our philosophy

The interdisciplinary debate that has been going on in many places for decades, about what jewellery is, crafts, design or art? has significantly contributed to sharpening the profile of our department within the framework of the Bologna process. The re-thinking of the task of jewellery, as we interpret and understand it today, leads to a focussing position, which is defined i.a. by an investigation of the relationships to neighboring areas:

  • Jewellery is not craft. Although there is an intersection with the central position of masterly skill there, the contemporary jewellery focus is different.
  • Jewellery is not design. There is an intersection with the central position of a fashionable aestheticization and its successful marketing - the contemporary jewellery focus is different.
  • Jewellery is not free art. Although there is an intersection with the central position of "existence out of oneselve" - the contemporary jewellery focus is different.

However, our aim is not to draw lines of demarcation or to sharpen them, and thus to rethink the question of the identity of jewellery makers only in the context of already existing but not sufficient catalogues of criteria in other fields. Because, as in jewellery, handicraft and art, extensive specialization harbors the danger of inner failure:

In an interview in the "Zeit"  from March 2008, Philippe Starck states: "Everything I've designed is absolutely unnecessary. Structurally, design is completely useless. () Design is nothing. I tried to give my products some sense and energy. Even though I did my best, it was useless."[1]

With the above quote, Starck not only questions his entire work; Design as a source of objects and products that are free of any possible meaning and therefore no real contribution to this world, he rejects the raison d'être. This point of view is easily applicable to contemporary perceptions in the various areas of jewellery in which, in the last 40 years, there has been a total removal of societal, identity-creating meaning in both jewellery, fashion, and artist or so-called author jewellery.

The aim is therefore to formulate an approach that leads, even in the context of the recently increased demand for interdisciplinarity, to an independent approach to an extended spectrum of possibilities.

Jewellery is applied art

The education of the students happens elementarily on an artistic basis - leading to their social task regarding decoration and jewellery. In addition to the artistic basis, gemstones and jewellery also need the skills of craftsmanship in the sense of suitable perfection and elements of design in the sense of functional aesthetics and a suitable marketing strategy.

In retrospect, it is actually amazing that our industry in the last century in such a question of their own identity and sometimes could get lost in it, because the task of the jewellery is actually extremely clear. Jewellery is proven to be the oldest artistic expression of man in terms of his social consciousness: hints to the bodies can already be found on the earliest cave paintings, which are the concept of jewellery in the sense of an identity-defining distinction in the group but also its semantic counterpart - the concept of jewellery in the sense of a group - / tribal affiliation - document. Instead, using temporal and cultural changes of perspective, one should consider the place or role these individuals held in society, the social knowledge they combined to be able to do, the objects, totems, amulets etc. to charge. For our task (the design of the degree courses), the following question arises: how can we activate the social-societal empathic competences in the study, which are necessary for our job profile - in view of the present time and the globalized society or generate and stimulate?

In modern society, dealing with the creation of personal meaning carriers is largely left to craft and design. Jewellery is therefore generally created, considered and evaluated under an incomplete set of criteria - in particular incomplete as regards the social role of jewellery.

Task & responsibility

As a personal object, jewellery indisputably needs a social - distinctive or connecting - level of meaning, which is also reflected in consumer needs and expectations. The field of study actively builds on such levels of meaning and, in addition to artistic and artistic education, provides a profound analysis of societal, (inter) cultural, ethnological, sociological and historical issues.

The determination of the intersections of art, craft and design, the question of the meaning of jewellery or the social task of such personal objects and the resulting search for the social responsibility of jewellery makers all together form a potential for knowledge and awareness. So it makes sense to first reclaim your own (free) space or a long-established term for the search for answers, solutions and results: applied art. The self-conception of one's own terrain, created by means of such a free space, then offers clearer perspectives for updating and meaningfully fulfilling the previously formulated task in modern society.

The location is currently in the middle of this discussion - wanting to apply for the submitted courses as a "Fine Arts", so far no departure to new shores. On the contrary, it is more an adaptation of the description of the current state of the offers. The development in terms of subject matter and personnel, which has shaped the study of gemstones and jewellery since the turn of the millennium, makes such a new positioning possible for the first time as part of this (re-) accreditation procedure.

Applied art in teaching

The essence of the teaching can be found in the Latin word 'professio': statement, explanation. For professors in the field of gemstone and jewellery, this means giving an explanation of their own beliefs that is not easily accepted by students in all circumstances. This attitude consciously creates the tensions that accompany "deprived" learning that stimulates intrinsic learning, a space of friction that enables students to determine their own location or position and gain sovereignty and autonomy.

"Teaching in the field of art does not aim for pleasure or for the sovereignty of students as consumers of knowledge." [2] This required study attitude leads as an operative concept to the strategic meta-goal of the critical artist or the critical artist apparent opposition to the abandonment of jewelry in society. These seemingly contradictory phenomena - that of the one hand self-sufficient and self-centered on the one hand and the socially-empathic artist - on the other hand, it is necessary to unite.

The Idar-Oberstein campus is such a place of confrontation in the field of tension between artistic education on the one hand and academic teaching and research on the other. In the various study programs in the field of gemstone and jewellery, as well as in the "Gemstone and Jewellery, MFA", the possibility of artistic and scientific qualification is offered. With this offer, the field of study occupies this field of applied art and places itself in the context of the social role of adorning their tasks and questions on a formal-artistic and content-social level. This enables graduates to actively develop sustainable action scenarios for dealing with contemporary personal symbols in the form of "portable objects".

The study program is based on qualification objectives that include subject-specific and interdisciplinary aspects in the areas of artistic aptitude, civic engagement and personality development. In addition to the promotion of professional competence, the promotion of artistic competence, communication skills, method orientation, coordination, organisational and moderation competence in terms of artistic ability is promoted. The central task and guiding idea of ​​the discipline is therefore to develop and provide design and thought structures of artistic action oriented to and for the societal and cultural requirements of the 21st century. The learning field aimed at the development of the artistic identity specified above is characterized by a highly intercultural environment (the students come from around 20 different countries) and a variety of communicative learning and teaching situations.

Identity: artistic responsibility in society

The artistic identity of jewellery makers can not be defined as "somewhere in the middle between autonomous art, design and craft".

By means of an extended qualification, graduates should have been enabled to first focus on the different roles of the wearer, the observers and the jewellery creators. There is consensus that art must ask questions in a certain necessary abstraction. Design, on the other hand, ideally delivers usable and functional, aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable tools. Jewellery has the unique nature of enabling us (as bearer or viewer) to create an intrinsic link between our (social, ethnic, geographic, emotional, etc.) origins and our current environment. This creates opportunities to perceive changes in our environment and to react adequately.

In order to get the work of art to trigger it, other levels of work have to be included than just those that ask questions about form, color, material, production and marketing. For this purpose, students are enabled to actively and sustainably link their sensual experiences with their thoughts and actions within society. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that while the exclusive focus on one's own artistic and thus emotional compass may often have a certain therapeutic effect, it often fails to meet the actual work objective from a societal point of view and is therefore rather problematic The point at which many jewellery makers who have been trained in the past few decades and are practicing today stumble: for example Ted NOTEN notes self-reflective:

"For me it's the highest score if the piece is worn - in the imagination, it can be enough! But a piece of jewellery should go beyond the personal and therapeutic in making your own story frame. "[3]

In order to meet adequately the demands of an expanded socio-empathic identity in the work, beyond the aesthetic position, jewellery should contain at least ethical-philosophical aspects that somehow reflect our current society. For this, an implicit discourse is needed on a meta-level between the socio-social positioning of the artists and their respective work with regard to symbolism, semantics and last but not least the own iconography. When this discourse takes place, the artist is, as it were, subject to the implicit (self-) obligation to question, evaluate, and revise and update one's own work and artistic strategies, so that social meaning can continue to exist within a contemporary context can be.

To put it simply, artists reflect the society around them, or social processes and sensitivities, by creating a work. The work gains a place within society and changes it. The society reacts, the artists register the reaction and put their experience into further work. This process is - as it is a cycle - almost inexhaustible and has traits of a "perpetual motion". The result of such a cycle is a permanent update of the objects, a permanent change that is part of the spiritual evolution. In this way, art - in this case jewellery - remains in connection with society. And not primarily directed by marketing strategies, mercantile values ​​or fashionable short-livedness. Free of aesthetic bluntness, this approach can provide models with the implicit intention of making the ongoing mental, emotional and / or societal evolution relatively short-term. Such identity-creating action models are not only useful for art / Schmuckrezipierende but also for art / jewellery creators particularly profitable. Without such models, the works created are purely academic and devoid of any function or, in principle, stop being jewellery.

[1] „Ich schäme mich dafür" - Die Zeit, Ausgabe 14, 2008, http://www.zeit.de/2008/14/Designer-Starck-14
[2] „Das Konsumierenden-Modell unterstellt, dass die Hochschule 'Dienstleistungen' anbietet. Seminare und Kurse werden nach den Bedürfnissen von Studierenden entwickelt, die sich selbst als Konsumierenden verstehen, die sich ganz bequem und ohne große Anstrengung eben wie beim Shopping ihren Abschluss holen.“ ("New Media Education and Its Discontent" von T. Scholz)
[3]  Ted Noten, ART AUREA 3/2010

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