Thursday morning we had the chance to visit Alchimia, the best contemporary jewellery school in Florence (might I say the world as well, based on the accomplishments of students and faculty both). I mean you might think I’m exaggerating, but the unis history is so packed even though it opened its doors in 1998.
Located in the San Frediano district, right next to Piazza del Carmine, the university is just beautiful. You walk in and you’re right in the middle of the Bachelor students workstations. And even though the pandemic has forced some students back home, and a for those that stayed a rotation of shifts, everyone still looked pretty busy. Might I say that I saw some pretty rad stuff. Right past the workstations there’s a couple classrooms for theory classes, and a courtyard to die for, it’s amazing. That’s where we sat down and chatted while enjoying a nice Italian coffee.
As I said at the beginning the school opened in 1998, with a pretty tight budget, but a lot of passion. So, much that the founders painted the walls themselves, as Co-founder Lucia Massei reminds us. This passion was also taken into consideration by Giampaolo Babetto – for those of you that don’t know the name he’s the epitome of Italian contemporary jewellery – and decided to come and teach at the school, giving them the exposure they needed at the time.
As years went by, the school became one of the most important in the world, as they expanded their courses to a 2 year BFA, a 2 year MFA, two different one year intensive programs (Jewellery Training Foundation and Advanced Jewellery Training) that are each a part of the Bachelor degree, a variety of workshops, and tailor-made jewellery making classes. With a roster of teachers that are professionals in the field of contemporary jewellery and alumni that win shows all over the world.
But why is Alchimia better than the rest? What makes this contemporary jewellery school in Florence so worth talking about?
The will to challenge the status quo of their field
“To encourage this, Alchimia employs an approach towards contemporary jewelry that is unique in Italy, providing an education that combines technical know-how with intellectual reflection, aiming to subvert the conventions of artistic craftsmanship in Italy”
That’s right out of the Alchimia brochure, but also as we talked to the faculty, you could see how important it was to them, not only to break up the status quo but the nurturing and preparing their students to the competitive world of contemporary jewelry.
Many of their students can be found working on solo projects around the world, many open up their own schools after seeing the passion that was put into the teaching process, others, after they finish their degrees, are able to win competitions that are recognized all over the world. One of their students was able to win a competition in China against 600 other jewelers, and that must feel amazing, not just for said student, but also for the faculty.
They are also so renowned in the field, that for their 10th anniversary the Museum of Hanau offered them a space to have a show, and celebrate. Even-though the school decided to celebrate their 10-year accomplishment in Florence. A way to celebrate the Florence jewelry tradition.
Now, that you’ve read only some of the credentials, cause there are more, and I’ve got to say I might find myself having to talk about those in another post, as it’s a very interesting topic. Especially taking into account that the school is a Florentine gem (excuse the pun), but also they have little-to-none state funding. I’m gonna give you some technical aspects of how the school works.
All of the courses at Alchimia are in English, so if you are an international student, and want to study contemporary jewelry in Florence, know that this is the place for you. Plus the degrees they offer are recognized worldwide, so if you want to go back home and keep studying in this field, know that it’s a possibility.
Also, another thing to know about Alchimia is that there are two separate laboratories to work in. One is for the Bachelor’s degree, with the terrace, the courtyard, the classes, so the area I talked about at the beginning of this article. Another one is the Masters degree lab. Don’t worry it isn’t super far, it’s just two streets down. Here is where all the Masters students work on their projects and have the freedom to go in and out as they please. As Lucia Massei was telling us, this is to teach the students the reality of contemporary jewelry, giving them a first look at how it is to work in your own studio. Plus I have to say that even here they’re a cute little courtyard in which the students can enjoy some time to relax once they’ve worked hard enough.
All I can say now is that the school has very loving teachers, a great space for students to work in, and leaves the students with all they need to know. Now, personally, I’m hoping that this whole pandemic situation is going to disappear, cause they said that once they can organize aperitivos and shows, we’ve got an invite. I really want to have a drink on that terrace and see the accomplishments of their students.