Building Blocks

As the old adage goes, one man's trash is another's treasure.

Bracelets from the Restoration Rocks collection.

As the old adage goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Just check out the new jewelry collection from the Guggenheim Museum, called Restoration Rocks, being presented Wednesday at a media reception. It’s made out of concrete salvaged from the institution’s renovation — a three-year project ending next month — which has revamped everything from the exterior facade to the bathrooms and elevators. The line is the kickoff project to commemorate the Guggenheim’s 50th anniversary next year.

This story first appeared in the July 21, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Indeed, what better way to celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic spiraling structure than with a lineup of scaled-down sculptural shapes? The collection was designed in collaboration with California jeweler Cara Tilker, who was given 300 pounds of concrete from the building’s exterior renovations for the project. Tilker, known for her C.linea line that encases flotsam in plastic, has applied the same technique here, embedding each fragment in a polyurethane resin mold and sanding it down to create a slightly Space Age-looking “gemstone.” The resulting bauble is then set in sterling silver — or, by commission, in 14-karat gold — for an eightpiece lineup of bracelets, rings, cuffs and necklaces. Prices for Restoration Rocks, sold exclusively in the museum boutique and at its online store, start at $175 and go up to $4,350.

“I took inspiration from the space itself,” said Tilker. “I walked through the museum, took notes and did drawings. My ring takes the shape of the skyward rotunda. I designed a bracelet around the fountain downstairs, which has an eye shape to it.” It goes without saying that Tilker also made ample use of the building’s spiral motifs.

This isn’t the first time Tilker has been involved with Lloyd Wright’s work. In 2002 she created similar pieces using concrete from the architect’s famous Fallingwater home outside of Pittsburgh during its restoration. And the Guggenheim certainly isn’t the last of her renovation trash-turned-treasure projects. She has already been contacted by a number of other organizations, including Boston’s Trinity Church, looking for a little restoration memorabilia.