In a world of consumerism, Alexandra Hakim has managed to make a name for herself as a leader of innovation, transforming found objects and used materials directly into precious metals and extraordinary jewelry, like a magical fairy who casts a spell and renews everything around her.
Alexandra is a British-Lebanese jewelry designer whose dedication to sustainability has gained her a cult international following. When she creates her art pieces, nothing is wasted and each piece is completely unique.
Her accessories have been appreciated by Rihanna herself, featured in fashion shoots for Vogue Italia and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, and appeared on the pages of high-profile magazines including Elle USA, Marie Claire Italia and Madame Figaro.
Growing up around her father’s clay sculpture studio, she had always been an art lover, but she only discovered her talent for jewelry while studying for an Art Foundation at Central Saint Martins in London. She went on to gain a BFA in Jewellery & Metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she focused on design innovation and developed her unconventional making process.
Jumping on the sustainability bandwagon long before it became a trend and understanding the impact of giving an example, each of Alexandra Hakim’s pieces is zero-waste, unique and made by hand, with close attention to details.
She launched her brand in Beirut in 2016 and immediately made an impact. Her collections have stories of their own: from repurposing golden lemons and other citrus fruits into earrings & pendants in her Citric Acid collection, to raising awareness about Lebanon’s eroding coastline with her freshwater pearls jewelry in the No More Fish in the Sea collection.
We are honored to have her be a part of the Love&LOBBY’s Middle East Edition interview series.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
The idea of creating something new.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY.
My father is a transplant surgeon by day and a sculptor by night. I grew up in London observing his clay portraits come to life. I slowly took over a section of his studio and started to play with his clay to make little sculptures as well as colorful paintings of my own. It wasn’t until I had tried a metals workshop at Central Saint Martins that I had decided to trade in my paintbrush for a blowtorch, and my clay for pieces of silver. I began to scale down my sculptures in the form of wearable jewelry, using the body as a canvas to share my stories.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
The Coyoacan Food Market in Mexico City! I love to visit farmer’s markets on my travels. For me, there’s no better way to experience the lifeblood of a culture and to connect with the locals. The wild colors, scents and unexpected conversations get my creative juices flowing every time. The ultra-hot chili peppers, eucalyptus plants, and wild tomatoes that I collected in Mexico have all made their way into my work.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
I lived in Beirut for three years, and I made sure to learn as much as I could about the various communities that make up Lebanon’s complex social fabric. I met some fascinating people and had truly eye-opening conversations with local farmers, traditional craftsmen and the humblest of fishermen – all of whom educated me on the sad reality of how their livelihoods are increasingly threatened in the modern world. My SS20 collection is called No More Fish in the Sea, and it was inspired by one such encounter with a Lebanese fisherman from Chekka called Bob.
He explained to me how the waters in Lebanon have become so polluted that he is now only able to catch enough fish to feed his own family, and showed me all the various objects and pieces of garbage that he drags up in his net instead of fish.
I wanted to tell his story and raise awareness about this global issue, so I repurposed these materials, including crushed aluminum, plastic and old tuna hooks, transforming them into unique pieces of jewelry embellished with natural pearls. It’s definitely the collection that I’m proudest of.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
I launched the Good Karma Capsule in December 2020 after a very tough year for everybody, and it proved to be my most successful campaign to date. I wanted to tell an honest story of inclusivity by illustrating Lebanon’s diversity. I chose Lara Zankoul to photograph the pieces on real people from all different walks of life as an important reminder that we are all united in our belief that better, brighter days lie ahead.
THE BEST THING ABOUT LEBANESE CREATIVITY IS
It’s a specific genre of creativity that I have yet to see elsewhere because it’s derived from conflict. Creativity is a weapon of survival for the Lebanese people, which is perhaps why it’s so powerful.
BEST STATEMENT OF LEBANESE HUMOR
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO LEBANESE CREATIVES
Lebanese creatives are resilient, resourceful, multilingual, independent, motivated, productive, generous, sociable, intelligent, and great problem-solvers. The ability to create something out of nothing is engrained in their DNA.
BEST PLACE IN BEIRUT
Anywhere by the water. The juxtaposition between the cluttered city and the stillness of the Mediterranean Sea inspires me.
BEST PLACE IN LEBANON
Our family home in the mountains.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT LEBANON, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
LEBANON SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
Its people and the food.
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
Museo del Prado for Baroque Art in Madrid, Michel Foucault’s Les Mots et les Choses and John Maeda’s The Laws of Simplicity for a quick read.
A LEBANON BASED FEMALE TALENT THAT DESERVES TO BE PROMOTED AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, AS EXPONENT OF LOCAL CREATIVE SPIRIT
Lara Zankoul (@larazankoul) is a brilliant self-taught photographer (and friend) whose portfolio of work never fails to impress. She is a great example of a local creative who exudes talent but remains so humble. A real pleasure to work with.
Check out Alexandra Hakim’s full collections on her website, here.