The Story of Horta

In the heart of all Sassi Fine Jewellery’s creations lies a deep appreciation for history, art, and architecture. Our newest collection, Horta, draws inspiration from the artistic richness of late 19th-century Brussels. Here, Victor Horta (1861-1947), one of the pioneering architects of the Art Nouveau movement, crafted a new architectural language. It was a complete design philosophy and aesthetics that encompassed not only architecture but interior design, furniture, wallpaper and fabrics. His designs transcended traditional construction, encompassing every detail from door knobs to furniture, and the decoration of walls, ceilings, and floors. Horta’s buildings were total concepts where every element was part of a harmonious whole, reflecting the organic lines and natural forms characteristic of Art Nouveau.

Victor Horta transformed architecture into a symphony of organic lines and natural motifs. Characterised by sinuous curves and flowing organic shapes based on plant forms, his designs brought the whispers of nature into the heart of urban buildings. Art Nouveau is an ode to nature, seamlessly reclaiming its place in our lives and homes amidst the backdrop of industrialisation. Horta’s particular style of Art Nouveau was influenced by botanical studies and was less floral than the motifs used by designers in Paris. He was more interested in the stems of plants and the way they grow upwards seemingly ‘extending into infinity’. They inspired his use of the spiral staircase and creating landings ~ like leaves on a branch ~ leading to different living spaces. As Horta’s stairwells are covered by glass ceilings they give a glimpse of light and sky, looking up into endless space.

His interiors were bathed in light, a feat achieved through his pioneering use of steel frames and skylights, alongside open floor plans and finely-crafted decorative details. Influenced by his father, a master shoemaker, Horta developed a profound appreciation for craftsmanship, elevating it to a high form of art. In 1893, he stunned the international architectural community with the virtuosity of his fluid design for the light and spacious Emile Tassel townhouse that brought Art Nouveau from purely the decorative arts into the architectural realm. The Tassel House is the first one of the key buildings of the era and has many of Horta’s design motifs which were to become synonymous with Art Nouveau. His creations captured the world’s attention, paving the way for a new architectural era, and inspiring a wave of architects and designers who followed in his wake.

The Tassel House (1893, Brussels) is considered the first example of an Art Nouveau house to be completed.

A spectacular glass cupola by Victor Horta for Hôtel Van Eetvelde in Brussels.

Horta Collection story woman ad

This ad from 1896 artfully captures the women’s newfound freedom of movement, where the bicycle emerged as a modern mode of transport. She is wearing trousers – perfect for her adventures on a bicycle.

This period also marked a pivotal moment in history, where women’s roles were evolving, not just within the arts but also in broader society, particularly in metropolitan areas where middle-class women began to enjoy greater independence and disposable income. The fashion designs of the time echoed this shift, becoming less restrictive and lighter, featuring soft, gauzy fabrics, sinuous lines, and modern shades. After 1900, a new corset style created an S-shape silhouette, and this era also saw the introduction of sportswear, beachwear, and cycle clothing for women.

While the Art Nouveau movement often depicted women in idealised, passive roles within its visual narratives, the real story unfolding behind the scenes was one of burgeoning empowerment and active participation in the creative process. Art Nouveau opened new doors for women artists and designers, providing for the first time a substantial platform to express their creativity. Women played increasingly important roles in design and fabrication in the production of decorative arts, including (wall) paintings, fabrics, illustrations, ceramics, glass, and furniture. Their contributions were integral to the total concept of Art Nouveau’s approach to decorating a house. This shift reflected the changing dynamics in the art world mirroring the growing independence and societal roles of women during this transformative era.

Horta Collection story Dragonfly Lamp

Clara Driscoll for Tiffany Studios, Dragonfly Lamp, ca. 1900-1920, Brooklyn Museum, New York City, NY, USA. It was only recently that researchers found out the important role Clara played in the design and production of the famous Tiffany lamp.

Horta collection story ring

Movement and light are key to Horta’s design philosophy. Our Horta collection is celebration of fluidity and intricate craftsmanship. Every piece mimics the sinuous lines and natural forms prevalent in Horta’s designs. While the top is polished to a high shine, the sides are etched with great care to a matt appearance, further stressing the sinuous mouvement. Just as Horta integrated light and space in his buildings, this collection plays with negative space and light through handpicked gemstones, creating a dance of luminosity and colour. The Horta Collection does not replicate Art Nouveau jewellery; it extracts the essence of the Art Nouveau style, and turns it into wearable art with its organic shapes and flows, based on the work of Victor Horta.

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