Marc Monzó (Barcelona, 1973) works meticulously in his small workshop in Poble Nou, almost as tiny as the jewellery he creates influenced by his passion for miniatures. His work is often described as clean and clever, poetic, elegant and playful. Monzó has just been awarded with the Françoise van der Bosch prize for Best European Jeweller 2016, an achievement not without merit by the Catalan artist. In good2b we have interviewed him.
You’ve just been awarded with the prestigious Françoise van der Bosch 2016 award. How was this regarded in Barcelona, where jewellery isn’t very popular?
Even though I don’t like the word, it’s a real honor because it’s an award given to artists speaking new languages in order to take the discipline beyond the borders within it leaves today.
“My pieces fit very well in the Japanese and North European markets”
Could you explain a bit more about the importance of this award…
Françoise van der Bosch was a very good jewellery maker. When she died, her family established a foundation that gives an annual award to help spread the work of artists and support jewellery makers by buying the work of new talents. The award means they give you money and buy your pieces to be shown at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk modern art museum. Moreover, the foundation organizes different retrospective exhibitions of artists—the latest one went to Coda, for example- and then it travels to your city. So my work will be on show in Holland and then it will come to Barcelona.
Your work is hard to find in Barcelona…
I think there’s a piece at the Museum of Decorative Arts, and that’s all.
However, it is well regarded abroad. You’re given an award in the Netherlands, show you work in exhibitions in Berlin and they like you a lot in Japan. Why’s that?
My pieces fit very well in the Japanese and North European markets. But I never planned anything. They are very passionate about decorative arts there, something that doesn’t happen here. There are more degrees related with this, it’s more present in their lives. I guess the language or the scenarios I use have made it easier for my work to reach those markets.
Despite your international success, your work is influenced by Catalan culture…
Yes, everything I do has some strong Catalan influence—Frederic Mompou’s music, Joan Miró’s paintings, Josep Lluís Sert’s architecture…
Are there other influences?
Yes, all my trips to the US, South America and Africa when I was a kid. We used to travel to Africa a lot and that’s influenced my work greatly.
“Everything I do has some strong Catalan influence—Frederic Mompou’s music, Joan Miró’s paintings, Josep Lluís Sert’s architecture…”
When did you decide you wanted to make jewellery?
I was all a bit by chance. Since I was a kid I’ve always felt drawn by small objects. When I was 19 I studied at Massana and saw the jewellery’s working desks and decided I wanted to work there because everything was very small. In fact, I started making tiny objects and instead of jewels because I thought jewellery making had many limitations.
Who made you discover it didn’t have limitations?
I went to a Karl Fritsch exhibition that changed my vision of jewellery making. I realized I could do what I wanted and so I became a jewellery maker.
You’ve been appointed creative director of jewellery brand Misui. Could this affect your creative process. What can you contribute with to the brand?
Unión Suiza, responsable for the project, was celebrating its 175 anniversary and wanted to go back to its origins and Joan Gomis contacted me. I wasn’t sure at the beginning because I didn’t want to make trends, but the projects soon took a nice shape. I was a challenge in all senses because Unión Suiza is a propriety, so my work had to define it, but also express something about me.
“I just make my stuff, regardless of seasons and trends.”
You even designed a piece to fight against cancer…
This was perhaps my greatest challenge because it had to be more than just a concept. However, Unión Suiza didn’t want me to lower the level of the rest of the collection.
Going back to trends, your work is oblivious to seasons. Are you againt them?
I’m not against trends, it’s just that I don’t know how to do it. I just make my stuff, regardless of seasons and trends.
What are your plans for 2016?
I have an exhibition in Tokyo in the spring, and then a group exhibition at the German Wo Alles Anfängt gallery. In January 2017 I have a solo exhibition in Melbourne.
How’s your creative process?
When making jewellery there’re two options: you have an idea and search for the materials or find materials that take you to places you’d never expected.
Your favourite hotspots…
Collserola for bike rides and the restaurant Una Mica de Japó (C/Aragón, 104).
I don’t know if I’d ban it, but I feel quite uneasy about the Sagrada Familia and what’s happening around it.
You never thought you’d end up…
You can’t stop listening to…
Being at peace