Back towards the end of last year, Belgian leathergoods house Delvaux teamed up with jewellery designers Wouters & Hendrix to create this transformative bracelet that owes its origins to leather but materialises in the shape of a supple silver piece entitled ’embrace’. We sat down with the designing duo back in December to find our more about the collaboration…
How did the cooperation develop? What do you like about Delvaux?
It was Delvaux who approached us and we were very happy about it. We have a lot of respect for this brand and a lot of common denominators, ranging from their respect for material to the way they work and the number of pieces they produce. Everything is hand-made and well-controlled. Delvaux is a label that we already know for a long time, it’s something you grow up with, something our mothers already wore.
How did you choose what kind of piece you wanted to make? What inspired you?
It was important for us to create a link between silver and leather. We needed to translate that somehow. First we thought about making a piece out of leather, but that didn’t feel right. So we decided to transform leather into metal.
You used an antique procedure called the “wax casting method”, can you tell me more about that?
We wanted to use a method that would ensure not to lose any details. Church bells used to be made this way. It’s very rare to find someone who can still do something like that. We found this old man in this old house in Brussels who did an amazing job. It is a very long procedure involving many different steps, and each step poses the risk to lose some of the structure.
There’s also a bump in the bracelet imitating a woman’s wrist knuckle.
We added the bump ourselves by heating up the metal and working it with a hammer. The bump is a typical Wouters & Hendrix feature. We like to add humorous details, make it personal somehow. We don’t take ourselves too serious.
What kind of woman did you have in mind when you designed the bracelet?
It has nothing to do with age but more with an affinity for the piece. Our clients are usually people who don’t buy jewellery just to have it and because they can. For many the pieces are of sentimental value. Some come to us with pieces they bought 20 years ago asking to repair them. There’s always a story behind.
Why did you choose the title “embrace”, what does it signify?
We chose the name because of its double meaning: The bracelet embraces your arm and at the same time the two houses are embracing to work with each other.
Why is it a limited edition?
It’s very difficult and time-consuming to make, every piece is hand-crafted. And we wanted to keep it exclusive. With the moulding method that we talked about earlier you get a lot of unusable samples. Maybe 6 out of 12 pieces turn out the way we want. Not producing too many pieces protects their quality. We consider the bracelet more as an art piece.
How long does it take to make one piece?
For example it took two whole weeks until we got the first sample and after that we work on it about half a day in house.
It’s not exactly cheap – what is luxury for you?
It’s things you have but don’t really need. Something to spoil yourself and to make your life more comfortable.
You’ve been designing for 27 years now – how would you describe your style? What makes your jewellery stand out? What’s your signature touch?
We do classic jewellery with a twist. Also, we love old pieces with an emotional value produces with old techniques. Sometimes we reuse them in combination with contemporary pieces.
How did you two meet?
We studied together in Antwerp but were not really friends at the time. We really liked and respected each other’s work and have learned a lot from each other.
How did you get into jewellery-making and what is it that you like about it?
It is so beautiful because it is something you do with your hands and requires real craftsmanship. And it gives you a real kick when you use an old method and finally get it right. Or the feeling when you make your first ring…Jewellery-making is learning by doing and the passion grows in the process.
‘Embrace’ bracelet (€ 2.100)
Available from Delvaux, Boulevard de Waterloo 29 Waterloosesteenweg, 1000 Brussels