DUBAI, 25th October, 2023: Encouraged by the success of its traveling school sessions organized in recent years in the Middle East, L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts has decided to firmly establish its presence in the region. In November, a permanent campus opens in Dubai at Dubai Design District (d3), a global creative ecosystem part of TECOM Group PJSC.
Founded in 2012 in Paris with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels, L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts spreads jewelry culture to the widest possible audience. Open to all, from beginners and collectors to the simply curious and young people, L’ÉCOLE offers a rich program of online and in-person courses and talks, as well as free temporary exhibitions, publications and research projects.
The jewelry world is vast, fascinating and universal and this is exactly why L’ÉCOLE spreads its reach internationally. Established in France, today it boasts two permanent campuses in Paris: one in the Hôtel de Ségur, a stone’s throw from Place Vendôme – the historic center of the French jewelry industry; the second is to open its doors in the Hôtel de Mercy-Argenteau, one of the few 18th-century buildings preserved on the Grands Boulevards. A campus was opened in Fall 2019 in Hong Kong, in the Western Kowloon district, facing the bay. 2023 will see the opening of two further campuses: one in Shanghai in the Twin Villas, on Middle Huaihai Road – also known as the “Oriental Champs Elysées”; the other in Dubai.
An exclusive creative neighborhood
Dubai Design District (d3) is a global creative ecosystem in the heart of Dubai where leading creative businesses, talent and entrepreneurs from around the world connect, create and inspire. The district is securing Dubai’s influence in the global creative sector through flagship events including Dubai Design Week and the official Dubai Fashion Week and has helped establish Dubai as a UNESCO Creative City of Design. d3 provides world-class infrastructure, flexible business solutions and enabling platforms to empower the complete creative community and is today home to global companies such as Calatrava and Foster + Partners.
“Dubai’s magnet for iconic creative brands and brilliant talent is growing stronger. The arrival of institutes like L’ÉCOLE takes our efforts a step further, providing creative minds the opportunity to sharpen their skills and craft original, innovative designs. Ensuring such brands continue to find a space and community that fits their needs and ethos is a priority for d3, and it enriches our creative ecosystem with new ideas, ingenuity and talent. ”
Khadija Al Bastaki, Senior Vice President of d3 – TECOM Group
“We really wanted a presence in the Middle East and to one day open a L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts location there. When we were offered this building in this very exciting and vibrant neighborhood, it was the perfect time. ”
Lise Macdonald, President of L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts
A space put together by Constance Guisset, designer, interior architect and scenographer
Inspired by the half-height windows dressing the contemporary building, Constance Guisset had the idea of running a frieze from the outside to the inside. Like an invitation transforming into a guide, this ribbon of fabric accompanies each visitor, while also softening the light and absorbing sounds since it is made of acoustic foam. Comprising two spaces, a large space intended for free temporary exhibitions and the classrooms accessed via a spacious corridor with very high ceilings, the location exudes the typical softness of Constance Guisset’s designs.
“There’s a common thread linking the three new campuses that L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts is opening this year in Paris, in the Hôtel de Mercy- Argenteau, in Shanghai, in the Twin Villas and in in Dubai, at Dubai Design District (d3). But here, even though I’ve worked to create a soothing atmosphere that, I hope, will make you feel good, there are more contrasts, with stronger and denser colors”
Sophie Claudel, Director of L’ÉCOLE Middle East
What history do you have with the Middle East?
It goes back to when I worked for a London architectural firm as an art consultant. One of the projects won by the agency was in Doha, Qatar where I went to design a whole program of art in a public space. So, everything is new, it’s a great adventure! When I first came to Dubai to get a taste of the Emirates, I was immediately hooked. It’s a vertical city and I’m drawn to living up in the sky. Plus, there is a multiculturalism here that generates an absolutely incredible fluidity.
How’s progress going on this final stretch toward the Fall opening?
We’re making great strides! We were only 2 when we started a few months ago, and we’ll be soon 17. When you post an ad in this region, you receive 200 high-level applications, it’s extraordinary. We are building our network very fast, with potential partners in the cultural field as in the higher education sector. The response is unanimously positive, from Zayed University, DIDI, to Al Safa Library or Alserkal Avenue, to name but a few. We really feel warmly welcomed and part of a community of friends and partners who want us to succeed as much as we do.
A Phased Program Introduction
Inaugural exhibition: Garden of Emeralds. Discover the Gemstones
Each year, L’ÉCOLE will host free temporary exhibitions, as part of its aim to spread the world of jewelry to as many people as possible. The inaugural exhibition dedicated to the emerald, “Garden of Emeralds”, will reveal the many secrets and mysteries of this gemstone to the public.
Emeralds, aquamarines, morganites and heliodors, all varieties of the large beryl gemstone family used in jewelry and appreciated by gem lovers. Their great diversity of colors, from the most vivid to the most subtle, offers designers and collectors a unique palette. However, emerald remains the most coveted, the most prized and certainly the most studied. Since ancient times, and as newer deposits have been discovered, emeralds have fueled the imagination and creation of jewelers. They have nurtured the symbolism that comes with the color green, first and foremost that of nature, but also of power, whether religious, military or social. Legend has it that the emperor Nero had emerald glasses specially made to soothe his eyes when he attended gladiator fights.
The “Garden of Emeralds” exhibition, part of the “Discover the gemstones” series, presents the research carried out by L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts on emeralds, with the aim of introducing as many people as possible to the scientific, cultural, artistic and technical aspects of this gem. The tour takes visitors from the depths of the earth, where the unlikely union of elements gives birth to emerald crystal, to the workshops, where it is shaped and worked by expert hands to reveal its color, intensity and beauty. Lapidaries, designers, gem setters and jewelers all work together to create the most beautiful pieces of jewelry, and they all have a special relationship with emerald.
Nature, craftsmanship and symbolism form the three main sections of this exhibition, which brings together rough and cut specimens from the collections of the Mineralogy Museum Mines ParisTech, others from the collections of L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts, numerous pieces of jewelry symbolizing emerald creation, thanks to loans from Van Cleef & Arpels and private collectors, and original gouache drawings that illustrate the full range of nuances of this gem, as well as the passion that people have had for it for over two thousand years.
The “Garden of Emeralds” exhibition, presented in Dubai, inaugurates the 4th permanent campus of L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts, after Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai. With a presence in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts continues its mission of spreading jewelry culture to the widest possible audience, through courses, conferences, publications and exhibitions.
Courses, Talks and Workshops
In addition to this inaugural exhibition, from its opening this fall, L’ÉCOLE Middle East will offer a program of in-person talks covering three main areas: Savoir-Faire (jewelry craftsmanship), the World of Gemstones and the History of Jewelry.
From spring 2024, L’ÉCOLE will also offer courses and workshops for adults and children. Delivered by a body of lecturers including art historians, gemologists, jewelers and craftsmen, each course will bring together a maximum of six to twenty-four students to ensure ideal learning conditions.
Each month, L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts also offers free online talks open to everyone.
For further information on courses, workshops and exhibitions, visit the L’ÉCOLE Middle East website: https://www.lecolevancleefarpels.com/me/en