World renowned jewelry designer Azza Fahmy tells ASK Magazine and the world about her latest collection, Nostalgia. Drawing its inspiration from ancient tradition, Fahmy taps into the wonders of the past so that we can relive that reality within the present.
Tell me about the concept behind your latest ‘Nostalgia’ collection. How is it unique to the other collections that you have designed in this past? I always feel a sense of longing whenever I see any of my older pieces worn by someone. Sometimes I'll even detect a flaw here and there... That’s always the case with artists; we're never completely satisfied with our work. This season I decided to create a retrospective collection, nostalgic of some of my most classic pieces. Each piece of the collection narrates its very own story; translating thousands of years of history drawing from Pharaonic and Ottoman Eras mixed with contemporary cultural influences.
You draw on very Oriental motifs. How do you make it appealing to an international market whose tastes in jewelry are very diverse? I believe when art is genuine, authentic, and passionate, people receive it well and jewellery is a great tool just like music and art in bridging cultures. The characteristic thing about our pieces is that they’re inspired by International cultures, translating luxury and history at the same time. Many of our collections are influenced by a range of Victorian, Pharaonic, Coptic, Mogul, and Ottoman muses which appeal greatly to international markets. Evidently, early on in 2012,
we created a Bespoke Collection for the British Museum’s Hajj Exhibition that received a lot of recognition and attention in London and internationally, with many of our pieces still on display at the British Museum to date. We are also now available at the Louvre Museum Shop in Paris, France and available at Washington D.C. Further, we have recently launched our worldwide Online Boutique in late 2012 to tap into the growing demands of our clients globally.
Describe the mental process that it takes to create your collections. Do you draw it from experiences you had or books you have read or someone you might have talked to? I look around me and I’m inspired by so many different things. It can range from nature and architecture, to poetry and even characters of different people surrounding me or anything that communicates form, function and global culture.
What is the most challenging part when creating your collections? And how do you overcome these challenges? It’s always challenging to come up with innovative pieces that will appeal to a vast sphere of different audiences or markets while keeping in mind our brand essence and identity. That’s why constant research, I believe, is one of the most successful tools any designer can develop. What do you feel needs to change in the jewelry design market and how do your collections contribute to that change? I believe a lot of attention needs to be driven towards innovation, research, and preserving craftsmanship techniques when it comes to the jewellery design sector in Egypt and in the region. We’ve been born in countries of rich deep rooted heritage surrounding us and we should feel proud to celebrate this beautiful culture to export it to other parts of the world.
What do you advise young designers to do if they want to advance? Be original and do not imitate other people’s trends. Educate yourself, research a lot, create your own vision of the future and be proud of your own heritage. What do you always seek to teach young designers? We have recently launched the Azza Fahmy Design Studio, the first design institute of its kind in Egypt and the Middle East, in association with Alchimia School of Contemporary Jewellery in Florence, Italy. At AFDS, we are keen on teaching the students the importance of preserving traditional craftsmanship techniques which have unfortunately become scarce recently. We’re also insistent on emphasizing ingenuity and instilling creativity within the students. We see those young designers as the generation that will help shift the jewellery industry in Egypt and the region and put it on the global map.
Images provided by Azza Fahmy Jewelry