Siegfried De Buck : Jewellery designer and silversmith
Siegfried De Buck
Jewellery designer and silversmith
MGB, October 12, 2009
Siegfried De Buck turned sixty in August 2009. In honour of the occasion, Design museum Gent is presenting an overview of his work.

“In the year 2009, Siegfried De Buck, designer of jewellery and utensils, is one of the few to separate design from the speed and economic mayhem”, says Koen van Synghel at the award ceremony of the “Henry Van De Velde Career Award” in the spring of 2009.

Fairly early on, it was evident that Siegfried De Buck (born 1949) would choose an artistic vocation. At the age of 12 he already showed an interest in the arts. The fact that he eventually would become a jewellery designer was more a confluence of circumstances. His father sent him to the abbey school in Maredsous. In 1964 he left for the École des Métiers d’Arts, IATA, in order to take the goldsmith training. The school promoted the departure from decoration as well as the sense of construction.


Siegfried De Buck/Necklace, 2002_Didier Verriest.
Siegfried De Buck/Necklace, 2002_Didier Verriest.


Even though the training focused on silversmithing, the idea grew to further enhance his jewellery design, and in 1968 Siegfried De Buck took to the Académie des Beaux Arts, Strasbourg (France). In 1971 Siegfried De Buck set up shop as a self-employed designer in Ghent along with his wife Hermine De Groeve and their three children Isolde, Helmut and Pearl. By his own, he experimented with unconventional techniques and materials. The sound technical training he had taken in Maredsous was of use to him in the refinement and artistic elaboration. He did not lose himself in decorative elements, but limited himself to the essence. Powerful jewellery designs were created with a clear and personal imagery.

Siegfried De Buck/Ring Babel.
Siegfried De Buck/Ring Babel.


In the middle of the 1970s Siegfried De Buck developed an interest in materials other than precious metals. In these jewellery items, the design was supported by the choice of materials. At the beginning of the 80s he continued his experiments with new materials, and incorporated black rubber, elephant hair, Plexiglas, and steel. These jewels showed an enormous mastery of various techniques. Incidentally, high-grade finishing is characteristic of his entire oeuvre. In 1982 during Lineart, he made an impression by his Jewellery Pavilion, a construction in the shape of one of his rings, namely the “Pavilion” ring made from rubber and gold. In the pavilion he displayed nine jewels and their holograms. He also presented a slide show of that work. In 1985 Siegfried De Buck boldly set about creating a sculpture for which one of his pendants served as the basis, thus creating Pendant X30 which was purchased by the Ministry of Culture.

Siegfried De Buck/Ring Twin Peaks, 2009_Didier Verriest
Siegfried De Buck/Ring Twin Peaks, 2009_Didier Verriest


Precious steel captured his imagination into the 1990s, and he loved to combine this material with gold. It takes a great amount of skill to achieve the right shape, the optimal contrast and the desired finish, not to mention he is creating unique pieces time and again. For the remarkable “Spine series” he reduced the use of materials to strictly gold. The body served as a source of inspiration in a subtle way. Rounded shells set up to form sensual and elegant creations are typical of these designs. One of the rings from this series was purchased by the Schmuck museum in Phorzheim (Germany).

Siegfried De Buck/Ring and Necklace, 1981_Johan Schutte
Siegfried De Buck/Ring and Necklace, 1981_Johan Schutte


And Siegfried De Buck never ceases to capture the imagination. Even at the onset of the 21st century, each of his designs is a vessel for a story. In order to achieve this he makes use of his vast cultural baggage. The content is translated into a shape. The formal in itself is of no interest to him.

Siegfried De Buck/Cane Wert-Zeichen, 2007_Koen Blanckaert.
Siegfried De Buck/Cane Wert-Zeichen, 2007_Koen Blanckaert.


In 1990 Siegfried De Buck took to silversmithing once more. This desire grew from the reaction to the article “Requiem for Belgian Silver” which had been published in 1988 in the magazine ‘Belgian Creative craftsmanship’. A silversmith by training, he experienced silver to be a highly malleable material. One could solder it, hammer it, press it, ideal for creating corpus work. Starting with the elegant and functional coffee set with its streamlined shape for entry in Interior 90 with the VIZO, he has an endless stream of designs to his name: from a praline theatre, a praline tower, a “HIGH SPEED RAIL PITCHER”, “Tools for table”, “A princely breakfast for two”, a series of walking canes, the “Regatta” trophy for the Ghent rowing club, to a perfume burner called “Warmed desire”. In short, too many to list.

Siegfried De Buck/Table for Tools_Katrien van Hulle, 1998_Lieven Herreman
Siegfried De Buck/Table for Tools_Katrien van Hulle, 1998_Lieven Herreman


At the occasion of the “Transit” exhibition in Brussels in 2001, the short film “The eye of the walking cane” was created, directed by Siegfried and in collaboration with cinematographer Lou Demeyere. At the beginning of 2009, a six-metre high bronze statue “The tree of rings” was erected. As one of the pioneers of contemporary goldsmithing in Belgium, Siegfried De Buck is aware of the altered social position of the jewellery designer-goldsmith, who is – besides a designer – primarily a contemporary artist. His ideas on the matter – from object design to conceptual art – and his professional knowledge as a jewellery artist and goldsmith are passed on to his students as well as during numerous guest lectures both in Belgium and abroad.

Siegfried De Buck/Teapot TGV (unique piece), 1998_Koen Blanckaert.
Siegfried De Buck/Teapot TGV (unique piece), 1998_Koen Blanckaert.


It is not always clear how a concept comes to be, not even to the designer himself. The thing that matters is that it does come to be. Each of the objects is not only a brainchild of his, but is also created with tremendous love and in a highly professional and perfectionist manner.

“The way in which I work is fairly chaotic, I pick up things everywhere, look for the essence and store it in my brain until needed”, says Siegfried De Buck.

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