Challenging the traditional

Here at Emirates Woman, we love jewellery, especially if it comes out of the region. But sometimes, we run into the same pieces, drawing their inspiration from the same source. However, with Amena Farahat Designs, it is a different story.

The Egyptian jewellery brand, helmed by Amena Farahat, challenges the traditional. Her pieces brings a modern touch to Arabic calligraphy, breaking Egyptian tradition down and in turn creating something of abstract beauty. We interviewed Amena for our Spotlight On series to learn more about what makes her jewellery brand different and what is the inspiration behind it.

When did you launch Amena Farahat Designs?

Amena Farahat Designs was launched in 2017.

Why did you choose to design jewellery, what is unique about your brand?

I am a graduate of the American university in Cairo. I majored in business administration and minored in theatre. I worked in Marketing for multinational brands for 8 years until I had my first daughter and decided to quit and become a full time mum. I always had a passion for jewellery and fashion. I even used to redesign old pieces of my grandmothers jewellery and give them a more modern look. When I used to wear them I would get lots of compliments.
I learned by coincidence that the esteemed designer Azza Fahmy brought the Italian jewellery making school “Alchemia” to Egypt and i did not hesitate for a second to join even though i was pregnant with my second daughter. i took a semester there then took several different courses in other schools. I also learned on the hands of masters of the trade at khan el khalili workshops where they pass on their trade from generation to generation.

What is the creative process like? How is the idea for a new collection born?

I created my own workshop and make my pieces by hand. What stands out about my brand is that I always like to stray from the norm and I like my pieces to be very different from the existing pieces in the market. I stayed away from calligraphy as this is and has been the main trend throughout the past years. My first collection “Twists and turns collection” was inspired by lines I used to draw on my old notebook covers in school. They have an oriental feel to them and are quite unique.

My “intertwining collection” is inspired by the paths of life that are toyed with by fate. The lines represent paths that meet, part then meet again. Relationships that break and mend. People who part and reunite. Meanwhile, my latest ”Plisse” collection is inspired by folded pieces of paper one on top of the other that I used to play with as a child and I have mimicked the design with sterling silver.
 

 

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How much does your background and culture inspire your pieces?

My pieces are mostly a mix between modern and classic. For example pearls have always been considered classic and that makes younger generations shy away from them. So I use pearls in modern designs that are unusual which appeals to young customers. In turn my pieces are appreciated by all age groups.

I get inspired by all that surrounds me, be it nature, lines, patterns, shapes I even sometimes get ideas while dreaming and always leave a notebook by my bed to scribble before the ideas are forgotten. I start by drawing a piece then the implementation phase begins where I play around with metals, stones, pearls or even leather. Once a piece is created I start designing the rest of the set in order for the collection to be complete. My pieces are mostly made of sterling silver and platinum or gold plated. I also use gold and semi precious stones, natural pearls and gold plated brass.

Being Egyptian and having such rich heritage definitely has an influence on my pieces. Ancient Egyptians have been amongst the first creators of jewellery. Visiting museums was a big part of my life growing up. Seeing the beautiful designs that have endured thousands of years without their colours even fading away using techniques such as enamelling that we still use to this day is quite inspiring.

How do you want the women to feel wearing your jewellery?

When I decided to pursue this career it was to make women happy and more confident.  The most happy I am is when my customers send me messages telling me how happy they are wearing my pieces and how they get compliments whenever they have them on . I like to help women make bold choices and stand out I like them to feel special and unique.Every piece I sell I have put time, thought and effort into and hope that this makes women wearing them feel special.

Which pieces from your collections do you wear on repeat?

I wear all my pieces. They are all special to me as every single one has a story behind it

What should we keep in mind when styling jewellery?

Styling jewellery depends on the occasion but I like to advise women to be daring and bold. Don’t shy away from wearing big pieces and always try to be unique and have your own style.

 

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As a relatively new brand, what are some of the struggles that you have faced?

One of the major struggles we face are designs being copied which is very difficult to control. Also finding good meticulous workmanship to help me with the manufacturing process is always a challenge. The devaluation of the Egyptian pound has made imports very costly and hard to find. So if I am using any imported stones or pearls or any imported tools they are not always available.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

The one thing I am really happy about is that despite being new to the market I always hear from customers that people recognise my pieces and know the brand  and say I have my own style, I was also very happy when the inspirational Azza Fahmy posted about me on her social media accounts describing me as one of the top design brands. I look up to her tremendously and really value her opinion.

Several stars like Amina Khalil have championed your pieces, how did you reach them and what does it feel like seeing their wearing your designs?

It always makes me very happy when stars such as Amina Khalili, Youssra and many others wear my pieces it is a true honour.

 

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How can people get their hands on your jewellery?

I display my pieces in several concept store in Egypt. Also at online stores that ship internationally. And through my own social media pages.

What is next for the brand?

I hope to open my own flagship store here in Egypt. I have also been approached by stores abroad in countries such as the UK, France, Greece and Dubai so hopefully soon the brand will become more international.

 

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