Jordanian jewelry designer Lama Hourani shares her advice for women and thoughts on her life, work, design and inspiration with Worldette’s Laura Coulter.
Inspired by her travels and by the rich Arab culture of her heritage, Lama Hourani has been designing and producing jewelry that’s excited collectors across the globe since 2000.
She opened her first Art Gallery & Jewelry shop in Amman, Jordan in 2004 and since then has sought to find a delicate marriage of design mixed with emotion that is as broadly accessible as it is enticing.
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Lamas’ body of work draws from a belief that modernism does not mean minimalism, that contemporary does not forsake tradition, and that the result carries an intimate view on art-to-wear.
Even though she is aware of how difficult it is to expand into the fashion capitals of the world from Jordan, Lama is keen on having her production made in her Amman workshop, where she helps to train and polish the skills of her staff.
She employs people with disabilities, outsourcing work to underprivileged women & empowering them financially.
Where does your inspiration come from?
LH: My inspiration comes from my travels; art, architecture and people inspire me the most! It could be a colorful wall, a vegetable market, a beautiful woman or a street art stencil that triggers an emotion or an image in my head.
How long does it take from idea to a finished product?
LH: I always carry my camera with me to take photos of things that I love; I setup a mood board for the collection using photos and images of inspiration that I’ve taken and color palettes.
I do rough sketches for the direction and components that transform into real size technical sketches that are developed and assembled by hand in my Amman workshop. The pieces get styled into the color themes I set for every collection.
Every collection takes between 3-6months to develop. Each piece of jewelry is done by hand and it can take from 2-20 hours to make one piece.
I always aim for original, individualistic and meaningful when designing; I put so much effort into the inspiration and design process which distinguishes me from others.
I trot the globe sourcing inspiration, meeting people and exploring cultures; I create pieces that bear memories, intimacy and passion combined with a commercial flair, a combination that intrigues my international clientele.
How do you balance your work, life and travel? Do you have any time for romance or hobbies?
LH: I’m very fortunate that travel is directly connected to work, sourcing inspirations and materials from every country I visit, and the amazing people I get to meet.
I make time for everything I love and I actually met my fiancé while being on a sourcing trip in Bali! I believe it’s all connected and every person creates their own balance!
For me the key to having a balanced life is to take some time off from time to time. I have a list of countries and cultures I would love to explore and experience that uplifts my spirit and motivates my senses!
What advice do you have for women?
LH: On dreams and aspirations, it’s easier to give up and say I can’t do it. Yes, it demands a lot of effort and hard work, but you can accomplish whatever you set your mind and heart to… you must believe it to make it happen!
I have a dream wall in my home and I place everything on it from my favorite pair of shoes to a dream house and an inspiring person!
What are some of the struggles or challenges that you face as a designer and shop owner?
LH: Keeping my clients intrigued and giving them the best shopping experience is my goal. Expanding organically into foreign markets is always challenging but whenever we meet new clients at our international shows and feel their enthusiasm, all our hard work makes sense.
Tell me about your studio/shop. It’s so unique and creative!
LH: My shop has become a must see destination in Amman. It reflects my identity as a designer and reflects the thought line behind the jewelry.
I love collecting vintage objects that carry stories and history from scrap yards; my store utilizes vintage vaults, deposit boxes, and wooden drawers refinished with elements that portray the luxury and delicacy of the precious pieces, adjusted to be reused as cabinets or display props; emphasizing the idea of up-cycling and green design.
I try to combine the industrial feel along with design objects as display props collected from my travels to offer a sense of play, warmth and connection.
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How does being an Jordanian and living in the Middle East affect your designs and work?
LH: Nowadays there are a lot of talented young artists and designers in the Middle East; the design movement is getting stronger and more competitive for emerging designers.
Since I started designing jewelry, 12 years ago, I’ve been working extra hard to develop my jewelry when it comes to the craftsmanship and originality of the collections.
The Arab culture is very rich and inspiring; that’s why I travel to marry this richness with a contemporary appeal/flair to create unique and individualistic pieces that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world. I actually have many devoted clients that collect my jewelry from Zambia, Africa, Australia, Europe and the US!
Do you set goals for yourself or resolutions for each new project?
LH: I always set goals in an action plan and I tend to check them regularly to make sure they’re instilled in my head. I find writing my goals down guarantees I will implement them. In 2012, I opened my design studio in Barcelona and having a permanent presence in Barcelona and Beirut. Oh, and I got married!
What exciting projects do you have for 2013?
I’m working towards sales points in Hong Kong and Shanghai and my jewelry will be available in Tres Chix New York and LUZIO in Barcelona.
I’m currently working on Trunk shows in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, London and Germany, and I’m finally launching my home accessories line which will be available in March. It’s going to be another busy and exciting year!
What do you love about Lama Hourani’s designs or her approach to art and life? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!