I was recently asked why I became an artist – what was the inspirational spark? I thought back to my childhood, the hours I spent climbing over the stacks of wood in my father Carlo’s lumberyard in rural Ostrach and the countless books I read: densely printed pages through which I discovered the rest of the world. I was captured by the fantastic places described in these books, but moreover by the atlas that took me on my most remote adventures – if only in my mind’s eye. All these years later, I love to travel, to meet interesting people, to collect pictures of street art, contemporary and medieval architecture, patterns, textures and tastes – all of which I approach with a child-like appetite for discovery and curiosity. It is this same curiosity that attracts me to a specific stone, to explore the juxtaposition between color combinations or between two unusual objects, then uncover a feeling, an encounter, a story, and draw it into a single object.
A major source of my inspiration is found in natural structures and growth patterns. This could be the contrasts between opposites, like a delicate flower blossoming on a sturdy stem; or the view from a window in New York, high above the street, where people, nature and technology seem to merge into a single, complex graphical entity. We have a strong affinity for forms and shapes, for textures, colors and contrasts. And, while we honor the fragile beauty of something that has grown naturally, we also find great beauty and hidden patterns in the urban world. My intention is to be receptive to the world’s many artistic and visual influences and the infinite variety of stimuli they provide. For example, a few years after I studied goldsmithing at the Vocational College of Design, Jewelry and Tools in Schwäbisch Gmünd, I became interested in the Japanese lacquering technique urushi and was awarded a scholarship to study this in topic depth at the Escuela Masana in Barcelona. The world inspires us on many levels, and I seek to embed each layer of inspiration in our work.
You might have heard Peter Schmid referred to as a ‘stone whisperer’. He sees it as central to his craft to know gemstones intimately, as individual personalities. He begins by selecting stones that are very distinct, both in character and in the extraordinary way they are cut. Peter looks carefully at each stone, feeling it in his hands and listening to it tell him how it wants to be presented – how he can help it become truly alive. Then he takes time to carefully set the stones in ways that intensify their sparkle, brilliance and luminous colors, or highlight their specific structure. By working in this way he may turn an individual stone into a brilliant star, or help it take its place in a dialogue with other unique stones, each of which enhances the allure of the other. Every stone and every piece has its own distinct story. When you visit our studio you may well see some of Peter’s personal collection, and perhaps hear him tell a tale or two: each stone has its own individual history, bound up in its intrinsic energy. There are other stones still waiting for their moment. This is the time when some inkling, idea or inspiration convinces Peter that it’s time to put a particular stone to work in a specific piece of purpose-designed jewelry, so it can leave his collection to join that of a client. Indeed, many of Atelier Zobel’s clients are passionate collectors who enjoy owning and treasuring his jewelry creations just as much as they relish wearing them.