FASHION FIX: Designer Ami Doshi Shah talks statement jewellery [Nation (Kenya)]
(Nation (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BUZZ: Did you always want to be jewellery designer?
DOSHI: As a young girl, I was always creatively inclined. As I grew older, I knew that I wanted to be an artist; I just didn't know what kind. It was when I did my foundation course in Art and Design in the UK that I began to open up the repertoire of creative mediums - from paper to 3D - and began experimenting with metal and the concept of adornment.
Did you study design?
Yes, after my Foundation in Art and Design, I pursued a BA (Hon) in Jewellery and Silversmithing at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design which was based in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter. After I graduated, I did a six months internship in India after which I moved back to Kenya. It was after 12 years of working in marketing advertising that I finally had my "homecoming" as they say.
How did you settle on I AM I as the name of your line/design company?
I AM I is actually the title of a short story that a really close friend from art school wrote for me, years ago. It's basically a play on my name and the idea of constant quest for individuality and self-validation.
What is I AM I about?
It is about creating eclectic, statement adornment using locally sourced materials – copper, rope, brass, wood, leather, semi-precious stone. Our products are designed and made here in Kenya.
The I AM I woman is..?
A woman with a strong sense of personal style. She's a well-travelled nomad who's informed by fashion trends but not led by them. She'll mix up vintage finds with a handmade clutch, designer shoes and a statement necklace. She wears and surrounds herself with things that make her stand out but only in the most beautiful of ways.
Your style is?
The design ethos for us is focused on clean, sculptural lines and form, but then broken by flashes of contrast texture, asymmetry and colour. You could describe the style as modern, whimsical and unexpected.
Is everything created on order or do you put together a line every couple of months?
At the moment, we create a master sample design and based on these, we customise to order. The aim is to create diffusion range, which will still be manufactured in Kenya and retail ready.
What's your inspiration?
That's a hard one to pin point as I think as individuals, we are creatively influenced and inspired by the biggest and smallest things, from cultural heritage to the striations on a piece of wood.
As a Kenyan of Indian origin and I'd have to say that the African continent and Indian culture are some of the richest when it comes to the cultural value of adornment.
I am quite heavily influenced by both cultures. Kenya, when it comes to the scale of adornment and Indian when it comes to the detailing. I'm also particularly inspired by trends in product design, textile design and sculpture.
What materials do you use to create your pieces and do you source them locally?
I use materials like brass, leather, rope, wood, copper tubing and chain which are readily available here from Biashara Street, River Road, craft markets, specialty retailers for leather and metal.
How long does it take on average to create one of your pieces?
From design to completion, it can range from half a day to a couple of days, depending on the complexity and the detailing involved.
Is there a standard creation process that you follow?
Most designs for me start from sketches and visual references. I compile these together to create "mood boards" which help me see the clear vision for the design, which includes the inspiration (could be a photo or concept). I also like to play around with the materials, working with contrasts and textures. Hard/soft, shiny/matt etc.
The next stage is the sketch or design, where the technical elements are worked through visually. For example, how the necklace or cuff fastens or if metal has to be soldered or heat fused, all the heat sensitive components can only be incorporated once this is done.
Which part of the process do you enjoy the most?
Witnessing the satisfied client! It is a wonderful thing to be involved in creating something that makes someone genuinely happy.
What can we expect from you in the next two years?
We will be launching the diffusion range within the next six months and also possibly experimenting on other mediums including lighting and furniture design.
Describe yourself in three words.
I AM I!
Which jewellery designers/lines do you most look up to and why?
There are a number of designers that I have looked up to over the years from international jewellers such as Falconniere, Gemma Redux, Pichulik etc. Locally, I really do feel that Adele Dejak has paved the way for a lot of jewellery brands. By focusing on locally available materials, manufacturing in Kenya and merchandising and marketing the brand effectively, she has over time, built a strong, internationally recognised brand.
As a jewellery designer, is it safe to say that you love accessories more than clothes?
Absolutely! Many of my friends will attest to my questionable sense of dressing but fabulous taste in accessories!
What is your favourite piece?
My favourite piece is a rope and copper necklace from my FAFA 2014 collection. It's amazing how jewellery totally comes to life when worn.
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