Caroline Van Hoek’s Jewelry of a Different Kind
“My definition of jewelry is very large, anything that is an embellishment of something else,” Belgian gallery owner Caroline Van Hoek recently wrote. “Cutlery is jewelry for the table, door handles are jewelry for your interior, ceramics are jewelry for empty spaces.” She takes a memorably broad, more conceptual interpretation of jewelry design that indicates the functionality beauty can have when in the right hands. The decision “for an object to be termed ‘jewelry’ and not simply ‘functional’ lies entirely in the care and choice that the owner and the maker takes.”
Van Hoek’s interest in supporting artistic growth and cultivating each unique vision is apparent in the works planned for this year’s Design Miami/ fair, which launches next week and runs from December 4th–8th. For their fourth year at the international design forum, “We are bringing a solo show by Gijs Bakker. Gijs has made important jewelry since the 1970s, always renewing himself but what is more important is that his past pieces are not outdated! The works from the series ‘Go for Gold’ are an extraordinary development from laser printed gold,” Van Hoek explains.
Her Brussels-based gallery, which opened in April 2007 and was converted from a former grocery store, retains the same façade from the previous establishment. Its charming signage reads “Fruits,” “Legumes,” and “Self Service,” laden with graffiti, and is an homage to the same community-centered feel a corner store provides. “Close contact with the clientele, the seasonal availability of goods, the limited number of groceries, and the respect of the individuality,” notes a description on the gallery’s website, whose international roster of clients include British firm Study O Portable, Italian Barbara Paganin, South African Daniel Kruger, and wearables by New Zealand’s Lisa Walker.
Caroline Van Hoek grew up seeing her mother wear jewels by the likes of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, but it was her father’s international company that “made me discover the world and at the same time discover another type of jewelry, a jewelry of a different kind,” she recalls. Her own stylistic preferences resist intrinsic values, instead favoring pieces that “were made in an honest way, by someone who took time to develop their own identity,” she says. Her advice to others for approaching jewelry is to “be as open minded when buying jewelry as you are when buying art. Be open for everything and do not have preconceived opinions.”