'Have nothing on your body that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful or love,’ reads an inscription daubed on the walls of Louisa Guinness’ Mayfair gallery. It’s by Ron Arad, appropriated from a quote by William Morris where ‘on your body’ replaces ‘in your house’ and it refers to the jewellery Arad and Guinness have put on show together.
‘Rocks’ is a collection of necklaces, earrings and bracelets that look like they’re made from shards of hefty glass. In fact they’re feather-light hunks of silicone, embedded with shreds of silk scarves, carefully cut up by Arad and arranged in a specific order. ‘Ron has been experimenting with silicone for many years, and the challenge with Rocks was to ensure it doesn’t turn yellow with age,’ explains Guinness.
The pair first met in 2002 when Guinness ran a furniture showroom in Sloane Avenue showing design art from the likes of Arad, Donald Judd and Rolf Sachs. Preferring ‘small, easy to transport objects’, she shifted focus to artist-made jewellery and has commissioned the likes of Gavin Turk and Grayson Perry, Anish Kapoor and Claude Lalanne to create niche pieces.
Nor is 'Rocks' Arad’s first foray into jewellery design. In 2003, he created a range of spiral earrings entitled 'Hot Ingo', and inspired by the lighting of his great pal Ingo Maurer. The collection – which features black, white and red spirals that expand and contract along silver and gold stems – has been reissued using a 3D printer and 18 carat gold. Then there’s 'Naja', a series of magnifying glass pendants made of silver and guilded silver, which coil around smoky and scratchy quartz circles, or ‘lenses’.
‘To me Ron is one of the most versatile designers there is,’ says Guinness. ‘His range is huge; he can create everything from baths to spectacles to delicate jewellery.’ He’s also one of 15 artists with whom Guinness is collaborating this year, and in June the gallery undergoes its biggest transformation yet, with a show of jewellery, miniatures, clocks and bronzes by Claude Lalanne.