Art & D: silver hands and pearly vision

Strategically positioned between the centre of Geneva and the watch manufacturers in Plan-les-Ouates, the company founded by Dick Steenman consists of around a dozen talented individuals as creative as they are complementary. Imbued with an exploratory, den-like atmosphere, these workshops in the craft and industry area of Carouge exude a blend of fluidity and pragmatism. Housed in Ali Baba mini caverns, work stations are placed around an open space where the administrative functions rub shoulders with the lounge area and kitchen. Everyone is dressed in shorts and t-shirts, smiles at the ready, and noses in their microscopes, eyes glued to a prototype fresh out of the CNC machine or fingers ruffling through precious stones. The atmosphere is laboriously positive.

“I love being in the workshop – creating, sharing a concept with my team and my clients, but above all not focused on business”, explains this self-taught entrepreneur, who never tires of developing new techniques. The latest string to his bow is called “glyptique” – and is the art of engraving gems or precious stones, also used on coral or petrified wood. Twenty years of experience in setting and engraving have encouraged him to push the boundaries of what is considered technically possible and the miniaturisation of the art. To him, mother-of-pearl tension collage, engraving under enamel with gemsetting involving stones measuring just 0.5 mm in diameter, or hollowing out curved cases, simply represent more challenges to be taken on with fresh enthusiasm.

This versatile passion and know-how in the realm of jewellery, sculpture, design and even box building has resulted in a very wide range of clients for Art & D – big Swiss or French brands in search of small runs reflecting the trade, Asian collectors of highly specific one-off pieces, commissions from top of the range private labels – there is no shortage of work.

“We work with all materials, and thanks to our multi-skilled craftsmen, we are able to manage entire projects from A to Z,  either from sketches or a simple discussion”, says Dick Steenman, whose favourite pastime is creating his own pieces, throwing out ideas like a painter casts his first stroke on a canvas, and then getting them taken on board by clients.

“Our office can create pieces in 3D, program machines and create prototypes, as well as their parts, in the realm of works of art and miniatures. The only boundary to be respected is when it comes to creating a brand. I’ve seen too many friends give in to temptation and end up being eaten up from the inside out”, says this man who has made Geneva his home.

Art & D is nonetheless preparing one exceptional piece in the form of a “show-watch” that will serve as a means of communicating on the company’s skills, contrary to the models confidentially created for prestigious names.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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