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  • Elise Gonnet-Pon, managing director of L’École Asia Pacific

Interview with Elise Gonnet-Pon, MD of L’École Asia Pacific

L’École, School of Jewelry Arts supported by high jewellery maison Van Cleef & Arpels (VCA), will open its first overseas campus outside of Paris in Hong Kong in fall 2019. Managing director Elise Gonnet-Pon talks with Hong Kong Jewellery about the growing demand for arts and cultural experiences in the region, the course schedule and the new venue.


HKJM: Hong Kong Jewellery

EGP: Elise Gonnet-Pon


HKJM: Which subjects were most popular during the three traveling editions to Hong Kong?

EGP: From the response of the community during the previous traveling editions, Savoir-Faire courses, which allow each student to don a jeweller’s coat and personally handle and manipulate materials and tools, were among the most popular in Hong Kong. Students are guided personally by master jewellers, stone setters, designers, mock-up makers, drawing teachers and lacquer craftsmen, to become familiar with the jewellery gesture, techniques and know-how. These courses include ‘Trying Out the Jeweler’s Techniques’, ‘From Design to Mock-Up’, and ‘From French Jewels to Japanese Lacquer’.

Courses under the fields of Art History of Jewelry and The Universe of Gemstones were also popular with Hong Kong students. The former explores the practical and aesthetic evolution of jewellery from ancient times through today; and the latter illuminates the mysteries of how gems are formed and valued through observation and experimentation.


HKJM: Why is Hong Kong the right place to launch the first L’École outpost outside of Paris? 

EGP: After three successful traveling editions to Hong Kong along with our ongoing engagement with the local community over the past five years, we’ve observed a growing demand for jewellery arts education here through an amazing curiosity, a genuine interest to develop one’s knowledge and appreciation through meaningful learning experiences.

In addition, this is an exciting time in Hong Kong as the city is working to position itself as a leading arts and culture hub in Asia. We are really delighted to have found a perfect home for the second L’École at K11 MUSEA, a unique cultural destination situated in the heart of Hong Kong’s art and design district Victoria Dockside, sharing common values of public education of art and transmission. With our ideal location in the city, we are looking forward to welcoming many more students from all over Asia Pacific.


HKJM: What are the main features of the programmes to start end of 2019?

EGP: L’École Asia Pacific is open to the public’s online registration now for the 17 courses with topics covering the three main themes of Savoir-Faire, Art History of Jewelry and The Universe of Gemstones.

For this first-ever overseas campus, we are looking forward to bringing some of L’École Paris’ most popular courses to Hong Kong. We are particularly excited about the courses that will be offered for the first time to Hong Kong students: ‘First Steps into the World of Jewelry’ invites students to explore all aspects of jewellery, and ‘The Engagement Ring: History, Gemology and Know-How’ explores history and best-kept secrets behind the symbol of love and romance.

For students who are curious about the history of jewellery, ‘Gold and Jewelry: From Antiquity to the Renaissance Princes’ and ‘A History of Jewelry: From Louis XIV to Art Deco’ would be great new courses to try out.


HKJM: How are L’École’s classes different from others in the region?

EGP: Globally, L’École is a unique educational and cultural initiative of its kind providing highly qualitative yet accessible content with hands-on experience with no prerequisite for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

By launching the first permanent campus in the region, we offer to break down barriers to the vast and enchanting world of jewellery for everyone, from passionate connoisseurs to the general public to explore this fascinating universe. L’École’s all-inclusive approach enables each student or visitor, everyone who’s passionate to learn without any prerequisite.

In addition to providing courses, talks and curated jewellery exhibitions throughout the year in Paris and Hong Kong, L’École has expanded its educational programmes worldwide with special courses, talks, publications and exhibitions in locations such as Tokyo, New York and Dubai. L’École carries several research projects and partnerships with museums and academic institutions. It also offers online educational videos and a library specialised in jewellery arts.


HKJM: What can students expect to achieve from the programmes?

EGP: While learning from the most expert and passionate teachers, students can expect to gain invaluable knowledge about the jewellery world, to develop their own appreciation and to gain experience in part of the sophisticated jewellery crafting process with their own hands from the courses.

Along with the courses, L’École Asia Pacific will also offer a full-year programme that includes Workshops for Young People (5 to 17-year-old), Evening Conversations and free admission curated exhibitions showcasing jewellery arts from the most magnificent private collections, as well as remarkable creations by contemporary artists.


HKJM: What are the design features of the new location?

EGP: Our second L’École, School of Jewelry Arts overlooking Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour is designed by renowned Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, who has imagined a modern identity for our second venue, with organic shapes that play with the natural daylight of the location. L’École Asia Pacific occupies two levels, featuring intimate classrooms, workshops and exhibition space, as well as a specialised library housing over 600 books on jewellery arts as a start.


HKJM: How important is jewellery culture education to VCA?

EGP: Since the very early years, sharing and transmission values have been part of the identity of VCA, the craftsmanship passed on from master to apprentice in the workshops, and the will to share the masterpieces with the widest audience during the world exhibitions. VCA supports L’École’s broad educational mission to instill an intellectual and emotional understanding of the exceptional art form, and to provide accessible, hands-on engagement for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

In less than a decade, L’École has already welcomed over 30,000 alumni from 50 different nationalities worldwide through its courses and talks, and 32,000 visitors to its exceptional exhibitions. The success of L’École is a testimony of VCA’s dedication to support jewellery arts education and the Maison is looking forward to giving even more people access to L’École’s expertise and unique offerings through its support of the second permanent campus in Hong Kong. (Photo courtesy: VCA and L’École) 


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