Architect by training, Canadian by birth, Nathalie Jean has lived and worked in Milan for thirty years.

Since 1998, her jewellery collections have been presented and sold at 10 Corso Como in Milan and Seoul, Nilufar gallery in Milan, Donna Karan’s flagship store in New York, Adelaide in Tokyo, Ronce Noire gallery in Paris. It has been part of numerous exhibitions around the world.

She opened her first boutique via Solferino 48, Milan, in 2014. An elegant and refined treasure chest, curated in its smallest details by herself, from the custom display systems that are adapted to the themes of her precious collections to the beautiful 20th-century lamps and design pieces collected over the years.

She also designs jewellery collections for luxury and fashion brands such as Versace, Montblanc and other Jewellery Maisons of the Richemont Group, Christofle, Damiani Group and Swarovski.

Her design pieces and her jewellery are included in the permanent collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Chicago Athenaeum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal. Her jewelry, product design and interior architecture projects have been featured in numerous architecture, design and fashion books, magazines and newspapers.

Before opening her own architecture and design studio in 1993, Nathalie worked at Sottsass Associates in Milan and at Peter Rose Architect in Montreal. Her interior architecture clients include 10 Corso Como, Azzedine Alaia, Alberta Ferretti and Pomellato and her design pieces have been produced by the likes of Design Gallery Milano, Driade and Rosenthal.

Conversation with Nathalie Jean

Trained in urban architecture, I initially worked on very large-scale architecture projects in Montreal. Later, at Sottsass Associates in Milan, I learnt interior architecture, which I continued to practice when I opened my own studio in 1994. Following La Ville Nouvelle, a solo show of design pieces at Design Gallery Milano in 2002, I felt the need to work with my hands.

I created Necklaces Limited Edition, a collection of three dimensional paper chains covered in gold leaf. This first jewellery show at 10 Corso Como in Milan was a success. Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia, the Italian TV, everybody wanted those pieces. I then began to work with precious metals and I now dedicate myself almost entirely to jewellery. After many years of working as a designer, on every possible scale, from huge totiny, I have fi nally found what I was meant to do. It is as if everything I have done in my life thus far has led me to jewelry: miniature wearable architecture.

I love every step of the jewelry making process from the idea that slowly emerges in your brain to the finished piece. I very rarely look at jewellery books. Inspiration comes from nature, both macroscopic and microscopic; from my travels or the novels I read; and from the most unexpected scenes or objects. I sketch a lot, eventually moving to the computer to draw the project; I only work only in 2D. We start making prototypes early on, modifying the designs until they are “perfect”. I particularly like the shop work: wax sculpting and metal work, melting and pouring it, feeling its heat when it passes through the rolling mills, or the way two pieces of metal magically become one when I solder or weld them. The pieces, all made in our shop, are either “pièce unique”, limited edition, or very small productions.

Solo shows and presentation

2009 Suite Birmane – Nilufar Gallery, Milan
2006 Microcosmos – 10 Corso Como, Milan
2005 Mercure – 10 Corso Como, Milan
2005 Contemporary Jewelry – Galerie Arnaud, St-Moritz
2003 Saphir and Informe – Galerie Ronce Noire, Paris
2003 Saphir and Informe – 10 Corso Como, Milan
2002 Saphir – Donna Karan, New York
2002 La Ville Nouvelle – Design Gallery Milano, Milan
1998 Necklaces Limited Edition – 10 Corso Como, Milan

Group shows

2010 Bodyguard, une collection privée de bijoux d’artistes – Passage de Retz, Paris
2010 Gioielli per Milano – La Triennale di Milano, Milan
2009 Paper Jewelry – La Triennale di Milano, Milan / Triennale Design Museum,
Incheon, Korea
2008 Gioiello italiano contemporaneo – Palazzo Valmarana Braga, Vicenza / Castello Sforzesco, Milano / Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin / Museo di Arti Decorative Pietro Accorsi, Torino
2006 Il Cosmo Driade: Immagine del Design Italiano – Die Neue Sammlung, Munich
2005 Design jewels – Valadier, Roma
2004 Il Design della Gioia: Jewelry between design and ornament – La Triennale di Milano, Milan
1994 City Metaphors Urban Constructs – Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Paris / Knoll Gallery,
New York
1990 Chairs – Milan
1990 Assemblages – Montreal