Couture Musings

Road Trippin’ with Ateliers Zobel and Munsteiner

Couture exhibitors, Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel and Tom Munsteiner of Atelier Munsteiner, are considered pioneers in stone cutting and jewelry design. They also have a long heritage of collaboration; their families both view one another as family, having worked together since their studio opened in 1968, and their hope is that their children, Oskar and Phillip, will work together in the future.

In early October, for their annual team trip, the Atelier Zobel team took to the road for the opening of the biennial Musteiner exhibit in Stiphausen, where both houses, along with a handful of other artists, exhibited their work. I asked Sue Schmid, wife of Peter and Director of Communications and Events for the company, to give me a break down of their adventures, which included, among other things, a visit to the church in Stiphausen where Bernd and Tom Munsteiner installed two agate windows:

Thursday, October 9th

We drove from Konstanz to Stiphausen to Liliers Historiche Schlossmühle, a very romantic family-run hotel in an area so remote, you can’t even find it on Google maps!

Friday, October 10th

We visited our stone cutters in Idar Oberstein, Mr. and Mrs. Bonn and Mr. and Mrs. Woythal, who celebrated 110 years of stone cutting tradition this year. It was amazing to see such a grand inventory of raw stones, each with its own special history. All the stones are cut by hand, not machine (or children!), but by trained master stone cutters in Idar Oberstein.

In Spiesebraten, we had lunch with Herr Bonn and the Woythal Family. Lunch might only seem interesting for those that are hungry, but what struck me was the menu written on agate slabs and the adoption of the Brazilian method of cooking the meat. Due to the cultural exchange through gemstones, many stone cutters and mine operators have traveled back and forth from Brazil to Idar Oberstein and over time, traces of Brazilian culture can been seen in this remote German Town. After lunch was the Vernissage (opening) of the Atelier Munsteiner Biennale. Every two years sisnce 1971 the Munsteiners have hosted an exhibition alongside a carefully curated group of artists. This year, the exhibiting artists were Peter Shmid, Bernd Musteiner, Tom Munsteiner, Jutta Munsteiner, Boris Bally, Carl Dau, Gill Galloway-Whitehead, Eleanor H. Moty and Dorothea Wenz. Tom & Jutta are excellent hosts and organized a GREAT after-party!

Saturday, October 11th

We visited the Protestant parish church in Stiphausen where Tom and Bernd Munsteiner installed two Agate windows this past year. Built from 1778 to 1779, the church is the last surviving example of what is called Rural Baroque in the Hunsrück region. With its two agate windows, the church has now been beautified with a unique example of contemporary gemstone design. Agate, a variety of quartz, played an important role in the 19th and 20th centuries for the town of Idar Oberstein, but never before has agate been used in such an impressive and innovative way in a work of art. To create the two windows, Bernd and Tom Munsteiner cut individual agate planes measuring 1.5mm in thickness and joined them with the utmost precision. With its vibrantly strip, flowing structures, agate serves the same purpose as painted glass, i.e. filters the daylight and creates a meditative atmosphere in the church’s interior. The color transition from darker hues at the bottom to brighter ones at the top can also be interpreted as symbolizing the Christian act of creation, during which God as the source of light triumphed over the power of darkness, or as a process of enlightenment.

We then visited the Gem Museum in Idar Oberstein where the focus is on gemstones originally found in the area of Idar Oberstein, namely agates. They also presented a rich variety of raw and masterly carved gemstones from around the world. The temporary exhibition focused on agates used in contemporary jewelry.

Since a picture tells a thousand words, we’ve included several for you to enjoy in the below gallery….looking through them makes us almost feel like we were there! Maybe the next road trip?! (hint hint….)

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Michelle Orman

Michelle Orman

Michelle Orman is the president of Last Word Communications, which spearheads the public relations for the COUTURE show. A 15+ year veteran of the COUTURE community, Michelle is obsessed with all things jewelry and watch related! To be included in COUTURE Musings, email Michelle at

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