Jens Sierra Lingemann couldn’t be nicer. Even though he doesn’t go to his beautiful studio and gallery on Mondays, he made an exception and we spent the whole afternoon talking, looking at his beautiful jewelry and finding out more about his story and interests.
Jens Atelier is in a quiet neighborhood of Berlin that has a very local vibe to it. And it’s just short of amazing. As I walk in, the gallery space in the front feels like a minimalist art gallery, with beautiful wood floors, white walls and ornate cornice on the ceilings. There’s something that makes it feel very welcoming, maybe the flowers with the modern cases or the sitting area. And of course, Jens himself.
It’s interesting when you email someone and then meet them in person. When I was exchanging emails with Jens he was very quick to reply and was probably the fastest designer ever to email me back the questionnaire with the answers (less than a hour after I had sent it to him, which is very impressive and probably part of his German efficiency). The answers were short and straight to the point but I couldn’t figure out much about him. So when I got to his studio and met him I found out that he has an extremely interesting background that doesn’t show up on the questionnaire. And since it’s such a rich and serendipitous story that I feel like it would be shame not to share it.
Jens was in his first year of an engineering degree when he thought something was amiss in his life. One of his friends had a friend that did jewelry for a living and he decided to go see for himself what a jeweler’s life was all about. You probably guessed right, cause he loved it and decided to quit engineering school and get an apprenticeship. So, very rationally he opened the yellow pages and contacted 2 local jewelers. His criteria: reaching out to the jeweler with the biggest and smallest ad in there. The person from the smaller ad replied and asked him to come over. For some reason when Jens tried to get to this jeweler's studio he couldn’t find the entrance, so they ended up not meeting. Some time later, Jens hears about an opening for an apprenticeship with a local jeweler. He meets the jeweler who will become his mentor, and guess what? This was the same person that he couldn’t find the studio entrance in the first time. So you see, serendipity works in mysterious ways.
The apprenticeship went so well that his mentor suggested Jens to go Pforzheim and get his jewelry degree there (note: Pforzheim is a town in the southwest of Germany known for its jewelry and watchmaking industry and schools). And so he did, he got his degree and after that had an opportunity to move to the USA to Miami, which he also did. He spent some time in Florida but decided to go back to Germany and settle in Berlin with his family. And this is when he opened his gallery/studio space.
Even though this is a very clean atelier, the whole space is infused with special details. On the front part of the gallery there is an art installation where casted brass wheat plants, with long slender leafs, are coming out of the ground. Jens got the real wheat on a trip to the countryside, molded and casted it and created the art installation at his studio. For him anything related to nature and organic objects is such a source of inspiration, that having these objects in the space is an integral part of his work. And when you see his jewelry you understand the connection and the enthusiasm he has when he talks about it.
I also got the chance to see him go through the ritual of filling up his cases and choosing the jewelry for each of them. He has a particular eye for detail and every décor object that goes into a case with the jewelry has a special story to go with it as well. It’s fascinating and interesting at the same time, because it makes the space very contemporary and modern and at the same time it’s very personal because of the adornments in the cases. And honestly, I’ve never seen an arrangement of flowers be so in tune with the jewelry and vibe of the place. It influences the mood and look of the gallery space.
Another detail that I found so sweet and important is the hand mirror that Jens has on the table where he sits with clients. It’s an old piece, in silver and engraved in the back. Apparently Jens found out his passion for jewelry runs in the family. His great great grand parents used to own a jewelry store that got destroyed and this was one of the few objects that survived. He kept it and put it to use when he opened his current gallery space.
The studio space is a treasure cove as well. Jens is as much of a master jeweler as he is an avid learner of anything new. He fabricates everything (from melting the gold to do sheet or wire) to using a lathe machine which he also uses for stone setting (which I believe it’s the engineer in him). He was trained more in fabrication than in wax carving but that doesn’t stop him from being a proficient wax carver as well. I love that most of his files have a colorful handle. He used a very colorful kind of plaster for a client’s project and used the spare to create an anatomical handle for his files. Around the bench area you also find a jewelry bookcase, beautiful drawings from his children scattered around and a gorgeous red folding screen that his mentor and jeweler friend gifted him.
An afternoon went by really fast. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to visit and meet Jens in person and hear his very interesting story. This is a true gem of a place that you should visit when in Berlin. Jens, a heartfelt thank you for this visit!
JENS SIERRA LINGEMANN
Gallery: LUDWIGKIRCHSTRASSE 3, 10719 BERLIN, Germany P:+49 (0) 30 2361 2380
How did you become a jewelry designer?
“By chance, I got trained at one of the most interesting places for jewelry design”
What’s the first thing you do when you get to the studio?
“Clean the windows – so fulfilling”
What do you like most about your space?
“I love to bring it to life everyday, through arranging my work and decorating the place”
Pick 3 objects in your studio that make it yours:
“1. My great-great-grand mother’s hand mirror
2. A small collection of old man-made crib figures for decoration
3. Plenty of my drawings made by my children."
What’s your favorite spot in the studio?
“It’s the showcase. I change it every 2-3 days – so much fun to do!
What do you love/hate doing at the bench?
“Love to determine the shape and proportions and all the details of a piece while I’m making it”
What makes you procrastinate?
"Any bureaucratic work"
What is currently inspiring you?
“so much input – I can’t tell: nature, love, colors, gems, fruit …”
Currently obsessed with which gemstone/metal?
“A greenish/yellowish/milky opal”
Piece of jewelry you’re most proud of?
“Couldn’t tell – there is not this one master piece”
What’s your dream jewelry piece?
“I couldn’t stop naming pieces, so many ideas at the back of my mind- probably with plenty of gemstones.”
Worst piece of jewelry you had to design/create?
“I wouldn’t do that”
What’s the longest period you spent at the studio and why?
“I made a 14cm golden sphere, gimbal mounted on a tripod made of iron. That demanded quite some overtime.”
What’s on your desk right now?
“A diamond sapphire necklace – almost done”
If you weren’t a jewelry designer?
“The Sherline lathe and mill 4410. Love it!”