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“Like Wearing Nature”: New Jewelry at The Met Breuer

Discover the exclusive range designed by Marta Larsson

In 1966, the Met Breuer building, then the new home of the Whitney Museum of Art, opened to the public. Grounded by the architect Marcel Breuer’s (American (born Hungary) 1902–81) training at the Bauhaus school, the building’s design is characterized by what he called “heavy lightness,” a visual play between weighty dark granite panels of the facade and its seemingly floating, “upside-down ziggurat” design.

“What should a museum look like, a museum in Manhattan?” Breuer is quoted as saying, “It is easier to say first what it should not look like. It should not look like a business or office building, nor should it look like a palace of light entertainment. Its form and its material should have identity and weight in the neighborhood of 50-story skyscrapers, of mile-long bridges, in the midst of the dynamic jungle of our colorful city. It should be an independent and self-relying unit, exposed to history, and at the same time, it should have a visual connection to the street, as it deems the housing for 20th-century art. It should transform the vitality of the street into the sincerity and profundity of art.”

The Met Breuer. Photo by Ed Lederman.

 

Breuer’s vision has served as inspiration for artists, architects, and designers since he first designed the iconic Cesca side chair in 1928. One such artist, Märta Larsson, inspired by the design of The Met Breuer building, has created an elegant line of jewelry featuring pyrite stones.

Today, we speak with Larsson to learn about her designs, available for purchase now at our Met Breuer store. Visit or call 212-731-1648 for pricing information.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I grew up in a small, quiet village in Lapland, in the north of Sweden, surrounded by lakes and forests. I always felt an urge to live in a big city; it seemed very exciting to me. Growing up I loved arts and craft, dancing, and music. 

When I was at art school, I studied dance in the beginning. I absolutely loved it and immersed myself in it. Breaking everything down into pieces and conforming to what the teachers wanted or expected slowly took away the fun and joy of dance for me. Feeling a deep need to express myself differently led me to start a band at age 22. I fell in love and moved to London. I put an ad in the New Musical Express (NME) magazine saying, “Female singer looking for band with fire. I like Stooges, Patti Smith, and Me, London.” I found my band, and I became the lead singer. I loved performing, recording music, and hanging out with the colorful underground creatives at the Colony Room Club in London, my favorite place on earth (though sadly it closed down a few years back). After a while, I started making jewelry to wear on stage, and people kept asking me where to buy it.

I see that you’ve been involved with the arts in a variety of ways, ranging from dance to music and now jewelry. Can you tell me about that evolution?

I love being able to move in between different art forms. It is very liberating, and each one inspires another. My boyfriend, Gunnar, and I are working on some new music at the moment, which is very exciting! Studying ballet, which is very refined and elegant, mixed with the purity and rawness of punk, has definitely had an impact on my jewelry design.

One of Larsson’s designs for The Met Breuer. Visit or call 212-731-1648 for pricing information. Photograph by Alexander Bello.

 

How did you learn how to design jewelry?

I had some training with a jewelry designer in London, but I am mainly self-taught. Once I started, I became absorbed in making jewelry, and I haven’t stopped since. I spent about two years experimenting until I came across raw stones, and I totally and utterly fell in love with them. I think it may have something to do with my upbringing in nature, and even though I have lived in large cities (Stockholm, London) since I was 17, it has left a mark on me. I want to create pieces that are untouched, like wearing nature.

How do you define your aesthetic? 

My aesthetic is natural, pure, and unique yet empowering. My jewelry is meant to be a statement or conversation piece. It is about elevating or simply letting nature express itself in its unending variation. Part of my fascination with stones comes from the infinite patterns in nature, which also makes each piece unique.

A necklace designed by Larsson is shown here styled as an elegant hair accessory. Visit or call 212-731-1648 for pricing information. Photo by Alexander Bello.

 

What interests you in working with natural stones—what makes them unique compared to other materials or jewelry-making techniques (3-D printing, metalwork, precious gems, etc.)?

The first time I visited a large stone importer in England, I went inside and was standing in a hall packed to the brim with stones. I almost started hyperventilating with excitement. It was almost too much to take in, and I didn’t know where to start. I still remember that feeling of being in paradise. I still travel and handpick the stones. I get such a high from finding a new mind-blowing stone.

Nature has a way of making unlimited varieties and forms that to me feel much more interesting and beautiful then any manmade material. That’s why I always work with unpolished stones. I find an interesting expression in a particular stone that I love, and I aim to elevate and present it most clearly and expressively. 

More designs by Larsson at our Met Breuer store. Visit or call 212-731-1648 for pricing information.

 

Can you tell me about the inspiration behind your pieces for The Met Breuer? I’d love to hear about the process from conception to production.

It is very representative of what I do, from the very small and precious (like The Raw One Necklace) to the big, bold statement necklace (such as the Not a Pearl Necklace in pyrite).

When I work on a collection and get the right feeling, the designs usually come quickly to me, and I just go with the flow. I am very meticulous when picking and pairing stones together and put a lot of effort into every detail.

I wanted this collection to feel very modern and edgy, so I chose stones that were asymmetrical, which makes them really stand out in a crowd and mirror the architecture of The Met Breuer beautifully. 

The artist, shown here, poses with one of her designs. Photo by Alexander Bello.

 

How does it feel to have your work offered for sale in a museum setting?

 I am honored to sell my jewelry at The Met Breuer. I do feel that stones are nature’s own pieces of art, so in a way it is natural that they should be there. 

Have you ever visited The Met? If so, do you have a favorite object? Can you tell us about your experience?

I love the Modern and Contemporary collection and Greek and Roman galleries at The Met Fifth Avenue. They are so beautiful and peaceful. The Met is full of inspiration for me. 

Reply

  1. I love the idea of showing up in fool’s gold. These uncommon minerals could be a commoner’s answer to “fine jewelry.” Lots of potential for lovely social commentary in pyrite and other rocks. But we may have to become artists ourselves in order to afford these pendants. This work is inspiring. —– Or is it like showing up in ripped jeans that cost several hundred dollars.

    Reply

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