How else can an artist design beautiful things if not surrounded by beauty? That is the thinking of Azza Fahmy and the European Union Delegation in Egypt who partnered in April to present “Nubre: Enhancing the culture of contemporary jewelry design and related design arts” in Aswan.
The series of workshops set out to “link the international design theme with Egyptian students and designers via a series of think-tank workshops … [to] establish and develop a platform of designers, experts and students from Egypt and Europe to benefit mutually between their respective different cultures, tastes and expertise,” said Shaden Fawaz, a PR executive for the brand.
The collaboration between the renowned Egyptian jeweler and the EU Commission in Egypt appropriately chose the Nubian word “design” for their project. Nubian culture in Egypt is supremely rich in its notes of inspiration: hammered gold jewelry with detailing of birds and flowers, and clay houses colorfully painted have not only inspired Azza Fahmy throughout her years as a designer, but will be the setting for the workshops that will bring together Egyptian students interested in jewelry design with capable instructors in the field from Europe.
“I thought thoroughly before picking a venue to start our project. It had to be a place with magical and picturesque surroundings, and an enjoyable environment abounding with the scent of history and rich in culture. An inspiring spot combining the beauty of the river Nile, its great rocks and cataracts, and the uniqueness of Nubian architecture and arts, yet with a strong existing network of handicraft producers and artists.
“Not only that, but it had to be a place with a renowned reputation worldwide, able to attract the interest and attention of great artists of the world,” said the designer at the launch of the event that took place in the culture center Darb 1718.
The venue for these workshops is the namesake of the project, a center in Aswan, which also contains a specialized library with design books for students to conduct additional research. An e-platform is currently under development to help present the work of participants, which will serve as a tool to connect to the international design scene for both exposure and presentation.
The workshop is structured so that students will develop ideas, collect raw materials and recycle everyday objects around them to transform them into examples of contemporary jewelry with the aim of creating items that are as creatively produced as pieces produced in design studios abroad.
Participants are students with either little or plenty of experience. The workshop also aims to inspire and lead aspiring designers to different creative methodologies.
The first workshop took place early May, lead by Doris Maninger, a lecturer and jewelry artist at the prestigious Italian school of jewelry design Alchimia. Entitled “Linking heritage to contemporary,” the workshop was a success. Even Amina Ghali — the daughter of Azza Fahmy and a designer in her own right who has designed a number of commercially and aesthetically successful collections for the Azza Fahmy brand — learned a new thing or two while participating in the first workshop.
“It’s always amazing going back to Aswan, and to get an opportunity to study with my old jewelry teacher again was incredible,” Ghali said. “It was very refreshing to step outside of my own comfort zone of working for a brand and experience being a student again. There’s a sense of freedom in it, which adds to you as a designer. You cannot believe how excited I am right now to start designing my Spring/Summer 2012 collection; ideas are just flowing out of me.”
Other students at the workshop included students form the German University in Cairo studying project design, and a student from the Faculty of Applied Arts. “I was extremely impressed with their creativity. I honestly didn’t think that someone with little jewelry background can be creative to the extent of coming up with phenomenal jewelry designs in simply four days,” said Ghali.
On the significance of the workshop for the brand, Ghali explained: “Seeing that this was our first workshop, it was an experience for us at Azza Fahmy as it was for the students; we learned a lot of things, which will hopefully make future workshops even better.”
For further details and applying to future workshops, visit www.nubre.com.