Lorenz Bäumer

Place Vendôme-based jeweller Lorenz Bäumer tells ISBN why flowers are out and geometric is in for the immediate future of high jewellery
Do clients come to you as they think you understand them better than anyone else. So the relationship goes beyond mere jeweller and client. Is that so?

Funny that you might describe that because that’s exactly how I feel about my job. Often when somebody comes to me, we talk about jewellery for five or 10 minutes and then we talk about a variety of things. You do become a part of their lives, but I think that’s exactly how a jeweller should be, because you’re dealing with very intimate things.

What’s most rewarding about that process?

It’s up to me to fine tune what people want or like. What I find most rewarding is when I’m able to change somebody’s perception or point of view on how they see themselves; so maybe they love very baroque Christian Lacroix-type of clothes and then I’ll show them something extremely geo- metric and they’ll say: “oh no, I don’t like that”, but I’ll think it’s really good so I’ll encourage them to pick it up, play with it, take it home and see how they feel. The next day they’ll come back and say they loved the ring and that they just bought themselves a beautiful Alaïa [Azzedine] dress to go with it.
Lorenz Bäumer

Photo © Fred Marigaux

Is it harder to work out women or men when it comes to taste in jewellery and what they want? 

It’s easier to work out women because they mostly buy for themselves. Men buy for women, but it may be a wife, gir- friend, mistress, etc. So what’s harder for me is to show the men that they don’t always know the right thing to buy and of course it’s impossible for some of them to know what to buy.

Is there a quintessential Lorenz Bäumer piece?

You always think about what you’re going to do, what’s next. At some point there’s always something I specifically like. Right now, it’s the ring called Mikado, which is geometric. It’s exactly what people want today and is the jewellery of tomorrow. People are sick and tired of the little flowers - they’re attractive yes, but there’s a change from art nouveau to art deco and we’re at that place where the immediate future is geometric.

You said jewellery designers got lazy in the 1980's. Why had they got lazy and how did you change things? 

I think it’s because they were not challenged. Everybody was doing the same thing in the 80’s, simpler things, so there was that opening, that gap, which is something we started at Chanel. Doing very creative jewellery that was different from what was around; at the beginning everybody said: “oh it’s never going to work, it’s too different”. But it did work and it caught people out and then they had to catch up and everybody followed.

You were given a lot of freedom to create for Chanel?

Chanel were very brave and they’re privately owned. On the other hand, it happened a little by chance too. They had to stick it through for quite a few years before it started doing well for them, and the reason for that was they thought of heightening the image of the brand, which is what everybody thinks when they do high jewellery. Karl Lagerfeld did the Chanel t-shirt; he did 100 in Paris and they made two million in China. All of a sudden Chanel were worried about the image of the brand and that’s one of the solutions they had found. So they were not even thinking of business, they were thinking of image.

Were you spotted by Karl or someone else, is that how you came to work there? 

They were looking for a designer. I was just giving it a shot. They said ‘show us what you can do’. I did a few designs, then a bit more. It’s not like they said: ‘okay, we’ve got 50 stores, fill them’. So we started with one little store and a couple of designs and they tried to pick their strategies and we tried a few different things out.

Has it got harder to do your own stuff given LVMH demand since you started freelancing for them? 

I try to do two different styles but it’s all coherent because it’s me. I work with the DNA of Louis Vuitton which is inspired by travelling, monogram flowers, things I can repeat in their heritage. For my world, it’s like poet, architect, gardener - those are the three universes I draw my inspiration from.

What are your top three bookmarks?

The best of the best and the most interesting is Pep Talks. I love that because you can spend time with the most amazing people in the world. I love a site called Luxury Culture, [by Assouline] I really love that one. Then there’s another one which is a surfing podcast, it has 50 minutes of the best waves and I’ll watch that. It’s really fun and very different.