A conversation with jewelry designer Saskia Diez

How did you arrive at the idea of showcasing this rather unorthodox material in such a prominent setting?

Anna Schetelich from the OONA Schmuckgalerie in Berlin approached me, asking if I would like to be part of an exhibition around the concept of Home. You see, I am not originally from Munich, but I grew up by the water, and being next to water has always felt like home to me. My grandfather used to keep stones in his stash that a craftsman would saw open for him and polish the cut side. As a child, I was totally intrigued by how polishing stones would make them so valuable while on the outside they looked rather unremarkable. Those were ordinary stones with quartz veins, of the kind that you find a lot in the Alpine foothills. So I started collecting stones on the banks of the Isar. Meanwhile I have acquired quite the eye for stones that yield beautiful effects or have good inside qualities. First, the stone is cut into slices, then into cubes, which then are polished into round spheres, so that you can get several pieces out of one pebble.

The series is also a symbol for how the quality of a product not only hinges on the highly priced material. What defines high-quality design for you personally?

For me, quality is very much about how you handle the material and the processes. The Isar pebbles, for example, are all covered with a fine layer of dust on the outside, they are rugged, and if you walk along the Isar beach, they all pretty much look the same. Once they get wet, you can get an idea of what they might look like on the inside. However, their intrinsic beauty is brought out by their selection and by craftsmanship. The work carried out on the stone, the grinding and polishing, is what you will find reflected in the piece. Good manufacturing, good design and good craftsmanship generally make a good product.

High-quality design, in my view, emerges when you handle things properly and seek to bring out the beauty of the individual components and allow them to stand for themselves.

You work and live here in the Glockenbach quarter. How does that inspire your work?

The Glockenbach quarter is a neighbourhood where you don't really feel like you are in the big city because you're practically surrounded by nature, and at the same time, everything is close by. There's a lot of green, the Isar is just around the corner and traffic is fairly low. Then there is a number of studios, workshops and stores in the area that are run by people I work with, or who I am friends with, or who are both friends and cooperation partners. You can see that something is happening here, things come to life, and you are in the company of people who all follow their passions - whether it's a cool bar, delicious petit fours or croissants, clothes, music or design. To me, that alone is one of the most inspiring aspects of this part of the city.

The interview with Saskia Diez was first published as an audio interview at MCBW 2022 as part of the MCBW DESIGNWALK Glockenbach.