The Royal Jewellers S01 ep15 : Stefan Hafner Jewellery [Bologna]
Interview with Stefan Hafner
BOLOGNA- Stefan Hafner - Jeweller to the Stars.
You know I've had Royal Highnesses in front of me or me in front of her, now I get confused if she is in front of me or I am in front of her because there is a moment you are there, you are shy, you are a bit nervous , when she looks at it and she loves it. This is the moment you feel equal to anybody in this world. It is such a gratifying feeling. You need this like you need food! But it has one draw back. It is not a money making proposition really. A friend of mind told me "Stefan you are too much in love with this business you will never make money". But I am happy if I make enough to give life to these designs you see.
KM: What is Stefan Hafner?
We have become masters in using the air - the empty space, because the
empty space costs nothing, but it is probably the most important component of
KM: What is a Swiss doing in the jewellery business in Italy?
First of all my mother is Italian, my father was Swiss and when I was 20 I
always wanted to go to Italy to study about Art and I got very interested in the
artistic aspects of what could be done if you let out what you have inside and
express your feelings, your passion and your emotions. And also I had a
dream to do something myself.
KM: So what did you do, did you go to an Art university?
So as to please my father I started off studying watchmaking.
KM: Where in Switzerland
Yes in Switzerland. This school taught you everything about the inside, but it
was more to please my father, because in my family my father’s brother had a
watch factory. But I was not very happy with this little world of watch
movements of 1 metre by .50 cm and I went to Japan for the watch business
in 1960 I think, and we always go stuck with the dress that you should make
for this damn movement because they were so slow these Swiss. They only
saw it from the time keeping point of view. When I saw this stubbornness in
this Swiss Watch making industry I felt to be totally limited so I went back and
said that I wanted to get out of all of it. I started in Italy creating bracelets. The
first thing I did was hiring one or two designers.
Luckily I had this foresightedness because after a year or so already a second
one joined us and since then we have always had a very strong designing
force in the design department. These designers accompanied me to all the
shows we attended - there are about 24, 25, 26 shows - from Basel, to Taiwan
to Hong Kong.
KM: So they could see what else was happening?
They can relate directly to the customers. These ladies who come in, I mean
they we two could talk about an ear clip fitting.
KM: It is a waste of time.
It is a waste of time. You have some basic ideas but it is better when you have
women because everything moves much quicker.
Very often luckily I see pieces from the area of Beirut or South East Asia or
Hong Kong. It is like an elephant was walking on this jewellery it is flat first of
all, Number 2. There are however some exceptions in that area who are
dramatically improving. Now if you start to shape things properly, start to use
the air properly or you start using elements of colours or back to nature or not
nature or more architectural in design it is as I said ... it moves at the speed of
technical design, of sculpture and not necessarily always about the value. You
know to make something for $5,000 or $10,000 it is much bigger a challenge
than something for $50,000 or $100,000. I think at this point I would like to
stress very strongly jewellery is for everybody but who is making it like in our
case you have to love this business, you have to feel it. We do because we
feel it, we don’t do it just to make turnover or produce or manufacture.
You know it is all about simplicity and movement. There is one French saying
which I would say explains the whole thing "Ferre Vivre Le Tre" Make one
straight line live. That is one of a seam when it comes to essentialism.
KM: Where do you get your people from are they from Italy or from
everywhere in the world.
Most come from Italy
KM: Why do the Italians have a feel for jewellery?
You see I tell you when you call for instance on a Sunday morning at say 6.30
a.m. or at 10.00 p.m. at night on a Sunday on a Saturday we are there
because there are people who are so enthusiastic. For instance one of our
goldsmiths if he is at the 3/4 stage of this piece he does not want to stop he
would like to finish it to see how it looks.
KM: So how did you know you had what it took?
You know somewhere in my childhood I may have developed a complex or
sorts. I needed to take out of my pocket 20, 10 or 15 cents, and I needed from
somebody for affirmation to say Stefan this is fantastic. These are not so nice,
but these are... how come you made these. You see it becomes a personal
challenge. You want to go back and say from the next 20 hopefully maybe two
pieces he likes. And we make a little group around. Some women look at me
at the Basel fair and or at some place and have a piece in their hand. You
know I had Royal Highnesses in front of me or me in front of them, now I get
confused if she is in front of me or I am in front of her because there is a
moment you are there, you are shy, you are a bit nervous. There is a moment
when she looks at it and she loves it, and another one and she cannot choose
between three or four. This is the moment you feel equal to anybody in this
world. It is such a gratifying feeling. You need this like you need food, but it
has maybe one draw back it is not a money making proposition really. You
know one friend of mind told me also Stefan you are too much in love with this
business you will never make money. But I am happy if I make enough to give
life to these designs you see.
KM: What part of you eats that? Is it the Italian or the Swiss or both?
No I really don't know because that was the beginning but then you meet so
many interesting people but I am not talking only of money. You know from
Architect to Royalty to normal people who give new input they add new spices
to the whole thing and then it becomes an international mixture.
KM: What is jewellery why do we need it?
Because people need to make a point with a difference especially in these last
few years. They don't only want to show that they are rich they want to show
they have taste.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Stefan Hafner Jewellery