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Marvel at a stunning showcase which celebrates the intricate craftsmanship behind the creation of luxury pieces

Fashion exhibition maker and curator Judith Clark illuminates the human craftsmanship skills behind precious objects created by 15 world renowned luxury Maisons

Judith Clark Curator - Laila Pozzo©Michelangelo Foundation

• Showcasing the fine craftsmanship of 15 luxury Maisons that make fine watches and jewellery, shoes, bags, haute couture, kimonos, perfumes and more

• Intimate, custom-made studio spaces inspired by the painting of Saint Jerome in his Study by Antonello da Messina, showcased at the London National Gallery. Visitors can observe the master artisans as they craft magnificent objects

• Exquisite examples of luxury products interconnected with one another via a subtle, evocative thread, also highlighting an exploration of Japan’s influence on European craftsmanship

In Details: Genealogies of Ornament, Judith Clark, the renowned fashion exhibition designer and curator, presents the transformative power of craftsmanship. The multi-layered exhibition, located in the expansive Sale del Convitto, showcases the craftsmanship of 15 luxury Maisons that make fine watches and jewellery, shoes and other leather goods, haute couture, kimonos, perfumes and more. Visitors can observe master artisans at work in intimate studio spaces inspired by Antonello da Messina’s painting of Saint Jerome in his study. A watchmaker from Vacheron Constantin, a shoemaker from Salvatore Ferragamo or a kimono-maker from Chiso, among others, will reveal the secret gestures necessary to create unique pieces. Beautifully crafted wall panels and specially made floor tiles reflect the heritage of each craft and its tools.

At the centre of each of the two large rooms are museum spaces that display exquisite examples of craftsmanship in customised cabinets. These spaces, which Clark calls Constellations, explore Japan’s influence on European artisans and allow disparate objects to interact. The Constellations create parallels between centuries and objects, creating inspirational genealogies. A historic kimono made by Chiso is on one hand leading to its own painting workshop, but behind it a Chanel gown from 1927 inspired by Japan, on loan from the Kyoto Costume Institute, leads back to Lemarié’s atelier, Chanel’s craft house.

As a curator and exhibition maker, Clark knows that visitors enter the room with their own histories and associations. She celebrates and builds on this in Details: Genealogies of Ornament by working a series of free associations into the exhibition. “An obi made for a kimono might become a detail on a precious brooch”, she explains. “We start to imagine a kind of genealogy of design that draws attention to different incarnations of symbols.”

Exciting and also challenging, says Clark, is that the exhibition presents 15 Maisons that not only make very different products but bring diverse traditions to the conversation. The power of Homo Faber, she believes, is to explore what those in fine craftsmanship have in common.

“Homo Faber always looks at the person in the process. It looks at the skill, the very human skill that goes into producing these wonderful objects.” – Judith Clark

Artisan from Hermès - Christophe Coenon©Hermès Part of the exhibition is dedicated to presenting the craft of exhibition making itself. Students from City and Guilds of London Art School will demonstrate a panel being carved or a mannequin being prepared. This echoes the larger theme of the exhibition, says Clark: “It calls attention to the fact that the whole process is made by human hands.”

Maisons in the exhibition

1. Alaïa
2. A. Lange & Söhne, watchmaking
3. Aquaflor, perfumery
4. Cartier, métiers d'art
5. Chiso, kimono
6. Ermenegildo Zegna, men’s tailoring
7. Hermès, silk
8. Jaeger-LeCoultre, watchmaking
9. Maison Lemarié, feathers and flowers
10. Piaget, the art of gold crafting
11. Salvatore Ferragamo, shoemaking
12. Serapian, leather goods
13. Van Cleef & Arpels, jewellery
14. Vacheron Constantin, watchmaking
15. Valextra, leather goods

Details: Genealogies of Ornament is set in the Sale del Convitto exhibition area at Fondazione Giorgio Cini. It is one of 17 exhibitions that comprise Homo Faber, organised by the Michelangelo Foundation.

Notes for editors
Homo Faber
Crafting a more human future
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
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Homo Faber is the main event organised by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, an international non-profit organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, which was set up to celebrate and preserve master craftsmanship around the world and strengthen its connection to design. Rooted in a tradition of culture and excellence and in the realities and challenges of today’s global economy, the foundation aims to support those who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of master craftsmanship and to foster a new cultural movement built around the values that are essential for their work. The Foundation focuses on Europe as a starting point for its activities, in recognition that craftsmanship has been a vital part of the economic and cultural fabric of the region for centuries, providing both a rich heritage and a competitive advantage in a global world.

Judith Clark
Judith Clark is a curator and fashion exhibition designer and currently Professor of Fashion and Museology at University of the Arts London, where she co-directs the Centre for Fashion Curation. Clark opened the first experimental gallery of fashion in London. Since then she has curated 40 exhibitions of dress. Commissioning museums include the V&A in London, ModeMuseum in Antwerp and Palazzo Pitti in Florence. In 2015 she curated and designed the inaugural exhibition at La Galerie Louis Vuitton in Asnières. In 2018 she created the Fashion Inside and Out exhibition for the inaugural Homo Faber. Clark lectures internationally on issues of dress display.

Collaborating on Homo Faber with the Michelangelo Foundation are partner organisations that share its vision including: the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, and The Japan Foundation.

Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte
The Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte is a private, non-profit institution founded in 1995. Based in Milan, it promotes cultural, scientific and educational initiatives for the protection and diffusion of artistic crafts. The Fondazione Cologni’s mission is to inspire a “new Renaissance” of the artistic crafts and rescue them from the threat of extinction. Many of its initiatives focus on young people and training future generations of artisans.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini
The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is a non-profit cultural institution based in Venice, Italy. Established by Vittorio Cini in 1951 with the aim of creating an international cultural centre re-integrating the San Giorgio Maggiore Island into the life of Venice and the region, today it is an important centre of humanistic studies and encourages the creation and development of educational, social, cultural and artistic institutions in the surrounding territory.

The Japan Foundation
The Japan Foundation, established in 1972, in Tokyo develops international cultural exchange programmes globally. The foundation’s aim is to promote Japanese culture to the world through programmes and activities in the following categories: art, cultural exchange, Japanese-language education and Japanese studies. The foundation has a global network, with 25 overseas branches in 24 countries. As part of their cultural programme, the foundation offers successful applicants support in the form of grants, research scholarships and training opportunities.

Artisan from Cartier_Vincent Wulveryck©Cartier Artisan from Chiso©Chiso Artisan from Ermenegildo Zegna©Ermenegildo Zegna Artisan from Hermes_Christophe Coenon©Hermes Artisan from Lange&Sohne_Ribbing©A. Lange & Söhne Artisan from Maison Lemarié©Anne Combaz Artisan from Piaget_Etienne Delacrétaz©Piaget Artisan from Salvatore Ferragamo©Salvatore Ferragamo Artisan from Serapian©Serapian Artisan from Valextra©Marco Cappelletti Engraving©Vacheron Constantin ZIP Antique Artisan from VCA©Van Cleef & Arpels SA Artisan from Jaeger LeCoultre©Jaeger LeCoultre Judith Clark Curator_Laila Pozzo©Michelangelo Foundation