Last chance to see: Van Cleef & Arpels celebrates movement at the Design Museum

Discover fluidity in high jewellery at The ‘Art of Movement, Van Cleef & Arpels’ exhibition at the Design Museum

A selection of gold necklaces and assorted jewellery displayed against an abstract background
(Image credit: Image courtesy Kalory Photo & Video)

Van Cleef & Arpels takes a deep dive into its history with a celebration of dance in the exhibition ‘Art of Movement, Van Cleef & Arpels’. Taking place at London’s Design Museum, it intertwines the maison’s exquisite dance-inspired pieces - including Louis Arpels’ favourite Dancer clips - with its support of the arts, most recently expressed in this year’s Dance Reflections Festival.

‘First, we started with the story,’ Lise Macdonald, Van Cleef & Arpels director of heritage and exhibitions tells us. ‘Once we have that in mind, then we look at the space. I like how the museum has managed to turn a fleeting moment into an eternal form. It's about transforming the ephemeral into the eternal. And I would hope visitors feel a sense of amazement, of beauty and poetry. It will transport them into seeing that jewellery making is a true art form of its own.’

Gold Van Cleef & Arpels watch with a small clock face surrounded by clear and red gemstones.

(Image credit: Image courtesy Van Cleef & Arpels)

Visitors are invited to discover a treasure trove of archival pieces, from the unique Zip necklace designed in the Thirties and produced in 1950, to the textured gold of 1964’s Trois Clochettes clip and Egyptian-style bracelets from the Twenties, which draw lotuses resting on the water in precious gems.

Jewels are set against a swirling, couture-inspired backdrop. The decor, designed by Faire Agency in collaboration with Les Ateliers Lognon, unites jewels with exquisite pleated fabrics in pastel hues. Upon arriving, visitors trace the curves of a ribbon as it unfurls throughout the rooms, uniting the four parts of the exhibition.

A pair of diamond studded floral inspired clips displayed against an abstract background.

(Image credit: Image courtesy Kalory Photo & Video)

‘When we were preparing for the dance festival, we thought it would be interesting to work on this idea of dance and movement, but in a larger sense. And this is how the conversation with the Design Museum started,’ adds president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels, Nicolas Bos. ‘I really love this museum, and it is an opportunity to focus on one specific aspect - the significance that movement can have in our world, be it the physicality of movement, when you have mechanisms and moving parts, or the evocation of movement, in a figurative way, like the ballerinas. Or sometimes in a more abstract manner, with pieces from the Sixties and Seventies. It was an intellectual exercise to curate the collections according to one specific aspect of value.’

A gold statuette figure decorated with pearls, diamonds and red gemstones.

(Image credit: Image courtesy Van Cleef & Arpels)

For Bos, the Design Museum was a natural home for the exhibition thanks to its diverse exploration of design. ‘It's very exciting. It's always one of the objectives that we keep pretty much across all initiatives - to talk to the widest possible audience. Whether we’re talking about joy, or when we talk about dance, when we talk about craftsmanship or nature. Maybe because of the commercial aspect of our world it feels a bit more exclusive, or sometimes intimidating or secret. When we are working on this type of big initiative, you want it to be as open as possible in a museum that's very open. It's free, and there will be some lovers of jewellery but also experts and amateurs, families and children - I really hope they all come and enjoy the exhibition.’

A matching necklace, bracelet and clip set made out of gold globes and diamonds

(Image credit: Image courtesy Kalory Photo & Video)


'The Art of Movement, Van Cleef & Arpels' is on at the Design Museum, London, until October 20th 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.