Cartier Proves That Style is Forever

Cartier Proves That Style is Forever


Cartier Director of Image, Style, and Heritage Pierre Rainero waxes lyrical about his more than 30 years of history with the brand


Cartier Director of Image, Style, and Heritage Pierre Rainero

When it comes to timepieces, fine or otherwise, style is often not part of the package…at least not style as defined here by the Oxford dictionary, which goes something like this: a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed. Of course, if one looks at Mirriam-Webster, one finds something a little more useful to the idea of style and watchmaking: a distinctive quality, form, or type of something. That one is succinct and perhaps best suited when it comes to introducing a man for whom style is his entire job…well, a part of it at least.

Helpfully, Pierre Rainero, Director of Image, Style and Heritage at Cartier, has published his own definition of style, which I have referenced on more than one occasion. It will now come home to roost, which I find most gratifying. “Style is the incarnation of a philosophy that conveys complex things in a simple way. It has its own sensibility, and thus becomes a way of anticipating, experiencing, and communicating feelings and emotions – style, perhaps, is simply the expression of a vision.” Rainero wrote that in his chapter in the Flamarion hardcover Cartier: The Power of Style (2010).

Combining image and heritage with style, and you might think that Rainero is the de facto creative or artistic director, but that is not the case. No such role exists at Cartier, although his title originally was Communication and Artistic Director back in 1999. In fact, Rainero has held a number of roles at Cartier since 1984, when he first joined. It was a time of change at the storied jewellery and watch firm, and Rainero has had a front seat alongside the great names of that time…Perrin, Cologni, Fornas… We sat down with Rainero to hear his story at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2023.


You have a rather impressive title, which you have held since 2003. Tell us about it?

All the new Collection Prive models this year


Well, every day is different of course, because in fact I have many different things I’m involved in… The central responsibility, of course, and that explains all the other ones (as you will see), is my involvement in the creative process. So that’s effectively the style part of my title.

In 1998, Alain Dominique Perrin was President of Cartier and he had that role (as artistic director) without having the title – he was president, so he could do everything. In 1999, when he was leaving to become president of Richemont, he told me ‘you will be the artistic director.’

So, for a while I had the Communication and Artistic Director title, and very quickly I realized that it was not exactly what I was doing. For two reasons. First, I realized immediately that there are many people who are responsible in the creative process; in the making-of process of the artistic dimension of each of our objects. There is basically a synergy of talents. Probably I could already have known this (before taking on the role)!


Anyway, each of these creatives has an influence on the artistic part; you know that in jewellery, it is even more obvious than in watches.


So you knew that no one person could do the job?

(Right) Dial, handset and surprising movement of the Tank Americaine
(Left) The hands being attached to the dial of the Tank Americaine


It is not one person who could be entitled to (the entire creative dimension) because it is not true. The second reason (that my job was not exactly what my title said it was) was, in a way, really to have and share a vision of what a Cartier object should be today, and of course, in the near future, because we work some years in advance, depending on the category of items.


I’m not the creative because the creative part is on the side of the designers as it has always been since the time of Louis Cartier himself, and Jeanne Toussaint [the legendary fashion and jewellery designer]. Louis Cartier himself used to call them (the designers) the inventors.


Tell us about your portfolio as it is today, and what a typical day looks like for you?

So my role (today) is to discuss with the creatives (the inventors), at all stages, about which direction Cartier should go towards. (Together, we try to identify) what makes Cartier so different, with a historical approach (for example), and try to explain why the objects were like they were at that time. What was the philosophy behind those objects and how can or does this philosophy apply today. My interaction with the creatives is at all stages, even before the design brief.

Day by day, I have many questions arriving on my desk. Maybe I have a design head, the head of a studio, saying we are thinking of doing something, and what do you think about it. Or maybe they have a prototype to show me. These are the unscheduled meetings, but of course there are plenty of scheduled ones!


And by the way, the style part of my title includes my involvement in everything that is created at Cartier, like the architecture of the stores for instance. I’m also involved the same way with the architects and interior designers…I am the link between image and style because effectively the style of the store is a part of image-building, for example. As a consequence, I am also in charge of the cultural and artistic aspects of Cartier. This means all Cartier’s links with external institutions or schools all over the world. You know, so I travel a lot [before Watches and Wonders Geneva 2023, Rainero was in Mexico City for a Cartier exhibition and he went to Hong Kong the week after the fair for another exhibition scheduled to open there]. My work is not only with the curators (of the exhibitions) but also the backroom part, including contract negotiations and this sort of thing. There is also a permanent component to this because we are always in contact with some institutions, such as the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum and the Metropolitan in New York, because they have Cartier pieces in their (respective) collections (and may acquire historical pieces now or in future).


Why is Cartier’s history so powerful?

Various Tanks


The history of Cartier and the production of Cartier both are so rich because (among other things) since the first years of the 20th century, we became the first real (watch and jewellery Maison) in the world. Meaning in terms of innovation (by virtue of being first), yes, but also just in terms of production. We became sort of an object of curiosity for the people of the whole world. A century ago, Cartier was so big that all the other jewellers were looking at it and calling it the ‘Firm’ because it was already something incredible. We had production already in London and New York so, as I used to say, it was really possible for a young guy to have an international career at Cartier in the early 20th century. It was really not so far from an international company of today. We were sending people to Hong Kong, to Tehran, to South America…we have all the reports of those people (the commercial reports).


It is incredible when you think of it, so that’s why there’s a richness in terms of production, and also different categories of products because Carter is so unique in this way…and also of having that watchmaking part as equal to the jewellery part. We also greatly improved the making of objects of many different kinds, and it makes Cartier one of the main actors in the decorative arts in the applied arts segment. There is also a human dimension to this story, and I’m not referring only to the Cartier family (in those early days) because very, very quickly the family needed a lot of people to manage the company.


What sorts of people are you referring to, and are you ever surprised by what you yourself learn about the brand?

Bagnoire watch

So they are less known to the outside world but we at Cartier know them. I’m talking about the directors for London and for New York, you know the succession of them (and the significant things they did for Cartier)… For instance, the help we gave to Charles de Gaulle during World War II was decided by the director, not by the Cartier family. This was just one of many examples, including Jeanne Toussaint [who was not a member of the Cartier family, but was appointed Director of Fine Jewellery by Louis Cartier in 1933; she remained with the firm until 1970, after the Cartier family had sold the business].


So you realise the power of those people…the artisans; it is an incredible number of people over the years. It is a human adventure, the story of Cartier, you know, and that makes it so rich. This also makes it difficult to apprehend everything about Cartier because as a commercial entity, what we keep in our archives is mainly linked to how the company works and the production; that’s already very important because it is the link with the clients. But you know, of all the dimensions of decisions taken to open a store or a market, we only keep what we have a legal obligation to keep. The information on personal interactions (and the human story of the people who worked at Cartier), we have almost nothing, or perhaps we have only a few things. So that’s why I see there are many, many things still to discover…including the reason why the name Ronde was given to this Santos model [a vintage watch worn by a Cartier employee who sat in on the interview], which is actually not round at all…I never received an answer to my question when I first joined in 1984, and I still don’t know!


Moving to watches and jewellery, how important is the feel of the pieces versus how they look?

In jewellery, ergonomics is key, and in fact our vision in terms of watchmaking and jewellery is linked (by this). It is a specific skill in jewellery (or to jewellery) in considering how the object will wear… it is not like making little sculptures, which is something that might come to mind (as being analogous). Jewellery is worn, and worn mainly by women, and also always in motion, which has enormous consequences for how the jewellers conceive objects. This culture (of creativity) from jewellery is also very important for watchmaking (because watches are also worn). So if we have a specific (identity) through our creations in watchmaking, it is because we were a jeweller before being a watchmaker.

I think being a jeweller first also gave us (a degree of) freedom in a way and that also makes it totally obvious when you think of the (initial) decision to go on shapes. In fact, we became the designer of shapes in terms of watchmaking, but there is a total logic there because we were not originally a provider of movements and we were not on the technical side; we were a creator of beautiful objects. For us, a watch was a beautiful object or had to be a beautiful object, and that is our vision and explains everything we do, till today I think.


What is a Cartier watch design that challenged you?

The Tank Normale in yellow gold with new distinctive bracelet

Well, the Ballon Bleu was for me one of the most interesting exercises I had to face in terms of creativity because we wanted a round watch, but typically Cartier, so it is a contradiction in terms. Because, you know, we were born doing all shapes but round (and thus known for our range of various shapes, as I said). Thus for Ballon Bleu, we said let’s think of this design as if nothing is impossible; impossible is not French!

So, we went forward and the idea was to create something like a pebble; the brilliant idea was to get rid of the (traditional) crown) by including it within the circular shape of the case (instead of protruding as it normally does) in a space that was like a bubble. Obviously, it is not a regular round watch because it is so bizarre to not have the crown present as usual. But the design logic is there, and the ergonomic presence of the watch, in terms of how soft it feels, is there. One thing I recall perfectly about this model is the design of the bracelet, which I thought should be elegant and serviceable, not adding something else in terms of creativity, or another point of interest.


How much of Cartier’s design philosophy, as far as watches go, can be tied back to 1904?

Stylised visual of the gem-set Tank Americaine in action

I think when you analyze the creations, the different creations in terms of watchmaking from 1904, the original design of the Santos (from the first piece designed in 1904, for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont and then the production models in 1911) until (the designs of) 1917, and the 1920s…it is very, very interesting because you have that idea to design for the first time an object that contains a watch designed specifically to be worn on the wrist (as a tool).

That was brilliant because before that, a man could only wear a pocket watch linked with a strap on his wrist. The basis of the design for the watch Santos-Dumont would use was a square shape with rounded corners because we had pocket watches in this style. But, if we create an object, it has to have aesthetical validity; the Santos-Dumont of 1904 was valid as an object, but for Louis Cartier and his team it was not corresponding to the purest shape possible to achieve the objective (of being a great wristwatch). So we followed up with the Tonneau watch just two years (1906) later, which was bigger. That is why it was curved, because it had to follow the curve of a wrist. If it was smaller, it could be flat, so in 1912, we came up with the Tortue, which is the flat version.

Five years later, in 1917, it was the (now-famous) two parallel lines (that characterised the Tank). There is nothing simpler than two parallel lines that link up (the Tank Normale this year harks back to this original Tank). In 1922, Louis Cartier himself asked to get rid of that metal between the lugs, and to just have the two parallel lines and no metal (or as little metal showing as possible). So, in our archives, this Tank is suddenly called Tank Louis Cartier. Louis Cartier personally asked to do that and to produce that model, you know, and it was not often like this, where he interfered in the design process. So if that watch bears that name, it is because his will to modify it was very strong. The sense of purity here is really something very important, not only for Louis Cartier but for many people of this time. The two first decades of the 20th century, that’s where many revolutions happened in terms of design, art in general and many other areas, and Louis Cartier is part of this new era.

This article was first published on WOW Autumn Issue #70

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Here’s What Happened at the Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter Grand Opening Party

Here’s What Happened at the Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter Grand Opening Party​


Jim Thompson makes moves to evolve into an all-encompassing lifestyle brand from Thailand beyond its existing reputation for beautiful silks.


Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter Grand Opening

It was all smiles as celebrities, models, musicians and entrepreneurs descended to the heart of Bangkok to celebrate the launch of the Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter in Thailand. In a dazzling display of cultural fusion and modern flair, the grand opening was graced by celebrities and punctuated by a fashion showcase of unrivalled creativity, celebrating the new “Beyond Silk” ethos. This destination is now poised to draw visitors from across the globe, setting a new standard for flair and ingenuity in the heart of Thailand.

The spectacular opening saw the attendance of several renowned Thai celebrities, including Pruk “Zee” Panich, Chawarin “Nunew” Perdpiriyawong, Thitiya “Baipor” Jirapornsilp, Jumpol “Off” Adulkittiporn, Atthaphan “Gun” Phunsawat and Vasin “Ko” Assawanarunat. Also among the guests were top management from Central Group, King Power, One Bangkok and Siam Piwat. However, it was the fashion show that formed the centrepiece of the event.


42 captivating looks were unveiled, each establishing a new benchmark for sartorial creativity and sophistication. The Jim Thompson collection showcased a versatile range, bridging the gap between relaxed beachwear and the sophistication of everyday wear for work or travel.


Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter Grand Opening

The highlight was the dramatic reveal of the last look – “Look 42” – a testament to the enduring innovation, artistry, and heritage that Jim Thompson is celebrated for. The show’s pinnacle look paid homage to regal sophistication with the Ikat Silk/Metallic Jacquard Gown, inspired by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s iconic Thai silk gown. The showstopper gown was a masterful rendition of Jim Thompson’s exquisite metallic and golden silk fabrics, offering a modern take on Thai tradition for the discerning aesthete. Accompanying the fashion show was an artful selection of songs which chronicled the company’s journey since the 1950s — each emblematic of its era, deeply connected to key moments in the brand’s history and to its founder, Mr. Thompson. 

Read More: Jim Thompson Solidifies Brand Expansion Plans into Asia With Bangkok Grand Opening


Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter Grand Opening Fashion Show

Frank Cancelloni, Group CEO at Jim Thompson, reflected on the event’s success, stating, “The grand opening of the Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter was a celebration of our heritage and a declaration of our future. It represents a pivotal moment as we embark on our mission to become Asia’s first iconic global lifestyle brand. We are proud to showcase Thailand’s rich cultural tapestry to the world through our diverse offerings.

Read More: Jim Thompson Debuts the Jim Thompson Heritage Quarte

Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter Grand Opening

Culinary artistry was at the forefront with a menu designed by the executive chef of Jim Thompson, A Thai Restaurant offering an array of signature dishes. The O.S.S. Bar showcased its celebrated mixologists with meticulously crafted drinks. These unique epicurean experiences not only showcased the brand’s unwavering dedication to delivering exquisite dining experience but also set the stage for an unforgettable after party held at The Moonlight Hall, featuring a line-up of DJs and the admired Thai band – Nisatiwa.




Read More: Binance Charity Foundation Supports the inaugural Jim Thompson Elephant NFTs in Celebration of World Elephant Day on August 12



This was instrumental as the culinary landscape at Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter promises to become a food connoisseur’s paradise. Jim Thompson, A Thai Restaurant, has undergone a vibrant transformation, aiming to become a cornerstone of modern Thai cuisine with its creative menu offering an inventive twist to classic flavours through an enticing à la carte menu.

Read More: Binance NFT celebrates Elephant Day with inaugural Jim Thompson NFTs

Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter Grand Opening

This new lifestyle quarter provides a dynamic space where history, art, culture, cuisine and retail experience converge, reflecting Jim Thompson’s vision of crafting a global destination that celebrates the essence of Thai heritage and modernity.



The success of Jim Thompson Heritage Quarter’s grand opening has set the stage for the brand to continue its evolution as a leader in the global lifestyle sector with this new venture as a vibrant lifestyle destination, drawing both international and domestic tourists to the heart of Thailand. 

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Gioele Amaro Ushers in the New Era of Contemporary Art

Gioele Amaro Ushers in the New Era of Contemporary Art


With a background in architecture and a fascination for vivid surfaces, this “digital painter” has mastered the art of distortion.

Image courtesy of HdM GALLERY and Gioele AmaroImage courtesy of HdM GALLERY and Gioele Amaro

Italian-born Gioele Amaro is a renowned contemporary artist who has successfully melded different mediums of art to deliver his one-of-a-kind abstract pieces. Taking inspiration from his love of Paris while keeping his Italian roots in mind, the 37-year-old has successfully redefined the concept of “painting” with his merging of physical subjects with the virtual world. Amaro’s artwork often explores the complexity of forms and shapes while showcasing his mastery of colour theory. Incorporating the use of rich materials and innovative surfaces, this self-described “digital painter” aims to emphasise the distortion of reality with his work. With a portfolio of work that includes numerous solo and group exhibitions in Europe and China, Gioele speaks to LUXUO on his artistic journey, what inspires him and how art is shaped by digital innovation.


Image courtesy of HdM GALLERY and Gioele Amaro

Image courtesy of Valentino


An architect by training, you have worked with Jean Nouvel, a revered and multi-award-winning French architect for three years before turning to digital painting. Tell us how this creative journey began.

Every single aspect of the architectural process is almost always digital, so moving from handmade sketches or paintings to digital ones was a smooth and gradual move. Architecture was the best way for the emancipation of the digital world without any remaining doubt.


Image courtesy of HdM GALLERY and Gioele AmaroImage courtesy of HdM GALLERY and Gioele Amaro
Gioele Amaro


Ink and varnish on canvas 2023
Contact HdM GALLERY for more information


Clue us in on your close collaboration with Italian artist and filmmaker Francesco Vezzoli.

I always admired the way he was able to be conceptual, figurative, nostalgic, and empathic at the same time. Some of the processes that bring the works of Francesco to their final results were really inspiring because you can feel this love and passion for the development of a concept and how to face it.

As an Italian who fell in love with Paris, what artistic qualities do you find in Paris?

Like all the big cultural cities in the world, it allows you to be who you want to be and follow your dream with a very big chance to fulfill it if you give it your all. Things happen in Paris because there is a genuine creative energy that is neverending.


Image courtesy of HdM GALLERY and Gioele Amaro 
Image courtesy of Valentino

I heard that you recently had a collaboration with Valentino, and your artwork was on a billboard at Avenue de L’Opéra. What was that collaboration like?

I only had a positive experience with the team. I am always fascinated by how people who work for a large brand and have such a personal and precise idea of what they like, give you unconditional freedom to express your vision completely free from schemes and expectations. From this, you realise how they believe in the power of creativity and expression even before commercial rules. The real gift for an artist is to feel safe to experiment without any kind of limitation.

Image courtesy of Valentino


You have rapidly evolved from traditional media such as painting, photography, and drawings to computers, graphic tablets, and digital brushes. This is the epitome of a versatile digital artist, right?

Every real artist follows his own intuition related to his own historical period and context. I feel I am going in the right direction if I try a new trajectory not yet completely known. For me, this is only a way that represent my values and my beliefs other visions need a different approach. The quality is not only in the medium you express yourself in but in what you want to say and why. 


What is your first approach to your work and how would you describe your practice?

It is a never-ending process that can start when you are busy doing other things or when you are waiting for your train the idea is the most exciting thing. Then comes the realisation and the joy of seeing your intuition taking a form or collapsing and having to face the reality of the situation. Sometimes you see the potential of some ideas only while you are in the midst of making them.

Where does the inspiration for your work come from?

I will never find an answer to this question. Inspiration for me is not something related to the context or the situation, it is more a state of mind open to suggestions, dreams, to visions, and exciting thoughts that could happen in a negative or positive situation. Of course, movies, books, the virtual and reality are the proverbial “churches” and “factories” for suggestions.

What emotions do you hope to evoke in the viewers when they look at your art?

I don’t like to think about it because it would make the process be influenced or distracted by the viewer’s judgment but it is often unconsciously oriented to the desire of giving a new key to see things. Disorientating is rewarding.


In your case, is creating a new painting a solitary process?

I need to give time and space for the new idea to grow in my head and be powered by emotions and feelings that could also be calming from their external identity.

The six words that describe best your art?

Coloured tiles that bare the soul.

You mentioned several times that you wish to explore the infinite possibilities of digital innovation. Are there still some limitations that you encounter on a daily basis?

Breathing is literally “oxidising” your body. Stairs are remainders that we cannot fly. The limit is both a challenge and a satisfaction, like going to a new level in Super Mario Bros.

What should art lovers and collectors expect from you at ART SG 2024 at the HdM Art Gallery booth?

Fairs really change the way people approach and access contemporary art. Thousands of people discover your works even if surrounded by billions of different approaches and sensibilities. Being present in a crowded place is the first step to perceiving people’s feelings and about your work, be it in a positive or negative way. It is always important to understand what you are doing. I discovered a lot about myself listening to people’s thoughts, being self-centered is often an easy trap for an artist I don’t pretend to create feelings or emotions but I will love for some in the other way. Originality and talent are not something that we should look for but mostly the way the work of an artist could fit and investigate with our fears and desires to create a pointing start for fertile reflections.

 Any artist who has inspired you on the contemporary art scene lately?

This may be a little taboo because for some, I like their personality, some the technique, others the form, and giving a list may associate them to me but for the wrong reasons. I usually like it when there’s a sense of humour and irony inside a piece and I like understated works.


Image courtesy of HdM GALLERY and Gioele Amaro


As an artist, what is your take on the contemporary art system?

I think the world and people are moving too fast now to have a unique static point of view. Opinions and facts are changing daily, the difference is the ability to anticipate the future. NFTs, fairs, digital art, numbers, scandals, tastes, politics, beauty, AI; the elements are too unstable to make a clear point. I like the idea that an “unknown” artist can be discovered easily with Instagram and have a platform to express themselves even without the support of a gallery.

What is the role that an artist plays in the society?

Underline hypotheses.

What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?

The very long interviews.

To find Gioele Amaro on Instagram, click here: @gioeleamaro
HdM gallery contact details:
IG for the gallery: @hdm_gallery
Booth number at ART SG: FC30
Address of the fair: Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956

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