By Maria Doulton
The opulent, finely wrought details are what you notice first with a piece of Giampiero Bodino jewellery. Look again, however, and more is revealed: a sensual asymmetry and modern sensuality that unfurls with a flowing ease.
Bodino makes bold statements with his avant-garde use of colour, and hints at his inspirations: sunny coves in the Mediterranean and medieval stained glass windows. It is this aesthetic dexterity - the product of a highly sophisticated mind - that makes Bodino’s work so startlingly original.
As Group Art Director of the Richemont Group and formerly a designer of cars and buildings, Bodino has just about seen and done it all in terms of luxury design. So when it comes to creating high jewellery pieces that bear his name, he makes it very personal, so much so that it is hard to unravel the man from his works.
“It is a characteristic element of my personality to combine the new with the old,” Bodino emphatically states of his style. “It’s in the way I dress, decorate my home and choose my music. It comes very naturally. I love antiques, the ancient world and history, but I am interested in trying to capture the beauty of a past moment and make it relevant.”
It is clear that the past speaks strongly to Bodino, but the magic of his unique jewellery is in how he shapes it into a new form. “I always believe in mixing elements as I think it is a little obvious to completely follow a style or trend. It is not my approach to take things too literally, so even if the inspiration may be serious, my work always has a touch of irony.”
“I play with how you wear your jewels and it shouldn’t necessarily be related to the original idea,” he continues. “For example, the symbols in my Rosa dei Venti bracelet could be too regal or powerful if they weren’t presented in a new light, so I transform them and give women the chance to play with these feelings. I like the idea of repurposing symbols of the past for women of today.”
We subconsciously register the elegant classical and renaissance references in the Rosa dei Venti bracelet, the entwined serpents cuff, or the cameo carving on another ring. We also recognise the thick golden chains that speak of Italy’s past maritime dominance or the papal rich hues of coloured gemstones such as amethysts and rubies.
“Symbols from the past still hold a huge power over us, whether we like it or not,” explains Bodino. “So what I do is take old symbols of, say, power or status and turn them into a new message. Times have changed, but what remains is the extreme force that they have on our minds.”
A stroll around the Villa Mozart, a glimpse at his design studio, or a peek at the soundtrack on his iPod confirms that Bodino’s finely tuned filter captures the essence of the past, and distills it into future-facing jewels. After all, this is the man who collects cartoon figurines while creating precious high jewellery pieces under a cherub-strewn fresco in a modernist villa in Milan. But this is no pastiche or trendy mash-up; it is a peaceful settling of well-mellowed ideas.
But while it may be tempting to intellectualise, instead allow Giampiero Bodino to state the simple truth that guides each of his designs: “The jewel is the object par excellence as it has no physical function. Its sole raison d’être is beauty.”