris-based duo has imagined a dreamlike setting inspired by the landscapes and gardens of China. The goal? To conjure a dreamy atmosphere to guide visitors through the world of Van Cleef & Arpels’ otherworldly creations.

In the museum’s Small Gallery, for example, they’ve assembled a quiet space in gentle tones of grey and celadon to speak of the company’s beginnings, displaying jewellery and precious object from the 1910s to the 1930s.

The Medium Gallery is the home for work made between 1940 and 2017, shown in luminous display cases custom designed by the duo —they are discreet enough to allow the precious stones to sparkle unchallenged.

The last room in the exhibition, though, is reserved for the whimsical: the Large Gallery hosts the most emblematic creations from each period of the Maison’s history. And among them, one stands out: the Fée Ondine, an intricate key-operated automate that has a sparkling fairy witness the opening of a water lily. It’s so easy to get lost in its beauty that the exhibition could have easily been called When Elegance Meets Art Meets Dream.

When Elegance Meets Art is on display until August 5

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