There’s nothing that excites us more than a brand that beautifully amalgamates art, design and craftsmanship. With eponymous jewellery label, Farah AbelHamid, we get exactly that. This creatively-driven, artistic jewellery brand is the vision of Cairo-based designer, Farah AbelHamid who is a design visionary. Bringing together art and design in an unparalleled manner, Farah’s vision has created an extraordinary set of pieces (which are highly covetable. Intrigued by her journey, we sat down with Farah to discuss all things jewellery, her brand and her vision.
The Brand Journey Thus Far
Farah: Since graduating from the Jewelry + Metalsmithing program at the Rhode Island School of Design, I moved to Cairo to teach with the goal of opening my own studio and eventually turning it into a contemporary jewelry gallery. Since I didn’t grow up in Cairo, it took me a while to understand the landscape and “how things work”. Only until later was I able to build my own private studio, with the physical and mental space to work under my own terms and in my own creative bubble, giving birth to my work, and later my brand. I still remember the work I set out to make, knowing that the market had no place for it, looking up to artists such as Giampaolo Babetto, whom I had the honor of learning from, Lauren Kalman, Lucy Sarneel and Iris Eichenberg to name a few. As a maker and researcher, I’ve gotten the chance to explore various opportunities that allow me to strengthen my role in a non-established market, yet in an unexpected and unique way that I continue to embrace – never saying no to a challenge. While the journey of my work has taken me on different paths and tangents, I am adamant that all roads lead to Rome, (while learning to say no to a few challenges).
The Many Sources of Inspiration
Farah: My creative process starts with a lot of research, reading and writing in different subjects around the arts: furniture, history, and architecture, etc. I’m inspired by all things non-jewelry but still can be placed in relation to the body and the involvement of a wearer or participant. Once I have an idea of my subject, I outline a vision for the collection in writing – a lot of writing and word maps and linguistic associations before I work tirelessly to develop design elements to match them and define the work. In transition to the three-dimensional world, I start experimenting with materials to make maquettes of the work and engage with it on a physical level, these include clay, wax, silver, paper and cardboard. It is at this stage that most of my inspiration plays a significant role – the making process. By letting go of the “end product” dilemma, I rely on the materials and forms to communicate what my hands/design process should do next. It is what I like to call a 1+1 equation where form educates form and function becomes an inherent trait. In this continuous loop, I am not in direct control of the outcome, but rather it designs itself. Only during the final stages of production and decision making do I purposefully edit and fine-tune the lines, relations of the forms and their scale to curate a cohesive collection.
A Usual Day in Farah’s Life
Farah: To be frank, no day is like the other. The best days are when 12 hours go by and I’m running around the studio from corner to corner working on a new piece and troubleshooting, designing, redesigning and testing it at the same time – forgetting to eat and drink but so energized by the mere power of the making process. The more common days are when I want to spend 12 hours running around the studio, yet I’m running errands around Cairo sourcing new materials for the collection (recently glass), or picking up silver to cast and refine in my studio to finish that one piece before the students arrive at 6pm for their class, making sure I feed the dogs beforehand and post on IG because I forgot to yesterday. Being a one-woman show is not for the faint-hearted, and I know a lot of women can sympathize with this concept whether they’re still in it or have grown out of it. I am blessed to be able to do what I love, and if it means I’m sweating on the streets of Cairo to get to that shop before it closes, then so be it, as tomorrow I can spend 12 hours in my own studio with my dogs happily fed.
The Impact of Social Media
Farah: I primarily started the @studiowithfarah handle as teacher showcasing my students work by explaining their processes and concepts, targeting other jewelry designers and aspiring makers. Gradually, that in turn encouraged me to introduce my own tips and tricks of making as well, and now it houses my full portfolio, adding a market-savvy audience to the mix. With the power of Social Media connecting people through imagery in a world that is constantly shifting, I am encouraged to not stick to one strategy or one type of content that is presented, but rather approach it like I do my work ethic: a fluid enterprise that is organically growing with its work and its audience. By inherently being a teacher and maker, the content on Social Media is genuine as it is run and directed entirely by me, since the work is also entirely made by me. It is essential that through Social Media platforms I am able to connect with my audience of buyers and students, fortifying my role in the market and a unique selling point to my customers to learn from them and build on their feedback.
The Brand 5 Years From Now
Farah: I see the brand developing into a more defined form of itself now through two interconnected sectors: one relies heavily on the making process and outcomes, and the second in outreach through my teaching. In 5 years time, I envision that FforFarah pieces and series remain true to being driven by the concept of contemporary jewelry and pay an ode to traditional Metalsmithing techniques, handmade in my studio with a part-time studio assistant (or two would be great). I envision it being curated for different arts and fashion audiences by making less commercially-centric work and more one-of-a-kind pieces, art collaborations, and establishing a presence in the regional art market. Secondly, my passion for teaching and mentoring students and designers is still a strong part of its identity (as it is in mine), and works to develop a designer network that elevates the standard of jewelry products in the market.
The Insider Tip for Aspiring Designers
Farah: To all young jewelry designers, and not only those that I teach in my studio, I say “RESEARCH + LEARN”. The local market is saturated with go-to-designers that are in and out of the field, with successful pieces and first collections but weak design innovation to keep them going strong. I say, do A LOT of research; get to know your chosen subject and develop a design work ethic, get to know the craft by watching skilled craftsmen work, learn from ancient techniques and readapt them into your work to truly present something unique and unseen in the market – Its not just about modernizing an icon, but its about learning how to deconstruct it and make it your own. From the business side, I suggest to build relations with other artists and designers to learn from and collaborate, seek out a mentor in the design field before approaching PR and Marketing agencies that might alter your brand vision too early. With that approach, they can tackle any design, any theme, and any market. Fingers crossed, I’m still on that path myself.
Follow Farah AbdelHamid: @fforfarah