Monday, November 8, 2010

FRITZ MAIERHOFER

Revered as one of Austria’s “most important Baroque buildings of the 18th century” the Belevedere Palace is a wonder of exquisite architecture noted for its spectacular painted ceilings and sculptures. Austria is also home to featured jewelry designer Fritz Maierhofer.


Though there is no denying the classic beauty of a pearl choker or diamond bracelet, I must say that I thoroughly enjoy seeing a designer do something completely unexpected and innovative.

Maierhofer’s illustrious career spans 55 years and is punctuated by his willingness to explore and combine varied materials that include tin, acrylic, gold, aluminum, and steel.

The contemporary jewelry artist began his career at 14-years old working as an apprentice to Vienna-based goldsmith Anton Heldwein.

Even at such a tender age, it was evident Maierhofer possessed the soul of an innovator and by age 24 he seceded Heldwein as the workshop’s adminsistrator.

In the years to follow, which included building a watch collection for London watch brand Omega in 1967, Maierhofer began experimenting with brass and acrylic, aluminum and acrylic, as well as steel and acrylic.

His goal was to stretch his imagination in order to impart something personal to his jewelry collections that would ultimately touch upon the emotional connection a wearer has for a piece.

“Jewelry is a medium that can send messages,” says the designer, “I succeeded in emancipating myself from the prevailing attitudes about jewelry to implement my own ideas and themes.


The relationship between an item of jewelry and the wearer is intense which means the wearer’s emotions passes on another set of signals and messages to the jewelry.”

Though his aesthetic leans heavily towards geometric lines, and architectural components like girders, Maierhofer’s design approach is not conventional. He incorporates surface etchings, mechanistic structures, abstract forms and a surprising array of color to build his highly distinctive jewelry pieces.

The Metal Drawing Collection features engraved jewelry items of gold and silver; the linear surface designs of which resemble the markings on aviation maps. Due to their clean, crisp outlines there is a somewat cold feel to these designs, as well as his other metal pieces. However, there is no lacking of strong visuals.

Where the solely metallic collections are a bit mechanistic, Maierhofer’s Corian and Acrylics collections enlist an array of bright colors, and free forms that exude a lively playfulness. In this light, the brooches, plastic bracelets, and necklaces from the Acrylic Collection resemble tiny toys.

The DuPont-produced material Corian is the central component for the collection of the same name. The brooch and ring designs favor strong abstract, sculptural forms that resemble coral, sea sponges, crystals and even candy.

What you notice about Maierhofer’s jewelry is how unlike jewelry it is. You see objects or semblances completely unrelated to jewelry, and as is the tendency of ultra modern jewelry his designs challenge your perceptions.

“What is relevant and important to me is the inner, really true value of the material I am using.
It should show its true characteristics: a clear, provocative statement without compromises.”
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Photo 1 (top right): Corian, Gold and Acrylic Ring from Corian CollectionPhoto 2 (center): Sterling Silver and Gold Brooch form Metal Drawing CollectionPhoto 3 (bottom left): Gold and Acrylic Bracelet from Acrylics Collection
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