Buro 24/7 Interview: Shamsa Alabbar
The creative talent behind a new and futuristically beautiful fine jewellery brand
Inspired by her surroundings, Shamsa Alabbar finds beauty in unusual places. Having graduated from the American University in Dubai holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication and majoring in graphic design, her next step is to take Arabic calligraphy to a new level. After experimenting with an array of fonts and design techniques, she has succeeded in creating futuristic jewellery designs with edge.
'A Token of Hope' bracelet in partnership with Social Bandage
Alabbar plays on the fact that jewellery has represented a huge part of UAE culture for more than half a century, as has historical Arabic typography - for much longer. The combination of these elements with an inherent creative flair proves that homegrown Emirati design talent is far from stuck in the past. And it all began with the idea of a present...
"It started out as a birthday gift for my best friend, Alia. I started playing around with different shapes: triangles, circles, semi circles, squares, and lines. Creating the name and trying to make it look appealing was a challenge. I placed different Arabic scripts around my work area as a reminder of the basic rules of calligraphy." She says, going on to explain, "Arabic typography rules have to be respected, so I've tried my best to follow the basic guidelines whilst adding something new."
Once finally satisfied with the outcome, Alabbar contacted one of her first supporters and mentor, Fatima Al Qassimi – owner of Sough Jewels – who guided her through the process of launching a label, the official preview of which takes place this Sunday in Dubai.
Ahead of the launch, Buro 24/7's Elle Timms speaks to the rising design star to find out more.
Tell us about your decision to design jewels...
I always wanted to demonstrate my designs in something other than print, and wanted to create something out of my 2D work to be useable and wearable. I never thought I'd ever turn them into jewellery. I already know that after this collection I want to experiment more with other materials. Its really exciting to see the transformation of my designs from 2D to 3D, they look totally different - in a good way!
Who do you design for?
Art lovers! People who are well educated about design and art. People who are not afraid of change or experimentation. People who like to be different.
Shamsa's graduation gift
Do you have a most treasured item of personal jewellery?
Yes I do, my most treasured piece is a graduation gift I was given by mother's best friend. It's a bracelet that I never take off, it has my name and my fathers name in Arabic, and it has my graduation date engraved on it.
What about a piece that you class your favourite from this collection?
One of my favourite pieces from my own collection would have to be the cuff. It was one thing that I was very anxious to see in reality and it's truly a statement piece!
Which other jewellery brands do you respect?
The stores that always make me stop by and just stare are Piaget and Cartier, they are classic. I also really like Bill Arabi by Nadine Kanso and Messika Joaillerie.
You come from a talented family in fashion and retail, has this helped?
Yes! First of all I had much support from my father who encouraged me from the start and helped me with production, and in connecting me to the best jewellers. My two sisters have been very supportive too. I thank my sister Salama for believing in my brand from the very start and stocking my pieces at Symphony. My mother has also been helping me with design decisions – I look up to her, and her exquisite taste in fine jewellery.
What do you hope for next?
My brand is abstract, so next I would like to go even more abstract and complicated. My first launch will introduce basic pieces – the classics. I am planning for even more unusual – yet wearable – pieces. I like to think of myself as a 'designer' full stop, rather than a jeweller or even a graphic designer, since I truly believe that graphic design has no limits.
Describe the first Alabbar Designs fine jewellery collection in five words...
Arabic, beautiful, futuristic, edgy, and unusual.
Ten exclusive pieces of the fine jewellery line by Shamsa Alabbar will be presented on November 24 at luxury fashion boutique Symphony, Fashion Avenue, The Dubai Mall. The launch will take place alongside 'A Token of Hope' – the collaboration between Shamsa Alabbar and Social Bandage, for the patients of Rashid Hospital.