How do we handle materials, what is their known and usual use, how can their qualities be defined? These questions were at the core of Material and Rules, a five-days workshop tailored for Alchimia’s BFA program by Doris Maninger with the assistance of Carla Movia. The workshop dealt with acts of defining, ordering, categorizing and in essence has the aim to encourage the students to think about how they look at things, and how their own act of looking defines what they see.
During these five days students used play as a form of investigation, understanding the importance of experimentation before final decision making, how that moment of freedom is paramount while keeping an absolute respect for self-imposed rules.

An important part of the this year’s course was the visit to the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology of Florence, one of the most significant in Europe. The Museum owns a very important patrimony, through which it is possible to trace the history of research methodologies adopted by anthropologists in the 19th and 20th centuries, and to gain knowledge over the colonial methods adopted to study any non european culture. The most spectacular section of the collections is the more than 25,000 artefacts deriving from exploratory journeys and scientific missions conducted in many regions of the planet in the late 18th – early 19th century. They consist of all kinds of objects: garments, clothing accessories, jewellery and ornaments, masks, architectural elements, boats, equestrian vestments, idols and amulets, offensive, defensive and hunting weapons, tools for farming, fishing and cooking, decorative items from houses, musical instruments, religious objects of different cults, books, paintings and manuscripts. These objects are all made out of natural materials: wood, bark, leaves and plant fibres both in their natural state and as components of fabrics and woven objects, fruits and seeds, bones, ivory, horns, shells, metals, stones, clay, natural dyes, skin, feathers and hair.

The colonial gaze vis-à-vis early scientific methods gave an important inspiration to the students projects, as did the incredible techniques developed to master natural materials all found in the museum’s collection.

Enjoy the visuals yourself and remember, mind your look.





The second year BFA is: Roberta Consalvo, Elisa Cassaniga, Lisiane Hilario, Kristin Knoll, Chloe Leigh, Victoria Matsuka, Ginevra Montoschi, Uta Myazawa, Luisa Quartin, Cosima Rohden, Piera Shi, Sophia Taul, FuYu Tsai, Ian Lai Wen.






















by Chumeng Weng


View from the vitrine of EContemporary Gallery

In early September, when stores were sluggish from the August heat and new students started to invade the city again, I got a chance to escape to the north of Italy. Trieste, a city bordered by Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea, has impressed me with its multicultural background and a scenic view. To skip the lonely planet kind of introduction, I’ll jump to saying that Trieste is also the hometown of Carla Movia who is a promising graduate student and teaching assistant of Alchimia. She is a jeweler, an artist, a generous host during my trip, and above all a dear friend.

Carla Movia participated in a project titled Artefatto, the result of a yearly open call for participation addressed to young emerging artists from all over the world under 31 years old and based on a different theme each year. The project was initiated by the Youth Aggregation Centres of the Municipality of Trieste as a result of a networking between educational institutions, cultural organizations, local communities and their younger generations. The Municipality of Trieste supported and enhanced this event through an art exhibition and several collateral activities such as ARTEFATTO zoom!

The 11th edition of Artefatto included the work of 40 artists, 8 of which were selected to be part of a show also in ARTEFATTO zoom, in different spaces of the city related to a number of curatorial choices.

The opening took place on September 9th with an ice installation by Fabio Ranzolin placed in the middle of the entrance of ITIS (Azienda pubblica di Servizi alla Persona). A nursing home is not normally associated to art activities. However this environment the artist chose spoke very directly to the topics he wanted to address: the personal experience with his mother suffering from the Alzheimer Disease. Two rows of wine glasses were placed on a block of ice with pure friction. Intensified dripping sound corresponding to the action was being constantly looped in the background. Each second the tension was stretched a bit more since the sound kept reminding the audiences that there would be a moment when the friction will no longer hold the glasses on the ice block as slowing melting away, and all would snap into a million of pieces. It was not a site specific piece but was extremely fitting with the artist’s intention. It was beautiful to perceive the strong collaboration, the support and solidarity existing between very different sectors of the city.


Fabio Ranzolin setting up the wine glasses on ice block in ITIS

After this opening event, four exhibitions inaugurated too, all only for one hour, and in four locations. Artworks used a variety of media, and locations seemed to have always been carefully chosen in relation to the content of the exhibitions. It really felt as an exhibition organized by and for young people, jumping around locations on high heels and never complaining, even though I wonder what it meant for the artists to have a one hour only show.

Carla Movia was one of the 8 finalists, and exhibited some of her brooches (part of her graduate work) at the art gallery EContemporary in a show curated by Elena Cantori. Amongst all paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and installations, jewellery sounded like an odd field to be included. However, and fortunately, to discuss whether or not contemporary jewellery belonged to the visual arts world seemed rather unnecessary at this point. For it is not the medium that determines whether or not something should be considered as art. In fact the most important aspect here seemed to be whether the artworks were capable of communicating the artists’ thoughts and research to the public in a creative way. Artists didn’t need a million dollar idea to start with, but an originality in their proposed answer to the general thematic framework. Carla Movia’s jewellery pieces were perfectly responding to this context. Her collection of brooches is made out of cans composed of containers and lids. They are a vivid illustration of marginalized individuals evaluated due to pre-established prejudices and processes of stereotyping. Stripped off of their original functions as cans, they become brooches, portraits, sculptures and recordings of a statement. Most importantly, they become a symbol of our societal norms. Movia does not only represent an issue, but also encourages a moment of reflection to a public that is essentially implicated in the problem.


Carla Movia and her collection in EContemporary Gallery

I find that the world of contemporary jewellery takes itself too seriously. Why are we often so persistent in our need to define what we do and where we belong to? Is it self reassurance we need, to justify the fact that we produce a type of jewellery that has nothing to do with the traditional jewellery making doctrine? Movia in this case did not trouble herself with defining the boundaries of contemporary jewellery or contemporary art. She did not even have the intention to blur disciplinary borders or to be a “jewellery activist” of sort. To be fair not everyone has an instinctual understanding of her works and it’s not easy to reach the conceptual and formal qualities she achieved. Her work is the result of years of practice, research and discussion. Movia studied at Alchimia for five years and to some extent Alchimia can really be considered more than a jewellery school, as the questions you face during your studies there become existential, philosophical, they put into questions a lot of who you are and what you do, leading to continuously reconsidering yourself.

All the artists participating in the show at Econtemporary gallery had to personally introduce their work before an audience. Movia’s talent in talking about her work proved once again how Alchimia’s students are armed from head to toe to defend their work. Movia was able to talk about her project in just a few sentences like a veteran that talked about her war badges all the time.

I felt lucky to be a fellow classmate of Movia and see how her thoughts and works have developed over the past two years. Of course not all of us have her strength and mentality, and not all of us are interested in creating relations between jewellery techniques, worldwide conflicts and self recognition. But Alchimia over the past years has achieved so much in the contemporary jewellery scene. With her students being awarded all around the world and the school being nominated at different fairs and competitions…prospective students flock into the school like mad worshippers. The quality of teaching is not a guarantee for success, we as students also need to put in a huge amount of effort and energy. It always is a mutual interaction that leads to collaboration as well as conflict.

Best of luck to all the young artists out there, stay young, stay hungry.


Chumeng Weng lived and studied in Shenyang, China for 18 years before studying fine art in Canada. Still looking for a better self, she spent one year in technical jewellery making until attending Alchimia where not only her perception of jewellery has been altered greatly but also her philosophy towards ways of living has been reinterpreted.

Dear jewellery lovers,

this is the time of the year in which we proudly share with you some of the achievements of our incredible roster of students and recent graduates.

Enjoy the list, but do remember that much more is there, even if not necessarily recognized or acknowledged by institutional structures (go go students!).

x alchimia


Brunella Alfinito just finished a very special experience. Through an exchange program she participated in the Spring 2016 MFA semester of the MassArt (Massachusetts College of Art and Design) in the 3D department, presenting for the first time to a public her new “performance jewellery” series.

While there she was teaching Assistant of professor Heather White in her Intermediate jewellery course and she also engaged in an internship at EMBR Labs (MIT) with the “Wristify project” In her words: “I had to design a new wearable technology that recreates the relief you get when you warm your hands by the fireplace in the winter, or when you refresh with an ice cube on your skin in the summer. After some tests on my body and a research about the already existing technology at hand, I designed different types of jewellery and headphones, thinking on a variety of possible shapes and materials”.


LenaGrabher, DIPLOPIA2, 2015, fresnellenssheet,silver,copper,steel

Lena Grabher wins the fifth Eligius Award for Body Jewelry and Jewelry Objects awarded by the federal State of Salzburg (with 7000€!). The jury was impressed by “the young, innovative and consequent manner, with which the artist addresses basic questions concerning the meaning of jewellery in the volatile interaction of the object, body, space and viewer analyses and develops. On one hand she examines the aesthetic possibilities of ordinary materials, on the other hand the creative use of precise technique. In the series DIPLOPIA she develops the concept of a ,double vision´ though the calculated use of optical lenses, mirror constellations and light. The result is a synthesis of the body, jewellery and space, which offers an unexpected visual experience to the viewer.” (…)


Daria Olejniczak, Crimson Rustle, 2014, Brooch, silver, parchment, silk thread, stainless steel

Daria Olejniczak wins the Premio Torre Fornello in the students section and gets to participate to Joya in Barcelona with Rustle.

Rustle is a collection created from parchment (animal skin), which captivates by its unpredictability, resistance and lightness. Necklaces, bracelets and brooches consist of multiple same-shaped and hand-dyed round pieces, which sewn together, become nests of soft and subtle sounds. The vibrant colours of the pieces are striking, yet it is the rustle they create, which can be constantly perceived while wearing them.


Exhibition view at Design Basel Miami

Lavinia Rossetti officially enters the roster of artists represented by Caroline Van Hoek gallery in Bruxelles. With her graduating collection Madelaine she participates in the gallery’s booth at Design Basel Miami. Madeleine is a series of highly poetic and nostalgic works, referring to the famous French dessert that Marcel Proust uses as a metaphor for the notion of involuntary memory in À la recherche du temps perdu. Brooches and necklaces are characterized by the recurrence of the oval shape, direct reference to the traditional technique of inlaid wood and to the pendants containing images of beloved ones in vogue since the XVIII century. Within a strong and wide sense of openness of meanings and subjective takes to the pieces, Madeleine becomes a metaphor of the layered and impermanent substance of our memory and how this is shaped through the proximity to the body, the mind and the heart.


Federica Sala, Controlled Freedom, part of the series True Lies, 2015. Neckpiece, glass, egirina. Photo by Federico Cavicchioli.

Federica Sala has achieved an exceptional success with her MFA collection True Lies, including a solo-show in Munich last year and more recently the prestigious Marzee graduation award. In this series glass and stones come together in an innovative dialogue result of a long research developed on the island of Murano, with a strong relationship to local crafters. These works encourage a reflection on the inextricable co-dependence between opposite forces and forms, and on the limits of our visual and intellectual perception. Seemingly impossible structures that emphasize how much what we intuitively call reality is a fragile, hybrid and complex system, despite the appearances.


Giulia Savino with Paris, part of the series 1:20.000

Giulia Savino has participated in an abundance of trans-disciplinary shows and became an active player in the cultural landscape of Turin. She opened a new and running studio for short and intensive jewellery courses that you can know about by following her constantly updated facebook page. She is continuing to expand her graduation project 1:20,000 presenting necklaces and earrings that respond to very contemporary travellers’ needs: seducing and light objects, bearing a featherweight, taking up very little space and adaptable to different contexts . These works represent personal interpretations of cities from above or known only through maps such as Amsterdam, Florence, Paris , Barcelona, Cairo and her native Vercelli among the others.


Exhibition view at the Centro Cultural Scuola Italiana of Santiago, 2016

Maria Ignacia Walker brings her collection Trascendieron realized during her MFA at Alchimia to Chile in an exhibition titled at the Centro Cultural Scuola Italiana of Santiago. Trascendieron is conceived as a tribute to the silent and trivial losses that we inadvertently witness every day. Hair are caught in forms of gold and porcelain in a collection that encourages a reflection on the Western impulse to collect and preserve, bringing both of these aspects to their extreme. Hairs are counted, measured, analyzed and meticulously preserved as if they were rare and precious materials, in an ironic and poetic act that questions the parameters used to quantify the value of things.







The path of Alchimia’s MFA 2015/2016 is reaching an exciting conclusion.

A moment of critical analyses took place, where students presented their final projects in their entirety (including collection, exhibition plans, books, texts and website proposals) to their core tutors Lucy Sarneel (jewelry practice), Riccardo Lami (cultural theory), Antonia Alampi (curatorial practice) and of course Doris Maninger and Lucia Massei (course directors).

These moments are paramount in Alchimia’s pedagogical approach, training students in presenting and packaging projects before a variety of audiences, in using different performative methods, and in achieving a more independent professional practice. Furthermore the presence of tutors with not necessarily alienated positions allows for a broader discussion to happen, with a more holistic response to their presentations.

Enjoy the images of these moments, and be excited with us about their upcoming solo-shows.

Stay tuned.




Lillian Mattuschka through a performative lecture literally unveiled her collection and her exhibition ideas, that include jewelry pieces, video installations and performances. Her new research revolves around issues of social behavior and constrictions, and the invisible norms that define and direct our interactions with our urban and social environment.


Chumeng Weng in her new collection moved from a more personal and biographical representation of fear to a broader and rather humoristic reflection on what determines our psychological discomforts.  Motion and sarcasm are paramount tools for her, and the question she seems to pose here might be how to neutralize fear’s paralyzing power.


Carla Movia enacted an introductory performance to speak of the stereotypes that we (often also unconsciously) apply to people, based on their appearance, cultural identity or geographical  belonging. Her project is a complex reflection on notions of collectivity, mobility, anonymity and standardization.



Lumy Noguez worked on an exceptionally accurate presentation that addressed the multiple aspects that define her collection, and what her pieces want to achieve. She moved from her research process to the social, chemical, and esthetic aspects of moulds and to how her jewelry pieces recreate the fungus’ microcosms while coherently manifesting on unexpected parts of a wearer’s body.



Marissa Ryan Racht‘s presentation was composed of jewelry pieces, photographs and drawings blowing in the wind. An uncanny feeling was produced in her environment, one meant to speak of the binary oppositions that exist between a romantic and rather ordinary sense of beauty and the uncomfortable underlying traction of a certain sense of seduction. Madness and its possible domestication seemed at the core of her formal attempts.



Francesco Coda has a light and fantastical imagination. His presentation highlighted how at the core of his collection is a triangular relation: one that exists thanks to a fantasy applied to existing objects and memories of other people. A legal contract finally crowns a relation between the jewelry world of the past and that of the future.

an interview by Daria Borovkova


STUDIO|Nedda, Eternum Coffee & Tea set, 2013, (c) Johan Blommaert

In 2015 Alchimia launched its new MFA program, finalized with solo-shows of its participants happening in Barcelona, Prague, Torino, Antwerp and Florence. Three out of six students, Daria Borovkova, Lavinia Rossetti and Giulia Savino were tutored by Nedda El-Asmar, an acclaimed Belgian designer and professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.

In order to introduce Nedda without being dogmatic about jewellery talk, this interview is more of a conversation between a tutor and one of her students, where both reflect, together, on jewellery and beyond.

Daria: I want to start from the very beginning of your professional career. You have studied jewellery design and silver-smithing at the Royal Academy of Arts in Anwerp and completed your education at the Royal College of Art in London. As a student did you notice any major differences between the pedagogical approaches of these two institutions?

Nedda: Well, these are two institutions that you cannot compare, particularly at that time, because the Royal College of Art has only a Master degree. And at the time of my studies at the Academy the system of Bachelor and Master didn’t even exist, it was introduced almost 10 years ago, so it was different. However, what I have learned at the Academy is to manage and to be creative with what I had, so that was stimulating. On the other hand, at The Royal College I got a lot of input through, for instance, many and different lectures, and it gave me lots of possibilities for networking afterwards. Many new technologies were available there. So I find it impossible to compare, they were two completely different types of educations in fact.

Daria: Which one do you think influenced you the most as a professional?

Nedda: The Royal College came four years after the Academy, so at that point I understood better what I was doing and going to do. We approached production and making multiples, which made me realize that I didn’t have to make all my pieces one by one by hand, or think of them as unique. There were great facilities for producing work, and that was very influential as I started to design for companies. But managing everything myself and doing handwork has been very important as well for the way I approach my projects.

Daria: As a young designer you were picked up very quickly by different companies, Hermès, Puiforcat, Villeroy & Boch, just to name a few. Was it difficult to find a balance between their guidelines and policies and establishing your personal style? Did their identity influence your practice? And how much space is there for individual creative freedom?


Nedda El-Asmar, Selle Bartabas for Hermès, 2001, ©Rousseau


Nedda El-Asmar, Criollo for Carl Mertens, 2006, (c) Wolf&Wolf


Nedda El-Asmar, Demianka for Hermès, 2006, (c) Patrick Burban

Nedda: I didn’t have any strict guidelines and ever since I started designing for those companies, I try to find the balance between their style and my own. It is important and challenging to keep this in mind, so that the company is happy with the outcome and that I can recognise myself in it. Up until now, to be honest, we still have a lot of freedom (since 2008 Nedda is working together with Eric Indekeu, ed). We are given projects because the companies know what kind of work we do, we have an identity. We hardly have guidelines, we are just asked to design cutlery, for example, as simple as that.

Daria: You won the ‘Belgian Designer of the Year 2007’ award amongst many more. What is essential in a well designed object for you?

Nedda: Well, it all depends on what it has to be. Something functional should be functional of course. If it’s a spoon for daily use, so not a conceptual spoon, then you have to be able to eat your soup comfortably with it. Also the proportions, weight and other aspects are important. And then the aesthetics. And for me the aesthetic part is something that makes you want to cherish your object. You should be enjoying to use it daily, to have it around you and to keep it for quite a while. It shouldn’t be just another spoon that next year you would like to replace. So in one way or another, the aesthetics should be ‘timeless’.

Daria: Do you apply then the same criteria to a jewellery piece?

Nedda: Yes. For example in the only commercial line we’ve done so far (DIAMANTI PER TUTTI, 2014) the setting is designed so as to make the diamond visible only to the owner. Thus, it can intimately speak to the memory of the person the owner received it from or maybe the moment he got it for himself. They are very simple aesthetic pieces with a story behind them. Not all my products have a story to tell, but a lot of them do.


STUDIO|Nedda, Diamanti Per Tutti, 2014

Daria: You teach at the Jewellery Department of the Royal Academy in Antwerp since nine years. And you don’t design jewellery, or barely. Is your approach to jewellery making, as a teacher, similar to the process of cutlery design, for example? In some way they share something, they are both body related.

Nedda: I see both, jewellery and cutlery, as some sort of decoration, be it for the body or the table. Both are also body related, but a spoon is still more functional, because it has to fit well in the hand and when you put it in your mouth, it has to be comfortable. When it comes to teaching, I don’t think it makes any difference to me, because I’ve always been surrounded and educated by jewellery designers. If I were educated as a product designer then I think my approach would have been different.

Daria: I find it very interesting that you can bring your knowledge of designing objects into jewellery thinking and tutoring.

Nedda: What I find interesting is doing multiples and working with others, here I mean designing and making everything together as a team in class. And I think it’s something you have to offer to your students so at least they understand, vividly, that there are other ways, other than making unique pieces. It’s an exercise that I consider quite important.

Daria: Since you teach in a Jewellery Department, do you have your own definition of what jewellery is nowadays?

Nedda: There are so many different ways of approaching jewelry today. You have artists, like Ai Weiwei or Erwin Wurm, who are commissioned to design jewellery. Then there are, of course, the jewellery designers and makers: some of them are very conceptual, others are making more body related pieces. What jewellery is and if it belongs to fine arts or crafts is a discussion that I don’t find necessary anymore.

Daria: But do you see any limitations? Honestly, anything can be a jewellery piece?

Nedda: For example, almost anything can be a brooch. In theory, you just need to put a pin on the back. And that’s where the limitations can start. You can feel if the pin is really part of the piece or not. And if it’s not, then why should it be a brooch? At that point, let it be what it’s good for.

Daria: And what if the jewellery piece is absolutely not wearable and not even meant for the body?

Nedda: If it’s too heavy or too difficult to wear, it’s fine, it has its place as well. I wouldn’t see any problem even if it was made just for a photo-shoot or if it was meant to exist as an ephemeral statement on the body.

Daria: You tutor only MFA students. Can you talk about this role?

Nedda: For me it’s about finding out with the students what they really want to do, what they want to express, to coach them along this path and to support them. Whether it’s something conceptual or very commercial, I motivate students to go deeper and do something that is different from what is already out there, because there are always possibilities to develop projects in a much more thorough way. What I find important is that by the time they graduate, even if they achieved only half of what they hoped for, they know what they want to do and how to continue.

Daria: You teach, give workshops and develop design projects in many different countries, in Europe and the Middle East. Do you think that design and jewellery, as disciplines, reflect the process of globalisation and that they are increasingly losing their cultural specificities?

Nedda: Now everything is globalized. And this is happening to jewellery design as well. The community of contemporary makers is very small. Many of them come to Europe to study and they start to reflect on their cultural identity, there is a lot of mutual influence.

Daria: Your roots are from a totally different cultural context than Belgium – from Palestine. Did you ever directly address your cultural heritage in any of your projects?

Nedda: I do it when necessary and when it makes sense. Like in the case of a water pipe that was commissioned to me by a French company called Airdiem. The same goes for Zeri Crafts, whom we’ve designed incense burners for. In both projects there is a cultural aspect that I know very well, also because these products are sold in the Gulf States, and so that link and that feeling to it is coherent with the object and its aims.


Nedda El-Asmar,  Narghile for Airdiem, 2006, (C) L. Pironneau

Daria: How did it feel to be working on these cross-cultural projects?

Nedda: It’s part of me, so it’s natural. I think if somebody asked me to do something for a Japanese market, I would have to do much more research, it would be different.

Daria: What inspires you?

Nedda: It all depends. It can be a word or just the object itself, it can be the shape, it can be nature. For me it can be anything!

Daria: Are you inspired by food and cooking since you design cutlery and many other objects which are somehow related to this?

Nedda: Well, maybe indirectly. The projects I’m doing are often food related. I think it’s just the way I work – I like noticing, trying out and mixing things. For example, when I designed Appetize (a set of forks and spoons for appetizers) it was because at receptions I always wondered why there was just one type of spoon with a bent handle for serving appetizers. And that is how I came to the idea of making something different.


Nedda El-Asmar, HTS for Hermès, 2005, (c) Patrick Burban


Nedda El-Asmar, Virgule for Puiforcat, 2005


Nedda El-Asmar, Appetize for Gense, 2006

Daria: Then what about one of your iconic pieces – a condom holder. How did you come up with the idea? What is the story behind it?


Nedda El-Asmar, Condomholder, 1992, (c) Wolf&Wolf

Nedda: I’ve designed that in 1991-1992. It was the project for a multiple that we had to do at the Royal College of Art. We had to look for a product that was a gap in the market. And at that moment AIDS had just been revealed. Using condoms had to become a part of your daily hygiene, like brushing your teeth, so everybody had to carry them. And I thought that you had elegant powder boxes, cigarette cases, etc., so I decided to make something precious for condoms, because love is a beautiful thing, why should you have to hide it?

Daria: You have recognizable aesthetics – simple, elegant and very sophisticated. Some define it as feminine. How do you feel about it?

Nedda: Well, maybe it’s just because people like to put labels, I also have pieces that are not that feminine. Sometimes I wonder, if there was no name next to my objects would you still refer to them as oriental and feminine?

Daria: And when it comes to jewellery, do you think that contemporary jewellery is gender specific?

Nedda: It’s the same situation as with globalization. There is an androgynous nature that is very prominent today, whereas before it was more gender-specific. I think this all has to do with the development of modern society and a certain degree of cosmopolitanism.

Daria: I have also noticed that many young jewellers today don’t limit themselves to jewellery making, but they also create objects and use other mediums of artistic expression. Why do you think this happens? Is it historically rooted or is it a recent phenomenon?

Nedda: I think it has to do with the fact that everyone wants to try a bit of everything. And in terms of education as well, some schools became some sort of a mixture of all departments. Back in the days it was different, you finished the Academy and you knew what you would be doing for the years to come. Nowadays everything has changed. And it’s not making things easier, on the contrary, it’s making life more difficult. A lot of people are very confused and I think that might be one of the reasons why people try a bit of everything, because some are not confident enough.

Daria: The contemporary jewellery world is very small and especially there are very few public and private institutions devoted to it, while the number of students and practitioners is growing. What strategies do you suggest your students to adopt in order to be noticed and find their own place?

Nedda: Well, it all depends on what your work is like. Each time there’s a different strategy. I think what is important is to understand that your direction could change or shift afterwards, but to stay focused and not try to do too much at the same time.

Daria: And finally, can you share the best advice you were given during your studies which you still find relevant today in your work?

Nedda: Well, my tutor at the Academy Jean Lemmens once said that the most important thing is to look around. Look and look and look. And continue looking. I think that’s what is important, to look around. Look at what is happening, be eager to learn. I love seeing what others are doing, how they are doing it, be it in Fine Arts or other fields. It’s about knowing what is going on and not setting boundaries. It’s about absorbing, about keeping your eyes open and being open to everything that passes by and try to do something with it.

Daria Borovkova is a russian Florence-based jewelry designer. She has an international background and working experience as a visual merchandiser and interior designer and in 2015 graduated from the MFA program of Alchimia. Her jewellery has been exhibited in Europe and in the United States.















We are happy to announce some exciting new additions to our dream team of staff members.

Jorge Manilla will be the new main tutor of Alchimia’s first year MFA program, while Benjamin Lignel will be the new tutor in curating and creative writing for Alchimia’s second year MFA program.

Read below about their stunning professional experience. For more information Alchimia is at your disposal (easy:




Jorge Manilla is originally from Mexico but lives and works in Belgium.
Grown up in a family of goldsmiths and engravers, he studied visual arts at the Academy of San Carlos, in Mexico and received a higher technical jewellery training at the Academy of Craft and Design from the Mexican Institute of Fine Arts.
In 2003 he earned a Bachelor degree in sculpture at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent and one year later he enrolled at St Lucas University College of Art and Design where he received a Master degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing in 2006.
Alongside his professional activities as an artist, he is right now working as researcher and doing his PhD under the title Other Bodies Design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He also teaches at different Art and Design universities around the world .
His work investigates his environment – religion, emotions, relationships and the meaning of life.
His dark forms and shapes create a barrier between the meanings of the objects and the outside world. Black implies self-control and discipline, independence and a strong will. It gives an impression of authority and power. To the artist black relates to something hidden, the secretive and the unknown, and as a result it creates an air of mystery. It keeps things bottled up inside, hidden from the world. For Manilla black is the end, but the end always implies a new beginning.

Ben © Ben Lignel

Benjamin Lignel is an artist, writer and curator. He is a co-founder of la garantie, association pour le bijou, a French association with a mission to study and promote jewellery. In this capacity, he co-curated “Also known as jewellery”, a exhibition of French contemporary jewellery that traveled seven cities, and helped program and organise the 44th Zimmerhof symposium (2012) in Germany as well as “Bijou(x). Les Pratiques contemporaine à l’épreuve de leur discours” (2014) a two-day symposium hosted by the Paris College of Art, in Paris. in 2014, he organised Différence et Répétition, a research-by-exhibition project that was shown in Norway and France. He became a member of Think Tank. A European Initiative for the Applied Arts, in 2009, and was appointed editor of Art Jewelry Forum in january 2013. He has just edited a third book under AJF’s imprint, dedicated to jewellery in the wider cultural realm, titled On and Off, and is currently working on a book on jewelry an gender with Namita Wiggers. Ben conducts workshops extensively on writing, curating and jewelry, and is a guest teacher at the Nürnberg Academy of Fine Arts since 2013.



Curated by Stefano Micelli

Fabbrica del Vapore, Via Procaccini 4, Milano

02.04 – 12.09

XXI Triennale International Exhibition

2016-07-12 16.17.22

Entrance to the exhibition at Fabbrica del Vapore. Photo by Federica Sala

 The Milano Triennale International Exhibition is back after 20 years with a challenging program of exhibitions, special events and lectures that are happening all around the city since early Spring inside museums, universities and important cultural spaces. The aim of this project is to try to analyze from different perspectives the world of design in its contemporaneity.

New Craft is an exhibition that belongs to this intense and very ambitious program and takes place at the Fabbrica del Vapore, a former industrial building today devoted to contemporary culture, nearby the Monumentale graveyard of Milan. The aim of this endeavor is to share with the audience a reflection about one of the biggest and at the same time most exciting challenges design is facing nowadays: innovation through craftsmanship. In fact, if on the one hand we are facing the never ending opportunities offered by new technologies, on the other being a relevant designer today seems to mean also to go back to craftsmanship. Here, what becomes clear is that the unique essence of craft has finally been reconsidered (hurrah!) as something more meaningful and more valuable  than what can be achieved via mass production. Being able to produce new products using old techniques seems to be the objective many designers are trying to achieve. Thus the big challenge for a new generation of designers is creating a new type of technology to produce new forms of craft. The purpose of using old machines and studying traditional techniques is to give birth to new industrial/craft projects in which the speed and precision of the machines is combined with the uniqueness and customization of handmade piecesMany design theorists are raising attention on these new aspects of the discipline, trying to understand the how and the why of what is better known as a “self-production phenomena”, “fab-lab” and “makers”. At the same time, it’s important not to forget the industries that have invested into the design & engineering field, trying to merge mass production, with the high quality of the final outcomes and technical research towards innovation.

Schermata 2016-08-25 alle 16.53.56

New Craft – central hall exhibition at Fabbrica del Vapore. Photo © Inexhibit

Schermata 2016-08-25 alle 16.54.20

A large x-shaped concrete table located in the middle of the great hall. Photo © Inexhibit

2016-07-12 16.15.15

Photo by Federica Sala

 New Craft tries to didactically organize and narrate all the manifold aspects that are part and parcel of this research field today, showing products as diverse as bicycles and clothes, pots, cars, site-specific installations, processes of production (3D printing, 3D cutting, new typography machines) and (Yes!) jewelry piecesThe audience is able to interact with different tools, creating objects that become part of the exhibition too. 

Schermata 2016-08-25 alle 16.54.31

Artifacts made during the exhibitionPhoto © Inexhibit

 If the general aim of this event is pretty clear and well organized through a very defined path, sometimes the choice of the objects is too much. What I mean here is that the selection of pieces seems to be presenting too often objects belonging to the same collections, designers or brands rather than trying to really show the different possible outcomes the use of new craft techniques can lead to by involving a wider range of practitioners. Furthermore the amount of objects is overwhelming, so for me the famous “less is more” would have worked better on the overall, giving to the different pieces more space to breath but also more importance. 

 The jewellery section featured the work of Stefano Marchetti, Monica Castiglioni, Paola Volpi and Stefania Lucchetta.  While the first represents the highest form of goldsmithing skills rethought into more contemporary forms, the others base their work on the use of new technologies such as synterization and 3D printing together with a deep experimentation with new materials. I perfectly know and understand that each of the products presented in the exhibition is no more than a hint to a bigger world, but also in this case, the selection and the variety of the jewellery pieces could have been better shown and presented: Marchetti’s pieces are detached from the others and in the case of Lucchetta and Volpi the display seems to refer to a shop window rather than to an exhibition space. This means the the particularities and values of each piece are not highlighted, making it very hard for an audience to really appreciate the nuances of each piece.

2016-07-12 16.11.04

Exhibition view of the jewellery section. Photo by Federica Sala

2016-07-12 16.14.29

Exhibition view of the jewelry section. Photo by Federica Sala

2016-07-12 16.10.43

Stefano Marchetti’s pieces. Photo by Federica Sala

For instance Lucchetta’s work is the result of complicated 3D sketches and repeated patterns that could be nice to show close to one of the pieces. This is because the material choices she makes are relevant, and a consequence of the production process in relation to the visual final effects she wants to achieve. I know this as a professional in the field, but who else?

Anyhow, looking at the jewellery presentations from a distance, the contraposition of these images gives a strong feeling, especially looking at Marchetti’s work whose presence in this exhibition is remarkable and important for all of us: contemporary jewellery exists here and could also be like this!

Federica Sala is a jewelry artist based in Milan. In 2015 she graduated from Alchimia’s MFA program and recently won the Marzee Price 2016.