Husam El Odeh worked as an artist in Berlin until he moved to London in 2009 and began to make cutting-edge jewellery. Having worked with designers such as Marios Schwab, Topshop, Acne and Miharayasuhiro, the designer also presides over his own line, signatures of which include pencils in silver, eroded spoons/keys and frozen stem rosebuds. Now the designer has realised his signatures, which have a pensive, artistic touch, as fine jewellery – that smiley coin necklace is now punctured with diamonds. Dazed Digital spoke to the designer to learn more of the line, stocked at Dover Street Market.
When you work with someone else it is also really important to try to tap into their universe, weirdly it is actually a type of freedom because I can apply my aesthetic and ideas to a new setting and sometimes I even discover a new apsect myself
Dazed Digital: You've created your first fine jewellery line. What led to you into the medium?
Husam El Odeh: To be honest I had made a few things before – commissions mainly, and a limited edition of molten charms – but the BFC Rock Vault was the perfect platform to launch this collection that I had been wanting to make for a long time. Fine materials have a different feel and I reacted to the material in scaling and finish. The pavé specifically was something that I wanted to use like frozen surfaces. Diamonds have this really cold perfect thing and putting it with the softness of the shapes and objects that are a bit of my trademark (rings, spoons, cracked spheres) really fascinated me.
DD: In the past you have collaborated with a range of brands and designers. What is it you like about collaborating? And how do you go about merging your ideas with another distinct designer?
Husam El Odeh: Accessories are all about context. So working with a different brand opens up a new context. When you work with someone else it is also really important to try to tap into their universe, weirdly it is actually a type of freedom because I can apply my aesthetic and ideas to a new setting and sometimes I even discover a new apsect myself. I also have a lot of ideas that do not neccessarily fit into my own line but are really nice, so I keep them on the side and often refer back to them for a project.
DD: You have a diverse cultural background. What aspects have influenced the way you work and what your produce?
Husam El Odeh: I am German with Lebanese and Palestinian parents but would consider myself a British designer. I guess I am one of those cultural accidents. German art and literature were very formative to me, I literally survived my teenage years on Thomas Mann and Herman Hesse (angsty). I used to dismiss the Arabic bit because I didnt like to be exoticised. Since, I have sort of discovered similarities in my aesthetics with people like Mona Hatoum, Hussein Chalayan and Rasha Kahil (I used to live with her in Brick Lane). I think there is a different approach to the body that's intrinsic to Middle Eastern culture. Maybe mainly that it is not sinful, even if the whole headscarf debate makes that difficult to understand for Europeans. Intimacy and touch are really central. English was my favourite subject at school and when I went to see the 'Sensation' exhibition in Berlin in the late 90s as a student I knew I had to come. London is a very special place and as a designer it possibly made me who I am.