A head of the upcoming Fine Jewels sale, renowned creative duo Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda have brought to life the magnificent maximalist aesthetic of JJ Martin, founder of luxury Milanese brand LaDoubleJ, in Sotheby's London galleries which are available to view by appointment. Kinmonth and Monfreda have been behind some of the most ambitious fashion exhibitions of recent times including the Met’s “Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century” to “Valentino: Master of Couture’ at Somerset House.
A Private Look at Sotheby’s Fine Jewels Exhibition
As Martins's prints form the dramatic backdrop to pieces from Fine Jewels, Modern and Contemporary African Art and Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art, we speak to Patrick Kinmonth about his inspiration for this project and love of combining the antique and the modern.
For this exhibition working with Sotheby’s and La Double J, what were you aiming for?
"Antonio Monfreda and I have had the pleasure of knowing JJ Martin’s work as a designer from the earliest days. Her style is an inimitable clash of print and colour, and the fact that Sotheby’s asked her to stamp her very bold taste on the galleries during the upcoming Fine Jewels sales showed a great deal of vision on your side. We were intrigued when she asked us to collaborate and thought about playing with scale, joie de vivre and vibrant pattern, which are the touchstones of her work.
We decided to plunge visitors into her world and really go for it in terms of layering pattern and texture, starting from the very moment you enter with her dazzling prints upscaled and collaged in custom carpets created specifically for the space. We have encouraged JJ’s world to pop up in everything from the flower arrangements to the miniature mannequins made in her image, that crop up throughout the galleries, wearing her most recent collection of clothes."
Was there a particular inspiration?
"For the fashion dolls, we were inspired by the famous couture installation that took Paris by storm just after the war. In 1947, Le Theatre de la Mode, involving many extraordinary artists including Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau, presented couture collections on 70cm tall dolls in theatrical settings, dressed by each designer who was invited to contribute. I have always been fascinated by the event, of which there are a great number of photographic records.
We were inspired to make 3D printed models from our drawings of JJ Martin using the very latest technology to achieve them, combining the inspiration of the past with the most modern digital fabrication techniques. JJ Martin is inspired by many different styles of vintage textiles – rescaled , recoloured, reimagined and brought into the present – so this way of thinking seemed especially appropriate both to Sotheby’s as an artistic institution and the processes of her work."
What would you say are your most treasured possessions?
"My imagination and my memories of the amazing people who I have met in my life, with whom I have worked and played , made art and laughed are way out ahead. In terms of material things, my collection of textiles, especially tapestries, which stir me in a way I find impossible to explain and from which intense pleasure springs eternal, my collections of 17th century furniture and portraits, which are my magic casement to a romantic world where things were infinitely more difficult to achieve but whose beauty never ceases to inspire me."
Where do you find your inspiration?
"I have no idea where our design solutions come from specifically but we know we can rely on an immediate and potent reaction to a given design challenge, and play it back and forth between us until it feels right. I suppose it is like being a kind of visual athlete; we take an idea and run with it, until the end is in sight. We have seen a great deal of amazing places and things in our lives, and we pool our collective consciousness in the studio and the ideas coalesce into realities."
How do you choose art for your own home? You must have so many pieces jostling for attention.
"I have always loved both the past and the present. I like the tension between antique and modern. I feel houses tell you what they want to be like, and its is up to you to make them feel comfortable visually, to try and create that indefinable sense of the right colour, texture, function and mood rather than any opting for a specific style. I choose things for the rooms and the way light falls in the rooms rather than imposing my own taste. I feel that I am offering up proposals to the rooms I live in. Sometimes they will seem to accept my suggestions, sometimes things have to be changed, year by year, season by season or the rooms just spit them out."
How does the world of art inform your designs?
"I made a conscious choice very early on to break with convention and be as varied in my artistic practice as possible. I chose to go to Oxford and study literature rather than to go to an art school. I wanted to be outside any pigeonhole or category. I was aware as a child that I was an artist and I have tried to be true to my gifts and the opportunities life has offered me, in the theatre, the art gallery, in architecture, design, exhibitions, operas, houses and gardens and anywhere else that my visual and creative gifts have found a canvas and means of expression.
I have worked extensively In photography, painting, film, performance, decoration, curation and as a writer. I have collaborated a lot and worked alone too. For many it is a baffling array of projects and disciplines, but I continue quite simply to try and do my best whenever I am given the honour and precious trust of a commission or a space for my work to take place in. It is always a marriage of heart, mind , spirit and above all the eye."
To arrange a gallery viewing or for any further information on this sale, please contact Kristian Spofforth on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 20 7293 5589.
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