by Natasha Wolff | October 3, 2019 2:00 pm
Walking into the Tiffany flagship store on Fifth Avenue is always a memorable experience. From the moment you approach that legendary facade and step through the doors, it’s like being transported to another world. On this particular occasion, during a rainy afternoon in June, the kind of day that manages to make even the most glamorous of city streets feel shabby, the usual awe is circumvented by the desire to be out of the weather. But walking past the glass cases on the first floor toward the elevator bank, surrounded by glittering bursts of light reflecting off these precious pieces, a sense of childlike wonder begins to permeate the air.
Five floors up, we are greeted by our first room, the very reason we’ve braved the downpour and the Manhattan traffic. Within it is an artfully displayed Lucite cabinet filled with Tiffany & Co.’s pride and joy: the latest debut of the iconic Blue Book Collection. A series of rooms follows, each one more fantastical than the next, from a mirrored birch forest with sparkling creations nestled within the tree trunks to a stunning room filled with floor-to-ceiling blue hydrangeas that have jewelry twinkling through the blossoms. You feel as if you’ve found yourself on the other side of the looking glass, fully embracing the magic that is Tiffany.
So when the opportunity arose a couple of weeks later to speak with the man behind the exhibit, Richard Moore, Tiffany & Co.’s vice president of global store design and creative visual merchandising, we leaped at the chance to chat about everything that goes into such an astonishing presentation.
Can you share a little about the process of designing the exhibit for the Blue Book Collection?
We wanted to create a space that felt a bit like being Alice in Wonderland, going past this cabinet of curiosities and then entering into a magical dreamlike area. Because the beauty of nature inspires the collection, the idea was to take that and twist it to create an immersive experience for the guests that celebrates each of the pieces and highlights them across the different rooms, with different experiences. The intent was to create an environment that feels like you are not in a store in New York, but are instead in a forest or a bank vault or an installation of hydrangeas. That idea of being able to take people out of the everyday and create something exceptional and unique and exciting is what jewelry is about. You know when you put on a piece from the Blue Book Collection it transports you, it is transformative, and it takes you to another world. That is the intent of the space.
As you mention, nature has played a huge part in the design of this collection. Why do you feel that fine jewelry and natural elements pair so well together?
From the time of our founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, to the organic forms of Elsa Peretti, Tiffany has had this incredible history and heritage using natural motifs. It is very much a central theme of so many of our amazing collections. For jewelry, there is an instinctive femininity to it, a beauty that has a slightly magical quality. I believe you can see that reflected in the pieces from this year’s Blue Book, and hopefully we were able to amplify that and explore it abstractly, designing the physical space for the exhibit.
In your opinion, what are some of the standout pieces from the collection, and how did they inform your design process?
The thing that’s remarkable about this year’s collection, and new from previous years, is the idea of these incredible vessels. We made the cabinet of curiosities that is the first room of the press preview, where each of these spectacular pieces of jewelry comes with its own container, whether it’s an envelope made of sterling silver, a mason jar, or a birdhouse. The idea of creating physical objects that, from a display perspective, give the pieces of jewelry a context and an environment to live within or adjacent to speaks to an extension of our craftsmanship and heritage at Tiffany. The fact that these vessels have been made in our hollowware shop in Rhode Island—labored over for many hours to create these amazing pieces—just adds such an incredible dimension to the jewelry, this idea of something that is almost a keepsake, something that is so precious you’ve put it into a jar or you have slipped it into an envelope. I think that tells a wonderful narrative for the importance of these pieces. And then to make them in sterling silver and gold just adds to the value and the splendor of the jewelry pieces.
The installation was so magical. What was your favorite room? And which was the most challenging to create?
The forest room is the most memorable in many ways, because I think it’s just such a great experience. It feels like being in an enchanted forest, and then you have these fantastic pieces embedded within a tree trunk that create an amazing visual perspective. I love the hydrangea room, but that was probably one of the most complicated to create because of sourcing the custom artwork and the floral component and keeping that alive within the installation. The team has done an amazing job of taking one idea and really wrapping an entire space in it, or embodying a feeling or an emotion and creating an entire space around that.
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