Meet The Artist: Behind The Scenes With Berd Vay’e
Watchonista’s series of interviews with one of our favorite horological artists continues.
Aesthetically, watches are like little sculptures – they have dimension and movement. So, it’s no wonder collectors are attracted to art objects that incorporate watch movement components.
Today, we’re taking a look at Berd Vay’e, whose most well-known sculptures usually contain skulls and hourglasses (or even the occasional chess piece or Louisville Slugger). However, this duo’s work encompasses so much more.
Founded by artisans Eduard Kurayev and Albert Akbashev, the brand makes Lucite art objects that feature floating vintage watch parts – each as carefully selected and set as if they were a precious gemstone. These works are a real contemplation on time.
We asked Kurayev about the origins of their artistic endeavor and where they see it going.
From the start, Berd Vay’e grabbed attention with its sculptural contemplations on time, most famously their see-through skulls that recalled 17th-century Memento Mori (meaning, “remember you must die”) pocket watches.
But, these art objects also have a more optimistic message: “Berd Vay’e was created to preserve the beauty, art, history, and craftsmanship behind vintage timepieces that have aged over centuries,” said Kurayev. And although the duo likes to look to the past for inspiration, Kurayev and Akbashev are also intrigued by the thoroughly modern material Lucite.
“Lucite has always been the first-choice material to use for our sculptures, as its quality is the most ideal for preservation and resembles clear glass while remaining shatter-resistant,” explained Kurayev. “We use Lucite so that vintage components can be kept and remembered forever in our art sculptures.”
In sculpture, visual tension is created not just in the form of the object but in the push and pull of the materials, as well. In Berd Vay’e’s beginnings, the team faced a few obstacles conceptually and technically. “Conceptually, our biggest challenge was first introducing the brand to the world,” said Kurayev.
“It was important to break the communication barrier between the consumers and us so that they can fully grasp the concept and mission behind Berd Vay’e,” added Kurayev. Social media and other online platforms certainly helped the pair communicate to watch enthusiasts.
During the development phase, Kurayev and Akbashev also had to contend with losing sculptures due to poor temperature reactions that would cause melting and overhardening. “Within the technical process of creating our sculptures, we faced a few challenges like counteracting air bubbles that would form within the Lucite, for example,” clarified Kurayev.
Overcoming these challenges involved multiple tests that helped them explore and improve their ideas. Kurayev told Watchonista that, during the development process, they learned to perfect the hand placement techniques of the components within the Lucite. And when all the elements came together, it created a beautiful balance of color and size permanently set into Lucite sculptures.
Explaining further, Kurayev said, “The most challenging aspect of the creation process, however, is the sourcing of components.” And that is for a good reason: Each sculpture features about 2,000 to 4,500 components sourced from all over the globe. These components are then reviewed, polished, and restored to fine quality before being placed in a Berd Vay’e sculpture.
According to Kurayev, “Time is our biggest inspiration. When creating concepts for our sculptures, we always make sure to choose time-related themes, like the hourglass seen in the Passage Through Time collection, for example. We also look to the watch industry, modern culture, and social media for inspiration that will help us depict time in the most creative way possible.”
In modern times, multiples carry more cachet than in the past. From Picasso prints to KAWS’ vinyl collectibles, mass-produced art objects have captivated today’s collectors, with big auction houses offering more and more programs dedicated to limited edition artwork. This kind of collecting feels natural to watch collectors; thus, unsurprisingly, Berd Vay’e has gained a following among watch enthusiasts.
“Our sculptures send a message to collectors that it is important to preserve and reflect upon the historical origins of horology and the craftsmanship behind centuries-old movements,” said Kurayev. “Even with today’s availability of modern technology, we don’t want to forget how vintage timepieces were originally crafted and the painstaking hours and handwork that went into creating them. Like hand-finished movements and engraving, for example. Vintage timepieces are an art form of storytelling on their own, and we choose to put their beauty on display for collectors instead of allowing their stories to be forgotten.”
Berd Vay’e is already exploring new motifs and techniques. For example, you may be familiar with the Lost in Time sculpture – a skull set with tiny gears, hands, and rotors. However, thanks to advancements in the Lucite setting process, the duo has also introduced Hallucination, a cube surrounding a skull formed of watch parts themselves. Luckily for them (and us), due to the moldable and reflective properties of the Lucite, there are endless ways to take in a Berd Vay’e creation.
“We want to inspire the world to see the beauty behind the mechanics, art, and history of vintage timekeeping,” said Kurayev. “We want to bring vintage timepieces back to life and give them a second chance.”