Cartier recently invited Italian designer Ettore Sottsass to comb through the 1,200 watches, clocks, pens, bracelets, rings, and necklaces in its corporate collection and select items that appealed to him. The 209 pieces that he chose constitute Cartier Design Viewed by Ettore Sottsass, an exhibit that opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on October 31 and will remain on display through March 27, 2005.
“My choices were made on the basis of colors and the quality of the design,” Sottsass explains. “I care nothing for the social importance of pieces or their material value.” Nonetheless, several items that caught his eye once belonged to notable owners, including this platinum, diamond, and rock crystal bracelet (above) from 1930 that was worn by Gloria Swanson. This 1914 tiara (right), which places diamonds, rubies, and platinum against a backdrop of blackened steel, makes powerful use of color. But perhaps the most clever design is represented by the crocodile necklace from 1975, which features 1,023 fancy yellow diamonds and 1,060 emeralds. The golden reptiles can be decoupled and worn individually as clip-brooches.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston