Cartier celebrates the art of craft in Venice

Cartier has created a unique piece for Homo Faber 2022 that is at once jewellery and objet d’art

craftsman at work
Artisan at work, Cartier, Lola Moser © Michelangelo Foundation
(Image credit: TBC)

Cartier is celebrating the beauty of craftsmanship at this year’s Homo Faber, a celebration of artisans and their creations taking place in Venice. The open event unites luxury houses in an exhibition curated by Judith Clark, in a setting that encourages visitors to observe master artisans at work. The design, in its open-plan informality, is reminiscent of Renaissance workshops, where gem-carvers, embroiderers, sculptors and goldsmiths worked on pieces together.

It is an ethos Cartier encapsulates with the unveiling of a unique piece exclusively for Homo Faber, which merges jewellery, glyptics (the engraving or sculpting of gems or hard stones) and straw marquetry while also paying tribute to Homo Faber’s guest of honour, Japan.

illustration of box and bracelet by Cartier artisans for Homo Faber

Illustration of Cartier’s unique piece for Homo Faber

(Image credit: TBC)

‘When you are artisans, you have to master your technique first,’ says Cartier image, style and heritage director Pierre Rainero of the brand’s championing of the spirit of collaboration. ‘It's only when you master your technique that you can think about challenging the creative part. And it's very interesting because when we work with different artisans, we like to face initiatives – if it was just focusing on the execution, I think it would be a very poor result. There is a big difference between artisans who will only execute, and an artisan who is a master, who has mastered the technique enough to have the strength to propose new ways and to go beyond the traditional boundaries.’

The unique piece, which is at once jewellery and objet d’art, pays tribute to this philosophy. A delicate box in white opal features a flower with hand-carved petals of pink chalcedony that rests on the lid and can be detached and worn as a brooch; the box’s outer curves, meanwhile, are hugged by a diamond bracelet, sprinkled with pink diamonds, that can also be worn around the wrist.

details of the box by Cartier artisans for Homo Faber

Details from the creation process

(Image credit: TBC)

Artisan engraver-sculptor Philippe Nicolas brings his years of experience to the delicate process of glyptics. After receiving the title of maître d’art from the French Ministry of Culture in 2008, Nicolas is dedicated to passing on his extensive knowledge, and since joining Cartier in 2010, has headed a workshop where he trains apprentices.

‘Being a maître d’art means that I have made a moral and ethical commitment to pass on my know-how, art and a cultural tradition,’ he says. He brings patience to the delicate art form, with the engraving of a gem taking anything from five months to two and a half years. ‘Our tools are no longer those of humankind’s first steps in the world of sculpture,’ he adds. ‘The biggest advancements in the past 50 years have come from the introduction of diamond tools and the micro-motor.’

pink stone engraving

Artisan from Cartier maison. Lola Moser © Michelangelo Foundation

(Image credit: TBC)

Cartier’s unique piece for Homo Faber also celebrates the art of straw marquetry, where dry stalks of rye are cut, dyed and glued to flat surfaces to make decorative panels. In this piece, a geometric pattern in the pastel hues of cherry blossoms adorns the box, visible once the bracelet has been removed.

‘It is interesting to show that the creation can be a collective work if there is respect on each point,’ Rainero says. ‘Sometimes we see constraints, but we love challenges and we love to create new things.’


Homo Faber is taking place until 1 May 2022

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.