Claudio Gussini is a true expert in his field. A senior jewelry designer who’s love for the great arts and sculpture reflects in his designs. A lovely person, with so much to share! Read about his life and his vision on design, the jewelry industry and much more in this open interview.
Claudio Gussini and I met on my favorite social media platform: Linkedin, many years ago. Throughout the years he has always been someone who kindly re-shared my posts, commented with intelligent points of view and with whom I extended insights and views on topics related to our jewelry industry with delight. This is an industry where many love to share views and have so much to share, yet when you start to interview them, most of them tend to become very diplomatic and careful. Which, I understand, but it makes me appreciate those who have no fear of opening up and generously share their failure, their struggles, their insights and how long it took them, even more.
Claudi is a senior jewelry designer and his company is called: CadaQui Design. He is also a Rhinoceros Authorized Trainer, an art lover and someone with a serious amount of experience. He seems to have this flair of not taking himself and life too seriously, but at the same time, the passion for nature, life, love, and art, dominates his work and view on life and work. I love his work and I wish there were more people like him that would be so open and willing to share, to instruct, to inspire without big words. His down to earth approach, his laughter about himself and humbleness, tell more about his expertise than boasting about it would. A master in his field who found a balance between passion for his work and personal well-being. Who never stopped doubting and daring to make bold steps. Who took chances with a high probability to fail, but managed to find himself and his real passion, by fighting for it. What an inspiration! Easy to understand that over the years we felt that his family and mine would become great friends if it wasn’t for the distance 😉
Meet Claudio Gussini
Esther: If you had to describe your daily work in one sentence, how would you describe it to someone who isn’t in the jewelry business?
Claudio: I live imagining, and I try to convey my emotions, drawing them in precious shapes that can be worn.
Esther: Now that we know what you do, can you tell us more about how you became the professional you are today? What was your route, who were your mentors, what were the crucial moments that, in hindsight, moved you towards your position today?
Claudio: Well, I had the gift of two hands with which I could easily have done things and a fertile mind, to be able to tell them what to do. My parents, passionate about classical music and art lovers, took me as a child to visit museums and art galleries.
So, with art, I always enjoyed myself, first observing the artists and their works, then experimenting with drawing, modeling clay, and etching. Several artists frequented a gallery, where I went to print my engravings. From all of them, I learned a lot, above all, to be patient and very critical of myself.
As a young man, you are impetuous, and it seems that you know everything, but it is not correct or, at least, not so often … (laughing) Above all, they taught me to rigorously educate my hands, to get from them what I had in mind. For those who know, it is easy to distinguish a form, even if unusual, dictated by a precise logic or thrown down for a moment of laziness or incapacity.
You can also lie to the world, but not to yourself.
Esther: When you were young, you grew up in Italy? What can you tell us about your youth? What were your challenges in your teen years, for example, or what or who inspired you?
Claudio: Yes, I grew up in Trieste, a beautiful city with a vibrant and controversial history, located on the border with Slovenia and not far from Austria. The Middle European air that still is blowing today, so different from that of the rest of the Peninsula, is the one that made me grow.
In adolescence, I lived in ’68, the years of youth protest, of occupied schools. Although, I can’t lie today, saying that, then I was truly aware of what was happening. As an excellent dumb teenager, I was making a mess, I liked girls, and then, there was always the Art, everywhere in my life. I have a powerful memory of my maternal grandfather, a very gruff and equally affectionate fellow, at least in his own way. He was a person who had not had an easy life, raised amid two wars, who had studied while doing a tough job in the shipyard of Trieste.
Intelligent and curious about everything, he was fluent in three other languages besides Italian and had a passion for modeling and already for electronics. With a few pieces of equipment and recycled materials (even then!), he built me great mechanical toys and a small transistor radio when I was a child. Then, as a teenager, with his very personal philosophy of life, he taught me to have a free mind.
First steps into the world of jewelry
Esther: When and why did you make the decision to enter the world of jewelry?
Claudio: Well, as I said before, with art, I always had fun, but the moment came when I was wondering if this passion could also become a job. I knew, from the experiences of others, that the life of the sculptor could be very wretched, before becoming famous enough to survive with art.
I found the right way to do it in goldsmith art because precious materials could have been the vehicle to earn enough to live on. So, in 1977, I attended a course to learn goldsmithing at the Salzburg Academy of Fine Arts in Austria.
Esther: What was, in life, the most challenging thing you had to overcome? And what was it in your work?
Claudio: There have been several epochal changes in my life. You see, Esther, my parents were great art lovers, but they had professions that had nothing to do with art. So, for me to live, I should have had a serious job (like theirs!) They accepted the fact that I had attended the goldsmith course, but seeing it as a hobby, they pushed me to go to work in a bank. It was an environment that I could not love, full of pettiness and lies, but the salary was excellent and made me independent of the family.
I set up a micro-laboratory in my room with minimal equipment and continued to experiment at night. I saved enough and sold my first rings to work colleagues. Then, after 10 years, I had an excellent opportunity and, with the money saved and those of the liquidation, I could open the “Laboratorio GUS.” Obviously, I quit my bank job, and I’ll never forget my parents’ faces, when I told them … they never forgave me! ( laughing)
From pencil to pc
Then, the other big challenge came when, finishing a drawing for a competition, I ruined it by overturning a coffee. I told this sad little story to a friend and he, in response, gave me his old computer, showing me that, with that device, one could also draw. I was a fetishist of paper, pencils, and watercolors … and I never wanted to even consider computers. However, given the lousy adventure, I tried, and, when I discovered 3D, a new passion blossomed.
For a long time, I worked, once again at night, to learn the new rules of the game, until I had the first pieces printed in 3D, fusing them and refining them in my workshop. It was the early 2000’s, and I published the images on my first website. I realized that, by working in this way, I could have made my projects known to a broader audience, and therefore I continued. In 2005 I obtained the qualification to be an instructor of the software I used, and I started working as a freelancer for other companies.
And here I am.
Esther: You left a beautiful tale about your work on LinkedIn to me. ”Emotions are everything”. You translate, with technical ability, huge investments of energy, time and money, emotions daily. How do you keep in touch with that feeling, when the reality every day is mostly about the three things (energy, time, and money)I described above?
Claudio: You see Esther, there’s one thing I didn’t say, in that story … That I’m a LUCKY MAN! First of all, for the gifts, I received at birth, then because I realized that our destiny, we forge it, day by day.
Today I can live on my own, very soberly for the truth, by unsticking the lightness that creativity and emotions require from the problems of energy, money, and time. It is not easy to keep this under control, but the vicissitudes of my 64 years have taught me how to do it, and the awareness of my luck helps me a lot.
Nature is essential
Esther: I need to go to the woods and walk with my dog every single day. I have an intense longing to be in a natural environment daily to deal with ‘’everything,’’ and I get inspired by it. Not just because of the beauty of nature, but my mind is free, and ideas and insights tend to come when the mind is very free. What do you need on a daily or less frequent basis to free your mind? How do you get your ideas, insights, and inspiration?
Claudio: Oh, see how much we look like! Nature in general, but above all the sea, my great MOTHER (curious as in French, the two words sound the same (La Mer and La Mère)) are my great sources of inspiration and give me the necessary tranquility. Then there’s music, everything from classical to electronic house, through progressive rock.
Then inspiration also comes from dreams, especially those with open eyes. (Ha Ha, I’m great!)
And last but not least, there is still Art, the masterpieces that always suggest change and improvement. I love sculpture, and I particularly like the works of #ArnaldoPomodoro and his brother # Giò Pomodoro.
COncerns about the jewelry industry
Esther: You are worried about the state of craftsmanship in your particular field. Is it just your field, or is it something you notice on more levels within the jewelry industry?
Claudio: “Worried,” perhaps, is not the right term. One is concerned when he can intervene directly to resolve what he considers to be a problem. I would rather say that I am troubled by what I have seen accomplished in the world of jewelry over the last 20 years.
While in high jewelry, different brands have made considerable efforts to innovate their classic paradigms, I must say with excellent results, in the mid-to-medium-high jewelry, I noticed a drop in quality and style. Not to mention the lower range, accessible to most, where there is a systematic involution towards total banality. So, it is this spreading of the scissors that leaves me perplexed.
Clearly, a jewel with bold lines, with lots of very precious stones, cannot – and should not – have a cost accessible to everyone. It is all about his aura of mystery and exclusivity, which triggers the desire in those who can afford it and already own almost everything. But why should an ornament of lesser venal value not be able to boast of an accurately dreamed birth, only because the materials of which it is composed are less exclusive and destined to a higher number of people?
Why on earth are those who have less spending power forced to accept to be satisfied with cheap junk?
A beautiful thing happened between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century; the development of the industrial design. Dating from the Arts and Crafts art movement, born in reaction to the industrial revolution in 19th-century England, it determined the development of the applied arts. The artistic-creative process was no longer an end in itself but began being adapted for the realization of everyday objects. The possibilities offered by the new production systems and the progress in the use of materials were fundamental. (see https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disegno_industriale)
Today, with new technologies, we can witness a miracle of equal magnitude.
With the use of 3D in jewelry, the central core lies precisely in the search for forms and technical solutions. Taking advantage only of the time factor, without having to have a warehouse and without any waste of materials, it is possible to bring the design to such an advanced level, that it can give in the end, not only a total calculation of costs and production times, but also rendering images so realistic that they can be used in preventive print campaigns, in which to check through the web tools, the possible satisfaction of a specific part of the public.
Therefore, even if destined for mass, an object can succeed in having its own particular imprint, its intrinsic beauty, the fruit of the passion of those who designed it. Performed even in less expensive materials, it will never be trivial and without dignity.
It takes knowledge, culture, and passion for giving life to something that arouses emotions and that can continue to have charm over the years, beyond momentary fashions. The jewel, as I see it, even in the cases of production in large numbers, always remains very tied to human intervention. Also, when producing thousands of pieces – I know what I’m talking about because I did it – the procedure can only be a craft and, if good results are desired, careful and conscious planning cannot be missed.
But many do not seem to understand and too often, unfortunately, I see 3D being used to save time on handwork, things that were done very well even before. There is an anxiety to chase the market, the numbers of turnover, the consumer, with always new products often born quickly and without a soul. Logically there is gaining for the entrepreneur, but the price you pay is the flattening of the product, in a war played on the savings cents. Among other things, it is evident that, in this war, win those emerging countries where the productive conditions are so much more favorable than in Europe.
I know I’m going to touch a sore point, and I’m even more aware of it, finding myself today in Middle-earth. You see Esther, I am someone who has been a goldsmith/artist for more than 25 years and who, at a certain point, left the goldsmith’s bench for the computer, venturing into the complex world of companies. I sometimes feel embarrassed, among former colleagues goldsmiths who see 3D as the black beast, the one that leads to the extinction of the category and young designers, with just a few hours in the laboratory, convinced that the knowledge of art in the field is a something outdated.
Nothing could be more wrong for both of them. There must be a conscious alliance between the designer and the craftsman executor, who should start from a solid base and evolve excellently, helping and facilitating each other.
It would take good schools for this sector, set up very seriously, where growth takes place harmoniously and continuously, where then, in the end, each according to his aptitudes and abilities, can choose whether to be a good executor craftsman or a capable creator. Or both if one wishes to open his own workshop.
A bit like in music schools, where you can become an orchestra element, or a soloist if you are talented, or even learn to direct the orchestra itself. I know that a grand experiment is at an advanced stage, in the Piedmontese district of excellence, carried out by a prestigious brand, born in Italy but recently passed into French hands, where production has been flanked with learning. I imagine that it will bear fruit, and I sincerely hope so, also considering the significant investment made.
What is certain is that all the proceeds of growth will be the prerogative of the brand itself, as is right. It would take something analogous for our sector in the state sphere … but here I would enter a topic that I don’t even want to touch.
Esther: What does freedom mean to you?
Claudio: It’s what I’m living right now … Having enough time to do the job I love, without worrying too much about subsistence. You know, I told you that I’m a lucky man.
Living on an island
Esther: You moved to the Canary Islands. Can you tell me more about it?
Claudio: Well, it was a bit by chance. With my wife Arianna, in 2015, we decided to take a look, having never seen them before. Moreover, it was an opportunity to visit a dear friend who had just moved here.
We liked Gran Canaria immediately. The residents call it “Small Continent” because, in 60 km. in length and about 50 in width, it really has it all. Gorgeous beaches, mountains up to 1900 meters high, with fantastic pine forests, a rather large capital, very modern and active, with a fascinating history.
To reach a metropolis, Madrid or Barcelona, it takes 3 hours by plane, less than what it takes by train to reach Milan from Trieste. Since I only need my workstation and a fast internet connection to work – and here it really is a wonder – we thought about it a little, and, as soon as we had the chance, in 2016, we moved.
I finally closed my company in Trieste, and I opened one here, the Cadaqui-Design S.L., with whom I do the same job as before, but in a completely different environmental context. First, the colors: the air is immaculate, and they shine alive as if they had just come out of a tempera tube.
Then the social environment: everything is much more relaxed, people still have will and time to talk, live family and friendships, a little like as we were in the ’60s. And finally, there is the Atlantic. I was born and lived on the sea, but the ocean is really “a lot” and bewitched me. As for the money and service topics, I can say that there is a particular convenience, to get good quality and that the Italian bureaucracy, to which I have been subjected for so many years, is now only a bad memory.
I continue to maintain relationships with my customers via the web, which I did even before. I believe that, at least for professions like mine, the “remote-working” will be the future. I don’t want to describe my daily life. It does not seem right to me to arouse envy in people who cannot or do not want to make the choices we made ourselves.
Inspirations for a jewelry designer
Esther: Who does in the jewelry world inspire you most? (
Claudio: It is not easy to say, because it is the whole of this world that attracts and fascinates me. Of course, being lucky enough to know, as you did, an artist like Wallace Chan, I think, would be a fantastic experience. I’d be curious to feel the vibrations that emanate from his creations.
Among the Italian authors, I like Giampiero Bodino, Vhernier, and Scavia very much. I am always very impressed by the perfect execution and cleanliness of the shapes present in the collections of some tremendous French Maisons, Boucheron, Van Cleef et Arpels, Cartier. At the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, I fell in love with Rene Lalique and Philippe Wolfer’s collections.
However, real inspirations come from elsewhere, as I believe I have told you before. I don’t want to be presumptuous, God forbid, but my ideas always come from the distillation of emotions that belong to me. I believe that even a sublime designer, who can boast of never having copied anything in his life, he will always find in Nature, those who have traced those signs before him … that’s all.
Indeed, the observation of the masterpieces that I mentioned earlier gives me the desire, I would almost say the need to do and improve myself more and more.
Esther: Who does inspire you as a human?
Claudio: It might seem trivial or mushy, but… Arianna, my wife. Thanks to her, besides having had great inspirations and made the best objects of my career, I became a better man. At least I hope so … you should ask her.
Core beliefs, core values
Esther: What would you say, are your core beliefs and values in your work and in life?
- Never stop dreaming.
- Aim high, but humbly, because you will always hit the target a little below what you set for yourself.
- Intellectual honesty … I’d like to have it always, but it’s so difficult.
- Feeling of the Family, the couple should be “WE ONE” or at least try.
- Respect for nature, the real one, beyond the fashion slogans.
- Friendships, few but sincere … there is Mastercard for everything else.
Esther: What is your ‘’sogno nel cassetto’’? (your dream for the future)
Claudio: A trip around the world on a comfortable sailboat. (With a good skipper, of course)
Esther: How do you see your future in say; the next five years?
Claudio: Difficult question … How does a 64-year-old man with the head of a 14 teenager to predict his future? Apart from jokes, I’m working on a collection, quite complicated, including 5 or 6 lines and a lot of pieces. It’s a thing of mine, inspired by my living here. I would like to see it born next year and have the time and strength to carry it out and market it.
Esther: What would you like to share with the younger professional generation? What do you think is essential for them to know?
Claudio: I would like to tell them to pursue their dreams tenaciously, and never give up. At the same time, being very hard and sincere with themselves, because bluffing in front of the mirror is never a good deal. To study, to study a lot and not just for school, but for themselves. Culture is essential, they must be hungry for culture. To learn at least two other languages, in addition to what they already know and to experiment with them traveling, as much as possible, in any way.
To always check the information they receive and not build their own personality on social networks: having many Likes on Facebook is like being rich in Monopoly. To live freely, to be young because you are only once, but with a minimum of judgment. To experience their creative vein and to work, work, work.
For those wishing to pursue a career as a goldsmith, and may have those who are able to support them financially, ” to pay” to be able to do an internship in an excellent goldsmith workshop, as people once usually did, not being afraid to start at the entry-level, for at least two or three years.
Then, eventually, to go for a postgraduate course of the beautiful ones who have made their fame. ( We understood each other – winking – )
In one word:
- Spain – Canary Islands, at the moment.
favorite jewelry brand
Best kept secret in your hometown(such as a boutique, beautiful spot, restaurant.
There is a wonderful place, nearly Trieste, my hometown, a valley set in the side of the Karstic Plateau. It’s called is Val Rosandra, the name taken from the creek that crosses it. Its peculiarity is to have very steep rock walls, where climbing enthusiasts can challenge at difficulties which, otherwise, they should go and find on the peaks of the Dolomites and this all, at a short distance from the Adriatic Sea.
Apart from this, the valley floor is a pleasant place to walk in the green and stop at a friendly tavern to eat something. You can also reach this valley by bike or on foot, along the bike path that connects it to the city center.
A little trip not to be missed, for those who go to visit those places.
- to imagine, to create, to love
- “ Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ?” by Philip K. Dick.
(this novel inspired the famous film Blade Runner by Ridley Scott)
- Matrix (the trilogy)
Connect with claudio Gussini;
Currently, I don’t have a website, because I have to renew it, and I find it challenging to find the time to do it.
The easiest way to contact me is my social media pages:
Claudio about Esther and bizzita:
”I got in touch with Esther, via LinkedIn, in November 2010, so exactly nine years ago. I was immediately struck by the bright and sincere style of her articles, so we often interacted, in this virtual way, exchanging opinions and, sometimes, compliments. Speaking of jewelry cleanly and straightforwardly is not at all easy. Esther does it very naturally on her blog, Bizzita.com, and her articles are never trivial and cloying, as often happens in paid editorials at glossy magazines.
She manages to find, almost magically, how to involve the passionate reader in the subject, often finding curious and even amusing cues. I believe it certainly depends on her excellent preparation, but also on his sensitive and frank soul.
That’s why it’s nice to read what you write … THANK YOU SO MUCH, Esther.
( THANK YOU CLAUDIO! , you left a big smile on my face! :-), Esther)