Design & Decoration S04 ep16 : Otto Jacob, Jacob Jewellery, [STATE]

Interview with Otto Jacob

At 17 years old Otto Jakob began to teach himself to make jewelry. Inspired by the magic and artistic power of Etruscan, Celtic and Hellenic masterpieces, he learned their complex techniques using treatises by Pliny and Cellini. Between 1977 and 1980 he studied painting with Georg Baselitz. Since 1980 he has devoted himself exclusively to the creation of jewelry.


Otto Jakob is my name, but it’s not a brand. I wanted to do artistic intricate, usually,
intricate one of a kind artistic, one of a kind things never seen before. 13:01

I wanted to become a word famous painter. I studied in Germany. I had a world famous
teacher, George Baselitz. When I finished my studies I made an analyze of my work. I
did it till now and I said you are not a painter; you have to do something different.

I wanted to do something no one in the world will be able to do it like I do. And so I
got the ideas for jewelry in this crisis. And then I saw exactly the pieces, I didn’t have to
invent them, I saw them. The only thing what I had to learn - the technique how to do
this. 14:03

The start was very historic, The Etruscans, the Old Greeks, because I knew you have to
learn all the old techniques and they were no more taught at school. And so, that was
one of the reasons I said I have to teach myself. 14:27

Oh, the contemporary jewelry was not good enough for my start, I wanted to be
unlimited. I had my vision of my pieces of jewelry; I had to do one after the other. I
knew what to do, and now I am working since 32 years. If the benchmark is high
enough, we never end. 15:04

Henry Dunay Jewellery

Benvenuto Cellini for example, he wrote a book not only about his unusual life, he also
wrote a book about techniques of sculpturing, making jewelry and all the different
things you could learn. When he wrote about enameling, how to enamel, he said,
“Now I tell you how to enamel brilliant ruby red. You can try to do this, but finally you
will never do it like I am able to do it.” So he was very self confident, so that was
forcing me more than making me anxious. 15:54

Fortunately, I was at school learning Latin, so I was not very good in Latin, but it was
good enough to translate a book of Plinius. He wrote a very, very good about all the
different techniques of craftsmanship in the old Rome. And so I found out to granulate,
how to repouse, how to do a lot of things. 16:29

In the beginning I bought tools and I got a catalogue but, I was so far away from
practise and I bought some tools, they were three times bigger than I thought. Finally I
found methods to be able to use them. 16:53
If I look to my kind of workmanship now, I see a range of very unusually different
methods and different inventions I made, because I was too proud to ask anyone how
would you do this? 17:19

I did it alone, I didn’t ask anyone, I went to museums, I wrote those art books and I was
completely full of passion. 17:38

Henry Dunay Jewellery

I taught myself to work with very thin sheets of metal, the Repouse work, the
Etruscans did, or the Greeks did, that was always very light, very thin and people who
looked at it who regularly taught, in goldsmithing, they say, how did they? I had to, so I
learn! 18:13

As long as I have a painter, I felt like a sailor without any harbors. When you are young
and you are strong willed and you know what to paint. And so, even when I thought
the ideas and I wrote all the ideas down and then I went through, when I work over the
years, all these beautiful things from the first piece, I knew I’m at home. 18:53


George Baselitz, we met again by accident, and he said what are you doing? And I said I
make jewelry, and he said good, and I said good. And he said, 3 o’clock this afternoon,
where do you live? And I gave him my address. And then he came and he look at it he
shaked his head. And then he went out and then he left 1000 marked bills and said do
something for Elke I think that was my first commission. 19:31

Then came an important German Art dealer who worked with David Hackney, Lucio
Fontana and other good stuff , I left, and her saw my pieces and George Baselitz,
because he was also an artist he dealt with. He wrote me a letter from a fancy place of
St. Moritz. And he said I saw your work, and I never saw something stunning like this in
jewelry, we should meet soon to talk about your future. He said I would like to give you
money, go live a country life, go to a nice place, don’t let anyone in. Come twice a year
to me and offer me your things and I will buy everything; and will buy everything. And
I ask him what are you willing to do with it in the future - when you have 20, or 50 or
more pieces? And then he said, we will open a stone at the plasma film or elsewhere,
we will find a good idea, do your thing. 20:28

Henry Dunay Jewellery

It took five years. He bought everything, no one saw it. He took it into the safe and
after three years, I asked him sometimes, don’t you have an idea for an exhibition?
You have pieces enough to do it. And he said no, I haven’t an idea, do you have an
idea? After a while, my privilege turned into something like a buriel because your
pieces are put away, no one looks at it. Then I thought probably, he’s crazy and he’s
crazy and no one likes it anymore, probably. One year later I thought I have to start my
own career. 21:48

And then I started doing catalogues, and doing advertising in German Vogue. I went to
the bank, shortly before there was a big article about my unusual work in a German
important magazine STERN And they found me and they made a seven page article
about me with fantastic photographs and everything. And I went to the bank with this
article, and I said, I want to have my studio in this flat and I have to do a good
renovation work. And I need € 8000 euros (mark at this time); and you should give me
this I will bring it three times back for you; and they gave it to me. They wouldn’t do it
today! 22:57

Henry Dunay Jewellery

Some advertisings, I had so much success, I was empty. I had five pieces, I saw it
worked and then I started to engage a master, second Masters, after a while I had six
masters. But, in fact now I do something different, I start with young people, which are
open-minded and that is much more interesting because they are not so limited.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Otto Jacob, Jocob Jewellery, ????