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The Resonance of Craftsmanship
Half a century has passed since Van Cleef & Arpels, founded in France in 1906, opened its first boutique in Japan (1973). The Maison has always enjoyed a special connection with traditional Japanese art and culture. Today, this dialogue between the French decorative arts and ancient Japanese artistic craftsmanship continues.
Van Cleef & Arpels has collaborated with renowned creator Kunihiko Moriguchi, Master of the yuzen technique and holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure). The result of this encounter, two original precious boxes, abounds with art, traditional culture and ideas for the future.
Master Moriguchi and Van Cleef & Arpels first met at the "Mastery of an Art: Van Cleef & Arpels - High Jewelry and Japanese Crafts" exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto in 2017. Master Moriguchi presented a series of kimonos at this venue, sparking a conversation with Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of the Maison, on such topics as craftsmanship and the transmission and preservation of savoir-faire. Their exchanges led them to embark on this journey to further explore these topics.
These precious boxes are the fruit of a collaboration that finds deep resonance in the Maison's historical pieces.
Since its founding in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels has regularly demonstrated its creativity in conceiving precious objects. In 1933, with the craze for beautiful accessories at its peak, the Maison invented the Minaudière. Fitted with ingeniously structured compartments, this large case was intended to store women’s essential items (mirror, lipstick, powder compact, etc.).
These precious boxes interpret Van Cleef & Arpels’ Minaudière from a different perspective, enriching it with the artist’s own unique touch for the modern age.
The first sketch, originally drawn in 1980 by Master Moriguchi for a kimono design, was finally transposed to a box, and attests to the convergence of Eastern and Western cultures
Master Moriguchi’s design evokes the rich beauty of nature. Talented artisans, carefully selected by Van Cleef & Arpels, then transferred his vision into reality, in the form of two boxes combining precious stones and noble wood. While the selection of these rare materials drew on Van Cleef & Arpels’ knowledge and experience, the movement imparted to geometric patterns thanks to unique methodology and technique echoes the Maison's creativity and innovative spirit.
“Culture heralds the age”. These words, expressed by Master Moriguchi, reveal the significance of the precious boxes, in the sense that culture forges the spirit of the times. “Tradition” is not a constant, but a concept that continues to evolve with an eye that goes beyond “Modern.” Naturally, this evolution builds on the skills and sensibilities developed throughout history. Master Moriguchi embodies the fusion of Japanese and French cultures, a duality that mirrors one of the Maison's missions: to serve as a bridge between jewelry and art. This collaboration, which continues to take on new challenges and adventures, will transcend cultural differences and pave the way for future craftsmanship and artistic creation.
Kunihiko Moriguchi, the younger son of yuzen artist, Master Kako Moriguchi, was born in Kyoto in 1941. After training at the Japanese Painting (nihonga) Department of Kyoto City University of Arts, he spent some three years studying at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Over this period, Kunihiko received academic education in the arts and gained an understanding of graphic design and techniques used in Op Art. Following his artistic education in both Japan and France, he consciously embraced “tradition” and “yuzen.” Since then, in addition to presenting numerous yuzen works at venues including the “Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibitions,” he has been actively engaged in creative activities to apply tradition in a modern sense, such as designing shopping bags for Mitsukoshi Department Store and porcelain with the Manufacture de Sèvres or the French National Institute.
In 1988, Kunihiko was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2007, he received the title of Holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property, “yuzen” category. In 2020 he was named a Person of Cultural Merit in Japan, and was elevated to the rank of Commandeur de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur in France in 2021.