As we prep for our annual buying trip to Paris for the Maison&Objet show, I'm reminded of Nymphenburg and the grand, even modern display the 248-year-old porcelain house will likely have at one of the exposition halls.
Specifically, the dramatic spectacle that J.F. Chen has staged at his cavernous studio near Hollywood. As much artist as he is antiques dealer, Mr. Chen has carefully created a wondrous wonderland with Nymphenburg porcelain creatures and crucifixes, dried leaves culled from the forest and rocks and trees, bizarre antiques and gothic furnishings, and all to announce his entry as purveyor of the brand, specifically its new jewelry collection, in L.A.
The Nymphenburg estate, outside of Munich, is still owned by the Bavarian royal family, the Wittelsbachs. It's the family archives that provided such a rich source for jewelry designer Patrik Muff, enlisted to reimagine a few of its iconic talismans–angel wings, skulls and crosses–into an elegantly edgy 18-piece collection called "Essentials." Among the sources: A lifelike skull by Franz Ignaz Gunther from 1756, that was also on view among other white and black porcelain figures.
Patrik, a charming tall figure who did his best to communicate with us in his token English, pointed out the pendants trimmed in silver, gold and diamonds. The porcelain is as white as it is, he explained, because of the water of the Seine, which borders the estate and its workshops. The clay is then kept in the cellar for up to two years before it's painstakingly shaped and finished into the exquisite figurines and, now, jewelry bearing the Nymphenburg brand. Patrik's collection runs from $350 to $8,000.
The night of the opening party last month, a surprisingly glam affair, we were treated to special lighting and music and a menagerie of live ravens, owls and hawks (and their gloved handlers, of course). It was like a dream.
It all comes to an end at the end of the month, or at least this week, so play hookie and see it before it's gone. Or call and beg Mr. Chen to extend the installation. It's worth the visit.
J.F. Chen is at 941 N Highland Ave. 2nd floor, Los Angeles, CA 90038. 323-655-6310.
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