Solange Azagury-Partridge has had several of her jewelry designs snapped up by Paris’s Musée du Louvre. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has her Hotlips and Supernature rings in its collection. In 2003 she was the only fashion and accessories creator nominated for the Designer of the Year award by London’s Design Museum. So it makes perfect sense that through November Azagury-Partridge will have an exhibit of her own at the Sebastian + Barquet gallery in New York’s Chelsea.
The show is more than just a bunch of baubles in a nicely lit art setting. And it’s not a retrospective, though that was one idea tossed around when co-owner Ramis Barquet, whose wife is a longtime jewelry client of Azagury-Partridge’s, first suggested a show early last year. “Ramis made this proposal to me, and I couldn’t refuse,” the designer recalls. “He basically said I could do whatever I wanted.”
What Azagury-Partridge wanted was furniture. That’s right, the woman best known for her edgy rocker ethos expressed in fine jewelry, not to mention her three-year stint as creative director at Boucheron, is making the leap into home decor. The seven-week-long exhibition, christened “Unwearable Jewels,” consists of everything from tables and wall hangings to carpeting and a faceted disco ball. All of which, of course, are inspired by Azagury-Partridge’s original finery. In fact, many of the items on view are gargantuan reinterpretations of her jewelry and also made from precious and semiprecious gemstones. For example, she has turned her diamond watch dial into a giant clock with rock crystals in lieu of actual ice. And the bronze, brass and crystal Ballcrusher lamp is a functional version of her ring of the same name, which features a pearl placed in a talon-shaped prong setting. As for the wall hangings, those familiar with the Londoner’s oeuvre will recognize them as the ornaments on many of her more famous rings, merely removed and enlarged. To wit, there are few differences between her Rainbow ring and plaque, save for the fact that the latter is wallworthy.
Despite the nature of the works in “Unwearable Jewels,” one can nix any thoughts about Azagury-Partridge chasing that oft-pursued “lifestyle” tag. “These things are made by jewelers,” she says. “The cost and labor are enormous. And they’re not being mass-produced. It’s the lifestyle of, what, 10 people in the world?” Though Azagury-Partridge doesn’t dismiss going down that path eventually (“possibly...one day,” she says), this exhibit is largely about casting her work in an art context. “Those wall pieces are like paintings in a way,” she says. “But they’ve been painted with colors of stones rather than with pigment.