Interview : Nicolas, art dealer & goldsmith

The Gentler is thrilled to have interviewed Nicolas Hugo, a 31 year old art dealer and goldsmith specialised in the making of artists' jewels based in London and Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France.
Nicolas has taken over his family business for the third generation of Ateliers Hugo, created by his grandfather François Hugo and carried on then by his father Pierre Hugo. They have been collaborating for 65 years with the greatest artists in the world making jewellery, gold smithery and silver smithery with them. Among them are Picasso, Ernst, Cocteau, Derain, Rondinone, César, Dali and more.

Nicolas in is atelier in Aix-en-Provence, France
Nicolas in his atelier in Aix-en-Provence, France

Home is ...
Home is the unique smell of our goldsmith workshop in the South of France. I grew up in a family of goldsmiths in Aix-en-Provence and the workshop has been in our family home for 65 years now. There is a unique smell of wax, nicotine and gas to weld the works that I can smell perfectly just thinking about it. 

Adventurer, metropolitan or hedonist?
It would be accurate to say the three of them. I have had the luck of backpacking in so many different places in the world, sleeping in the most remote and most uncomfortable places most of the time, but it wouldn't be true that a city like London is a place I wouldn't leave for anywhere else as well as my lounger with a glass of wine in the South of France during Summer. So fitting like a chameleon in the three of them definitely. 

What does it mean for you to be a gentle man?
Moving forward with the Times without leaving the tradition behind. People seem to be forgetting that without its roots, there is no tree. 

Most iconic man?
Pablo Picasso without the ounce of a doubt. 

Nicolas posing next to a portrait of Picasso at La Colombe d'Or, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France

Where do you recommend for a first date?
I never date but it probably would be The Westbourne Pub - my local in Notting Hill.  

What is your self-care hack?
I use a daily moisturiser and Sea Salt Hair Spray then a slight touch of Penhaligon's Cousin Matthew. British all the way. 

What is your survival care kit when you travel?
A bag for my suits, my laptop, my copybook and a silver pen made by my father that I never leave to write my schedule or some ideas for work mostly. I buy them all identical at Paperchase and they're all dated month by month and day by day.
I travel a lot and I am packing way too many things, bringing my entire home in my case everywhere I go. 


Nicolas with his 1972 E Type Jaguar in the South of France

If you had the power to change one thing in the world, what would it be?  
I would probably delete the Internet for a while so people would stop forgetting where they come from and what they're actually worth without being a product of consummation themselves like we all are now. 
We can function without the Internet, humans managed perfectly and achieved great things for thousands of years until 25 years ago. Let us remember that the world isn't that shallow. 

Favorite things?
My work is my passion, there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than in my atelier in the South of France. 
I have also been a compulsive art collector since my late teens, paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculptures and photographs, I buy what I like and in the artists I believe in. The pleasure of looking at them every day in my London house is my guilty pleasure. 
Also I have just now started with classic cars which take even more space and time... My latest acquisitions are a 1972 E Type Jaguar and a 1990 Peugeot 205 GTI 1.9L that I love to drive, it is like travelling back in time. 


Sunset in the South of France with Nicolas Peugeot 205 GTI

An environmental concern?
I am still a late bloomer regarding environmental concerns and I shouldn't be but I like to think that I have been influenced by friends and some people I have met who have taught me things and opened my eyes more about it. I am progressing regarding that matter and I am hoping to achieve more good deeds in the future. 

Find the adventures of Nicolas on his Instagram account @ateliershugo.