Renowned architect turned jewelry designer Nada Zeineh talks to BelleBeirut about her creations and her inspirations in an exclusive interview.
1- Who is Nada Zeineh and what is it in her that took her towards design?
I am an architect who signed several architectural projects in Lebanon including the Soap Museum in Saida and the Archaeological Museum of AUB and who decided to have more freedom by working on minute, “miniature personal projects : custom jewelry.
2- What is your main source of inspiration?
Classical civilisations, hellenistic, roman, islamic. Architectural ornamentation like arabesques, calligraphy, geometric patterns. Ethnic jewelry, flora of the region. Sometimes a dress, an art work can stir my imagination. Sometimes new material , new techniques can start a whole collection. It depends but at the end I really believe in a collective memory that attracts people specially women
3- Women are so different, what kind of ladies is usually on your mind when you design?
When I design I have no ladies on my mind… I only have an idea, a desire, an urge of using my hand and creating something, and deep inside me the collective memory of an adornment that all women dream of.
4- Some of the designs are timeless, how would you label your designs from trendy to classic?
I think one can find different trends in my collections; I never follow fashion but it happens that some collections I created would be completely in the trend of the following season… I think it is only a matter of feeling “l’air du temps”. Some of my designs are completely unusual, “original” they say, others that are inspired from archaeological findings are more “classical” and are well sold in museum shops. I am very poor at labeling things, although each piece of my jewelry has a name.
5- Do you follow certain timelines to launch collections or go by inspiration?
I try to have two collections per year. Giving myself deadlines is important to set a discipline. Inspiration is not here all the time, and it is not easy to work alone, but I do my best and enjoy it.
6- If you are to choose one favorite design, which one would it be and why?
My latest design is always my favorite just because we spend quality time together… If I have to choose one piece it would be the Paco necklace because it summarizes all my approach to jewelry design: it is spectacular, light, versatile, playful.
Another favorite piece is the “Cleopatre” bracelet: it is simple, architectural, and touching it feels incredibly soft.
7- Modern ladies are interested in versatility and practicality; where do Nada Zeineh designs stand on that matter?
For me versatility lies in the possibility of wearing a piece of jewelry for different occasions and feeling at ease with it.
8- How do you select the themes for your collections?
This is a real mystery for me. I really don’t know how it starts, I only know that I suddenly have an evidence on my mind, an idea I need to develop. Actually I think all the ideas are already here, they just pop up one day or another, one after the other, and even if they are new, different, they always relate to the above mentioned sources of inspiration.
9- Some of your designs had been featured on the red carpet, like the Cleopatra collar, what is your next step in this respect?
I don’t act for that. I just try to have fun doing my collections and choosing the right place or event to sell them. After that, my pieces have their own life and it is sometimes on a red carpet. I know that some “people” have worn my jewelry like Shakira, Jesse Norman, Naomi Campbell, I really like the idea but I do nothing in particular for it.
10- Finally what do you think of the new cosmopolitan taste where all ladies tend to buy the same items? How do you work to stand out in an increasingly standardized world?
I think we live in a strange era where, through social medias, people can communicate with each other all over the world, launch brands, dictate trends, create super stars, and start revolutions. New cosmopolitan taste is only one aspect of this globalization and frankly I don’t know if I like it or not. Maybe I feel both: attraction and repulsion. Will I stand out? The future will tell!
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