L’Arroseur Arrosé: Dries Criel in nine pressing questions.
You studied dance but started working as a job student at a diamond merchant in Antwerp. Why?
The fascination for jewellery and accessories is one of the wonderful interests my mother instilled in me. The memories and anecdotes in that regard go back to primary school. One day, we were given the task of illustrating our dream job through an interview with someone who was in that profession. I chose Goldsmith. So it’s not a surprise that the student job was a great place for a first introduction to a world that was incredibly fascinating to me. It all came together when I started my own brand.
At the time, you were barely 25. How would you describe your brand yourself?
I thought, ‘If not now, when’. I still think that today. I wanted and still want to chase my dream and try to make it come true, by trial and error if necessary. If I had to define my brand, I think first and foremost of freedom: the freedom to be who you are and who you want to be. Another pillar is craftsmanship, which I consider more important than ever. And, my creations are characterful, different but timeless.
All that you make, show and tell reveals an indomitable need to celebrate beauty. How do your creations come about?
Everything starts from inspiration, sometimes an obsession. It happens naturally: I don’t allow myself to think about it, it’s suddenly there, at the most unexpected moments and places. This is how I put together collages and from these my first sketches are born.
At the hands of talented craftsmen in Belgium and Italy, these sketches are subsequently developed into technical drawings and wax models. This creates the final pieces in gold, gemstones, enamel, …
You use a variety of materials. Where do they come from?
Origin is indeed very important to me. I bundle the sourcing of materials to a handful of suppliers with whom I have a close relationship and work together in complete transparency. I only work with certified gemstones. The 18ct gold I use meets the norms of the COP standards used by the Responsible Jewellery Council.
You don’t work with collections or seasons. Why is that?
That does not align with the way my creations come about. I group and present my pieces when the time feels right. I also consider it my mission to keep pieces from five years ago as fresh and ‘good’ as the most recent ones.
In other words, your jewellery is timeless and remains as good as contemporary. Where does your inspiration come from?
I am fortunate to be surrounded daily by inspiring and motivated personalities from home and abroad who are active in a wide variety of sectors. It is this energy that inspires and stimulates me daily, as does my love of travel, antique jewellery and architecture.
A recurring fascination with Egypt exudes from your creations. How did you acquire it?
Indeed, Egypt has gripped me since childhood. As I child I collected minerals and Egyptian figurines. They will always capture my imagination, especially because of the power they exude. I also still have a thing for contemporary and classical dance, … In short, I cherish a fundamental interest in art forms in the broad sense of the word. This includes my interest in unique individuals.
That may have everything to do with your desire for beauty. Does your jewellery have any other function beyond its aesthetic power?
My pieces are not intended for anyone in particular, nor for a certain gender or age. I consider them expressive and think they suit people who are looking for a jewel that makes them feel distinctive, special and unique. I envision them as a symbol of freedom and gratitude for our values, to empower the one who wears them. With every creation, I strive for the ‘ultimate’.
Final question. What jewellery could you wear yourself all the time?
I have a great fondness for distinct bracelets or bangles in set, for the lower and upper arm. Recently also for necklaces. And I am unconditionally attached to my engagement watch that I never take off.