BeanScene Magazine


Bini Gallery: Wearable art

From the November 2013 issue.
Bini Gallery: Wearable art

More like an exhibition space than a jewellery store, Bini Gallery is a showcase of wearable art. Made using both modern and ancient techniques, the collection offers an eclectic mix of contemporary jewellery by local and international artists.

Bini Gallery was the dream of Lorenza Bini, and every piece that makes it into her store has been carefully hand-selected. She was inspired by the contemporary jewellery makers of Italy and wanted to offer a collection that was both distinctive and wearable.

Born in Bologna, Lorenza worked at a photographic gallery in Milan and coordinated exhibitions in galleries and museums such as Ferrara’s Palazzo dei Diamanti and Rome’s Palazzo Venezia, before moving to Melbourne eight years ago.

Passionate about jewellery, after moving to Australia she decided to use her experience in organising exhibitions and dealing with artists to create her own jewellery ‘gallery’.

“In Australia, there is an element of fun and readiness to embrace and enjoy new ideas. Australian style is open and adventurous and this brings fantastic enthusiasm. When I arrived here, I thought about what I could bring to Australia, what I could bring to this fantastic culture. Australia is so full of opportunities so it is easy to be inspired to take new risks – and so far it is working for me.

“I’m slowly building something. I knew what my intention was – to bring something new, something I had yet to find here in Australia. I could see there was room for a different kind of jewellery offering. In Italy, there is a strong link between jewellery and arts and crafts. Much of the not precious jewellery produced in Italy is made by artisans. For example, our glass jewellery comes from artists in Venice’s glass studios. But it isn’t just about making glass, it’s about combining different materials and creating something unique in terms of design.”

Three years ago, on 15 October 2010, Lorenza opened the doors to Bini Gallery in the inner Melbourne suburb of Collingwood. Designed by her architect husband, Lorenzo Nuti, the store is both elegant and uncomplicated with its white walls and white tables, embellished by the wooden and chequered flooring, and a lone ceiling rose.

Jewellery pieces are openly displayed on white tables and in open drawers, waiting to be touched, admired and tried on.

“The store is like a gallery. I think my past work has helped me a great deal. In Italy, theory and practicality are separated. I studied literature and art history, but never learned to be hands on. But I recognised that my previous life and experiences were useful in what I was trying to achieve. When you are interested in art, you can apply your taste. I’m not a jewellery maker, but I love what I am doing. Passion is really important.

“I wanted to avoid silver and other standard jewellery materials, but at the same time I was searching for quality. I’m not looking for anything weird, instead it is about creativity and the quality of design,” Lorenza adds.

In the beginning, almost the entire collection was produced by Italian artists, however it has now expanded to include pieces by several local artists such as Linda Van Niekerk. Born in South Africa and now based in Tasmania’s Huon Valley, Linda is recognised for her use of clean simple lines, unusual materials and bold sculptural volumes. Her designs often allude to her African heritage, but use natural Tasmanian materials like driftwood, precious timbers and tidal stone.

Linda’s work recently featured in an exhibition at Bini Gallery alongside pieces by Italian designer Alberta Vita, who studied at the Pietro Selvatico Art Institute of Padua in Northern Italy, where she later taught. Her jewellery is contemporary, influenced by the study of pure geometrical forms and her passion for precious stones.
At a contemporary jewellery exhibition in Melbourne in 2011 that showcased pieces made by 16 artists of the renowned Padua Jewellery School, Lorenza met Alberta and fellow artist Lucia Davanzo at the event’s opening night.

Alberta visited Bini Gallery, and from there, Lorenza began selling pieces by both artists, along with pieces by Giampaolo Babetto, a master of the Padua Jewellery School and a renowned goldsmith. “His pieces are very exclusive, they are on display at several museums around the world,” Lorenza says.

She adds that it is important to find a balance between exclusive pieces and those that are more affordable. “I like that I can be selective of what I sell in my store, but I think it is important to ensure there are pieces that can cater to every budget.”

Today, Bini Gallery offers an eclectic collection of jewellery pieces. Although the majority are by Italian and Australian artists, there are also items from France, Chile and Japan.

Lorenza places a distinct emphasis on materials and her collection includes a wide variety – from glass, ceramic, vinyl, lace, aluminium, fabric and leather, to more unique products like balloons, bread, rice, flower petals and even pieces made with coloured pencils by artist Maria Cristina Bellucci. Her pencil collection is made by fusing coloured pencils together and working them as a single piece of wood.

“You can play with materials and achieve a great result, even if the materials aren’t precious,” says Lorenza. “I think it is very Italian to look for beauty in everything, regardless of the price tag. From the time we are born, we are surrounded by beautiful things. It is a challenge to create something that is beautifully designed and distinctive.
For Lorenza, wearability is the key. “Pieces need to be wearable. Every piece in my collection makes you feel special even if you are wearing it with a pair of jeans. The beauty of jewellery, for a jewellery maker, is that the pieces can be artistic yet you also need to think of how the piece can be worn. It can be creative but has to be useful, to have a purpose and to be in harmony with the person wearing it.”

For more information on Bini Gallery or to view more pieces from the collection, please visit www.binigallery.com.au.

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