Recent visits to the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin and the Mies Van der Rohe and James Stirling exhibition ‘Circling the Square’ at the RIBA in London have inspired Lil to consider the design power of basic geometric shapes.
Shapes can be fascinating and inspiring and their simple, dynamic qualities can be enough to inspire a lifetime of jewellery making. A triangle is nature’s strongest shape and is often utilised in construction and engineering. The artist Giotto was considered a genius for his perfect drawing of a freehand circle, so it’s potentially worth practising in your spare time to fast track your Mensa application. Squares have much to recommend them too; they are regular, reliable, foldable and mathematically very handy.
Kandinsky, who began teaching at the Bauhaus experimental art school in 1922, believed in a system where certain shapes attributed themselves to particular colours. He felt that yellow belonged as a triangle, squares should be red and circles blue. He also had some interesting feelings about green. Sadly he felt this colour was self-satisfied, like a fat cow, but with hidden strength. I love green, but also cows, so maybe he was onto something.
The current exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects, documents the debates of one site in the City of London. Here we can see two architects, designing years apart and in different styles, result in one building after decades of controversy. Architectural drawings and meticulously conserved and reconstructed models illustrate the project’s processes with accompanying videos and paraphernalia to contextualise the building that never was and the one that might never have been. Both schemes have a lot to recommend them in terms of ‘shapespiration’ (inspiration from shapes, hoping this will catch on), from Mies’s famous quote ‘Less is more’ to the handling of Stirling’s building that now stands at No.1 Poultry, with its interplay of shape and colour. If Stirling’s sketches don’t leave you inspired and the beautiful 1930’s building of the RIBA headquarters doesn’t hit the spot, hopefully some of my favourite shapely jewellery finds below will.
Thinking just about within the box with this circle band trapped in a cube ring by Etsuko Sonobe.
Kioko Hashimoto allows this circular cabochon to brazenly defy its true (Kandinsky designated) colour.
Rhona McCallum shows us how to circle with squares with this angular silver marvel.
Not so square-jeweller Amy Glenn utilises these two handy shapes in her edgy ring designs.
Boxing clever or circling the drain? Let us know how your projects are going in the comments below. Are you inspired by geometric shapes? How do they relate to your designs?
Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.