Q&A with SuperWorld Artists-in-Residence: Camille Louise Jewellery and Prism Art Labs

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SUPERWORLD (SW): We are so thrilled to have you both featured as SuperWorld Artists-in-Residence! Thanks so much for agreeing to participate and taking the time to answer these questions. Feel free to ignore or pivot or expand on anything at your leisure.

I promise I won’t ask about your process, because a.) I’m not sophisticated enough to understand it, and b), but I am interested in your learning process. Do you set out to learn something before you create a piece of jewellery, or does learning something (about the world, or a certain story, audience technique, etc.) serve as the catalyst for your designs?

CLM: The gemstones serve as the catalyst when we design our jewellery. Since 1995, along with my father, the late Jean-Louis Merré, we first discovered the world of extraordinary gemstones through our travels across Asia and Sri Lanka. This fascination blazed a trail for the creation of Camille Louise in 2020. We fell in love with gemstones, their colour, their variety, the energy and vibrations that we feel emanating from them truly inspire our designs. We select each stone before the design and the realization phases, we imagine the composition of colours and forms that might suggest the outcome of the jewellery pieces. It’s a different language, we speak with the stones. We are proudly sourcing our stones (mainly sapphires) from our official gemstone partner Sapphirus Lanka Ltd, one of the world’s leading sapphire companies from Ratnapura – the city of gems – and the hub of Sri Lanka’s gem industry. Together, with their invaluable experience in the world of gemstones, spanning 35 years, we aim to deliver the highest quality precision of sapphires in our jewellery creations. The exceptional ethical fancy rainbow sapphires are the trademark of CLJ in a multi-faceted realm.

AD: My daughter and I are always inspired during our travels across the world and visiting museums, art fairs & biennales, and exhibitions. We always strive to express radiance through light, positivity, energy, and beauty when creating our pieces. We value aesthetics, craftsmanship, quality, and sustainability. Above all, we aim to promote Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage and preserve the traditional crafts of cutting sapphires by hand. This technique dates back 3000 years to Ceylon’s traditions. We express our creativity through our elaborate jewellery designs which feature chromatic combinations, and unique hand-cut stones by the team at Sapphirus Lanka. Our designs highlight the transparency of each stone, and in the final phase of the design process, they become one-of-a-kind pieces. The multifaceted stones and variations of the gemstones are truly mesmerising, as the light shines through, the jewellery comes to life.

SW: Many of your pieces are so technically intricate and sophisticated without being gaudy; I imagine there is a sustained temptation to tinker and adjust, so how do you determine when a piece of jewellery is “finished”?

CLM: As artists & serial entrepreneurs, we are following a perfectionist process. We always strive towards having the best version in our view of the jewellery we are creating. The creation process can take three to four weeks and sometimes months as we want to showcase the perfect hues in the jewellery to find the perfect set of gemstones. We seek the ideal harmonious prism in our jewellery. Once the set of gemstones is ready, the design follows, and our piece is “finished”. As soon as it’s “finished”, we already see all the details and modifications we want to improve for the next model. It’s a never-ending process.

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AD: We are constantly adapting our jewellery and reinterpreting the esthetic codes for women as they evolve over time and through trends. We strive for excellence; we always look at new gemstone shapes, inspirations, and craftsmanship techniques to implement in our jewellery pieces. Each artisan in both the gem-cutting and manufacturing atelier creates our pieces and bespoke High Jewellery pieces day by day. We are creating art objects that will embellish both women and men. We view our pieces as real works of art that will remain over time, hoping they will be handed down from generation to generation.

SW: Can you explain how you arrived at jewellery design? Was this a long-standing interest, or an offshoot of other creative outlets?

CLM: I grew up in a creative household surrounded by my parents’ passion for the arts, classical music, and engineering. I always knew I would one day embark on a creative journey. Having traveled back and forth to Sri Lanka since 1995, it made perfect sense to me to create my jewellery line with a focus on fancy ethical sapphires. My father was an artist and designer who studied at “Les Beaux Arts du Mans” in France and worked as an illustrator and designer for Chanel, Yves-Saint Laurent, La Fugue, and others in Paris in the sixties. He always told me that he held me while he was painting: my passion for arts started as a toddler. From my mother’s ancestors: among them, Fernand Josse, studied engineering and arts at Centrale in Paris, and Adèle Sophie Lefèbvre, married to the Count & Minister Nicolas Martin du Nord, Commander of the Légion d’Honneur. Adèle was the model for the renowned Geneva artist and sculptor, James Pradier, for the statue representing the city of Lille in 1837, situated on the place of La Concorde in Paris. This deep level of passion has been passed down from generation to generation and left a lasting impression on me. During my Swiss Maturity studies, I attended a short course at Central St Martins School College of Arts & Design in London to specialise in jewellery design and created my first rainbow jewellery collection in 2014. In parallel to my University studies, I started working in Switzerland in sales for Cartier and Sothebys’ jewellery auctions, and continued in public relations for the internationally renowned high-end watches and jewellery fair S.I.H.H (now Watches & Wonders). I had the opportunity to work with Shamballa Jewels in Copenhagen, Hermès in Paris, and in early 2020 as the Community Manager for Baselworld (high-end watch and jewellery fair) now Hour Universe in Basel, Switzerland. In 2018, with my mother Aline d’Ambricourt, we traveled back to Sri Lanka and decided it was the “right” time to launch the French/Swiss brand Camille Louise Jewellery. Creating the jewellery brand was a dream come true, after working in the jewellery and high-end watch industry for the last decade. My parents shared with me their invaluable experience in the world of the arts and craftsmanship. Aline and I both hold the GIA AJP gemmology diploma.

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AD: I have dedicated most of my life to my international music harpsichordist career spanning 30 years. I was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, and educated in Versailles and hold a scientific baccalaureate. I was taught how to play the piano when I was four years old by my mother, Jacqueline Josse.

I have a lot of admiration for the German composer and musician J.S Bach (1685-1757), who inspired me to play the harpsichord at the age of eight and my passion for playing this baroque musical instrument continues to grow until this very day.

I met Camille’s father, the late Jean-Louis Merré in 1994 after traveling back from Sri Lanka. The purpose of Jean-Louis’s visit was to launch an art exhibition and create his jewellery line. In 1998, I launched clavecin.com, a website dedicated to my career as a musician, author, artistic director, and producer.

I played at numerous concerts across Europe at prestigious locations such as: Château de Chambord, Château de Versailles, Paris Sainte-Chapelle, London (Fenton House), Roma (Palazzo Della Cancelleria), Venice ( Fondazione Querini Stampalia), in Monaco at the Theater of Variety.

One of my fondest memories was playing at the Fredensborg Palace on the invitation of H.R.H the Queen of Denmark in 2004. In 1996, I also played a live concert at the French Alliance in Colombo, Sri-Lanka, broadcasted on national TV. In 2012, I created the Harpsichord Foundation based in Geneva’s old town, promoting the historical music keyboards’ craftsmanship values. I also participated in 2014 at the international platform Horyou social network platform in Cannes during the International Film Festival and produced a documentary film (52′) ‘Domenico Scarlatti the Timeless’, which was broadcasted on WDR1 in 2016

From composing music to creating jewellery, Camille’s upbringing inspired her to strive for excellence in pursuing her passion - designing jewellery. Co-creating the brand with my daughter is a lifetime accomplishment for me as I have immersed myself in the world of art since a young age.

It was during a trip to Sri Lanka celebrating Camille’s first birthday with her father that I discovered the extraordinary world of gemstones with their illuminating and sparkling nature. As a trained harpsichordist since childhood, having played musical works by the baroque composer I was inspired by Jean Sebastien Bach (1685-1757), who strongly influenced jazz music - and this remains my true, fundamental inspiration to this day. From composing music notes to creating jewellery, I was able to pass on the taste for traditional artwork and excellent craftsmanship.

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SW: What brought you to the blockchain and #cryptoart space? Just in the past year, the platform has seen a real sea change in how art and design is created/viewed/appreciated. When did you first sense that NFTs were a viable platform for you? Did it take some convincing, or did you already have a working knowledge of blockchain and NFTs?

CLM: I started a Master’s degree in Management & Marketing at Regent’s University in London last autumn and had a strong interest in Fintech and Crypto. I had the opportunity to e-meet Iskander Malikov, the Director of Fiat Europe for Binance (Alumni of Regent’s) last autumn as we wanted to learn more about the crypto space. We had a “click” moment as we were brainstorming the creation of “crypto jewellery” with a QR code including a unique digital art within the jewellery. With Aline, we knew from that moment that NFTs were the right tool for our projects. Consequently, we have registered our company in Zug (Switzerland), which is a “crypto valley” hub. We brainstormed with crypto experts to develop this unique product. In parallel, I have been selected to take part in this year’s Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) – a prestigious student leadership programme initiated by President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. The year-long programme is designed to empower the next generation of student leaders who have innovative ideas for tackling the world’s most pressing social impact and challenge students to become successful commitment-makers. Blockchain has become part of artists’ practice, both as subject and medium, from verification tools for provenance and authenticity – blockchain and crypto have disrupted the luxury goods market. I am also the newly elected Students’ Union President at Regent’s and a member of the Crypto Society and we are preparing some exciting projects. Aline and I wanted to create our decentralized platform, as we had a specific vision in mind, however, Superworld came at the right time. We are 100% advocates of Crypto & Blockchain and what Superworld is doing is incredible – as soon as we were introduced, we knew it was the ideal platform to develop our vision. We are very proud to be part of the journey as Artists-in-Residence.

AD: In light of uncertainty amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the launch of CLJ was delayed due to the cancellation of physical jewellery trade shows internationally. The decision of going all digital and pursuing an e-commerce strategy was the ideal alternative. While there are still unknown factors on the precise timeline of live events’ reappearance, the virtual revolution has impacted the luxury industry. As Camille said, we were instantly convinced once we discovered the world of NFTs, blockchain, and digital collectibles. We shifted our strategy by targeting both the Chinese market as well as the digital AR lifestyle and NFT markets. Investing in the NFT market for CLJ is part of our differentiation strategy as NFTs are becoming a leading emerging asset for the virtual economy both as financial value and as drivers of economic growth in virtual worlds such as with Superworld. The NFT phenomenon has provided luxury brands the opportunity to increase protection against duplication and distribution through certification copyrights to the products through the powerful medium of Blockchain technology. We strongly believe NFTs are a marketing tool for luxury brands that impact digital storytelling by bringing ethical marketing to the forefront through avatars & decentralized platforms. This digital certificate enables the trade of digital assets to be transparent and ethical. Therefore CLJ is launching exclusively digital artworks for the upcoming NFT salon. We are 100% convinced and are already adept at major benefits from NFTs and Blockchain such as: amplifying the voices of artists, peer-to-peer relationships, access to immersive experiences, zero material waste, the possibility to have personalized 3D renderings, and avatars, virtual showrooms, etc… It enables us to create bespoke orders both digitally and physically, expand our creativity with AR/NFT jewellery by partnering with other artists and designers sharing positive values through decentralized distribution.

With an Undergraduate degree in Scientific Studies (1985) and my father being an aerospacial engineer, I have always been fascinated by innovation and technology. The paradigms offered by blockchain technology and now NFTs are opening up immense potential: What was once imagined is now possible. In addition, barriers to interpretation are disappearing and are enabling immediate gains at lightning speed. There is a genuine acceleration of the process. Through these tactics and methodologies, I’m also keen to be able to diffuse my musical work and musical publications. The unique characteristics of an NFT allow for infinite creations, creativity, and possibilities. Indeed, thanks to NFTs, art can be distributed immediately through its initial numeric conception to a material, physical manifestation, thus honoring all of the creator’s inner workings. I love the idea of being able to project, within the space of a unique digital space, and being able to change the decor, the setting of the overall atmosphere depending on circumstances.

SW: How do you reconcile being perceived as one kind of artist (a jewellery and luxury item designer, say) with the desire to just be an artist? There seems to be an almost tautological problem of labeling in the art and design world that, even when intended to be complimentary, still puts artists and creatives back into that box of what the haute monde decides he/she/they are.

CLM: Through my Commitment to Action with the Clinton Foundation and our new launch of Prism Art Labs we aim to improve the world through collaborating with artists and designers who share the same positive values to promote and sell their artworks by increasing diversity through co-creation, elevation, and immersive experiences. Art is a binding medium that helps to unite a community by sharing stories, to inspire reflection, and form connections that transcend differences. We believe that blockchain and NFTs can finally revolutionize the “Labelisation” issue in the “Art world”.

AD: I am labeled as a “musician”, however, Camille and I with the jewellery brand are now “jewellery designers”. Camille always initiates the first draft for the jewellery and I accompany her through the decision-making process. Also, I find it much easier to have the possibility to promote artworks directly through the medium of NFTs and Superworld offers an exceptional platform. We are amazed by all the possibilities of exhibition creations through AR, 3D Animations, Spatial Audio and AI. The possibilities of creations are infinite and that’s what we love about the 360° vision at Superworld.

SW: Tell us a little more please about what you’re working on at the present moment. You’ve recently started Prism Art Labs (PAL)—how does that tie into your larger artistic vision?

CLM & AD: As we wanted to co-create with other artists and designers, and among them, we have followed them for decades and have become good friends. We launched Prism Art Labs as we are driven by creation and co-creation with other artists using PAL as a medium to promote all forms of Arts in the (high-end luxury) world and create unique experiences. Art represents a binding medium that unites a community through its ability to inspire reflection and contribute to elevation. Our mission is to embrace a unique ecosystem for creators to exhibit their artworks and create unique experiences both through virtual and physical realms powered by Blockchain and NFT’s. We are passionate about craftsmanship, authenticity, creativity, innovation, and empowerment as we want to promote cultural heritage and advocate positive values. We engage with new communities. The digital artworks and collectibles can be commissioned as physical pieces from the intangible to tangible, thus co-existing harmoniously through light and colours. For us, PAL was the logical next step.

SW: Let’s talk a little about your creative influences. But by all means, they can (and perhaps should) be artists included from any and all creative mediums.

CLM & AD: We are constantly inspired by the “old” and “new” worlds. We continue to explore new design ideas and chromatic combinations through the use of exceptional gemstones. All these elements are combined in one-of-a-kind jewellery while aiming for a minimalistic design and the quintessence of mesmerizing beauty. We aim to share the light and similar magic present in stained-glass windows. When the lights run through the multi-facets of the gemstones present in the jewellery: they sparkle and shine and, in the darkness, their true beauty is revealed as they are illuminated from within bringing a positive impact to the mind and soul. It’s the concept of light of dawn, with the dim light before daybreak, we hope through our creations we can be a light of dawn in life and for those around us.

Artists who inspire us and among many others:

  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Sandro Boticelli
  • Salvador Dali
  • Carlos Cruz Diez
  • Olafur Eliasson
  • Hemmerle
  • Bjark Ingels
  • Karl Lagarfeld
  • Yves Saint Laurent
  • Claude Monet
  • Vassily Kandinsky
  • Karin Olesen
  • Tomas Saraceno
  • Verhoeven Twins
  • Iris van Arpen
  • Vincent van Gogh

SW: You’ve dedicated your mission to incorporate sustainable, environmentally conscious practices into your acquisitions and design processes. At SuperWorld, our goal is simply to “make a better world” and we’re interested in how creatives like yourself are moving the needle on climate and environmental stewardship. Can you speak a little about how or when you decided to make sustainability a priority in your art and design practice?

CLM & AD: We have lived for 11 years in Denmark (Scandinavia) aka the Green and « happy country ». We always aim to reduce our carbon footprint both in our personal and professional lives. As a family-owned brand, we are constantly aware of the social and environmental impacts which face the jewellery and luxury goods industry. Our jewellery journey started with Sapphirus Lanka who has already implemented responsible business and environmental practices in order to achieve a better future for the next generations to come. Sapphirus Lanka employs more than 120 people and follows a vertical integration, the manufacturer implements responsible business practices in a transparent and accountable manner, throughout the daily running of their business and operations. By supporting local craftswomen and men, they follow a complete ethical process from start to finish with a social impact supporting hundreds of families in Sri Lanka. We want to make sure we follow environmental, social, and business conduct policies in all the steps of our supply chain. From mine to market to the B2C consumer, our journey towards sustainable luxury is evolving day by day, as we try our best to continually improve our responsible practices. For our diamonds, we source them from Alrosa and Sightholder (De Beers Group) according to the highest ethical standards and certified with the Kimberly process as well as 18k sustainable gold. For us, Blockchain is a revolutionary tool for the luxury industry in order to track the supply chain and certification process. Our gemstones and materials are transparent and so are our practices. It’s about building a sustainable future altogether and as a global community. With this background and mindset, it was natural for us to implement these practices in our work environment and to commit to sustainability practices. We want to contribute to make the world a better place and do it step by step in any way we can.

SW: Who looks over your shoulder when you create? Is there any one person or influence who remains at the forefront of your thoughts while creating your pieces?

CLM & AD: We both complement each other in the creation process as we have a great mother-daughter bond and there is always a mystery in the process. We focus on the gemstones and therefore, we value a lot the feedback from our partner Sapphirus Lanka. We are very inspired by Scandinavian and minimalistic designs, and always focus on minimalism, functionality and keeping a “sharp” aesthetic for the piece.

SW: From where we stand, It looks like the capital “A” art world has blinked first in the crypto art/”art” art standoff, which is in many ways a good thing, but do you fear that the old - or the traditional - art world paradigms will fall back into place now that institutional auction houses and galleries have discovered a new revenue stream?

CLM & AD: We believe this movement is not a “bubble” and NFTs and Blockchain is a revolution allowing creators to share their voices while bringing certification and transparency in the supply chain. The founders/old masters from the industry will always try to follow trends through new revenue streams, they might shift back or they might continue…As they say, “Blockchain ” is the “new” - “Internet”. However, the groundbreaking movement of creators being able to exhibit and sell their artworks and creations through peer-2-peer relationships will never shift back.

SW: Do you have a “dream” project? This can include a particular collaborator or location or medium or theme, etc.)

CLM: One of my dream projects is to create citizen awards for social changemakers and catalysts of social impact to improve sustainable and ethical practices in the world. I also dream of designing a CLJ watch as well as filming a mini-series in Sri Lanka to promote craftsmanship.

AD: To play, record, and film across an immersive experience that recalls the visual and musical notes from the old masters and forgotten historical musical masterpieces. I’d like to honor the unknown and the famous alike who I love to visualize hundreds of years ago playing in Rome, London, Hamburg, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, and in other magical places.

CLM & AD: We wish to create a High Jewellery collection inspired by Poetry and imaginary realms where magic and enchantment reign. The AR jewellery enables us to defy the laws of physics in the creations by keeping all the aesthetics of the creations paying tribute to the authors and poets who made us dream as children, from Hans-Christian Andersen, & Jean de La Fontaine using the medium of NFTs in our purchased lands in SW.

SW: What are you most excited to do creatively in SuperWorld?

CLM & AD: We are currently building a virtual space/showroom with the French Architects & Designers CA&CO as they are creating a realm accessible from a “screen of gemstones’, with the branding of CLJ & Prism Art Labs (PAL). We will change it according to the seasons, the events of the year, thus always keeping the gemstone portal as the foundation. Through this unique space, we will exhibit the artworks and products from our collaborations with artists, designers, musicians, and dancers, etc… There will be the possibility to interact with the collectibles and to purchase them either digitally (NFTs) or/and physically. The showroom will be in three dimensions, since gravity does not exist on a screen, we will place the works on the floor, on the ceiling, in transparency, in a duplicate -view, create circuits, etc …

Furthermore, we look forward to showcasing our creations in the lands we have purchased on SW. The viewer will be able to access the space through the virtual plots of land such as Versailles, which would serve as the backdrop for an event or an exhibition. We are also aiming to create bespoke avatars for them to wear the AR jewellery/products and interact within our virtual showroom. We are thrilled to join this “new” community, meeting other creatives, developing new collaborations, and sharing the positive values of making a better world with Superworld as the catalyzer.

SW: Where would you like to have your work displayed in SuperWorld? From natural wonders to department stores and museums all the way to historical monuments and sites, our platform allows artists and NFT creators to place their art anywhere in the world—where are some places you’d like to have your work showcased in Augmented Reality?

CLM & AD: We have been posting AR content via the SW app and are looking forward to posting our works in the land we have purchased (in capitals) as well as in the following locations:

  • Museums: Versailles, The Louvre, Guggenheim & The Met
  • Cities: London, Paris, Copenhagen, Roma, New York City, Los Angeles
  • Create a scavenger hunt for each artwork/product leading up to the final piece in function of our collaborations and partnerships through digital storytelling.

Thank you so much for such interesting and insightful questions to both of you and to the SW team! We can’t wait to start this journey.

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author
Natacha Rousseau

Natacha Rousseau leads the PR efforts for SuperWorld and is passionate about deep technology. Prior to getting a BA in International Relations & Art History, and then her MA in International Political Economy, Natacha studied in Florence, Italy where she earned her Associates degree in Fresco Conservation and Painting Restoration from SACI. French is her native language but she also speaks some Italian and is learning Spanish.