Saturday, November 25, 2006

Finding New Ideas: Rattling Around Convention

Everything is Relative

My uncle designed with Marc Jacobs wearable art that rattles. The ring and bracelet fun to play with but are definitely not for children. They ring with the sound of gems hidden inside gold.

Each piece is hand-made and has eight "houses" (read: compartments). In each house sits one gem: if you've got money to burn, you can house eight perfect quarter-carat diamonds; if not, semi-precious stones do the trick quite well.

With every movement, there's a tinkling sound (or rattle), but no one but the wearer knows what's in there. It's fun to hear them jingle (particularly when someone does the most ordinary tasks throughout the day).

What's So Different Here?

Even my grandfather, who came from the diamond business in Belgium (and was not impressed by much), was rather chuffed by the rattle ring and bracelet.

"The only conceptual high-end jewelry ever," he'd say, "was the tennis bracelet. And that didn't have anything to do with tennis -- so really, it doesn't even count." At 95, my grandfather had more respect for the creator of mood rings because the concept part was real. He respected people with imagination.

Why This is Fun, Even Just to Think About

It might seem too obvious to say, but gems have always been symbols of importance and power. If you consider the reason most people buy high-end jewelry, it's to show off what they've got. You can see this in the oldest paintings -- no courtier, king, or even burgher would be painted without as much bling as possible.

Look at Medieval alter pieces -- artistans lent even Mary and the saints gold and fancy jewelry, just to show they were important. Forget the fact that the characters decked out in diamonds were supposed to inspire humility from the collected masses by example.

But that's another discussion.

So What About this Rattle Business?

The rattle collection turns all this on its head: you might like having a secret more than bragging about what you've got. Knowing something is better than showing it. And for me, a sublte and counter-intuitive idea offers pleasure that is greater and lasts longer than a habit whose value has always taken for granted.

What If Every Conventional Idea Were Rattled, Just a Little?

It's worth considering: what other conventional notions of power and importance could be turned upside down (or as in this case, inside out)? What could sustained curiosity inspire?

If you want to know more, send me a note. The pieces will soon be offered in exclusive catalogues for the tremendously wealthy.

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